An injury in the workplace can throw your life into upheaval. In addition to whatever pain you must face, you also must deal with filing a workers’ compensation claim – something that in and of itself can cause you a great deal of pain. Luckily, a workplace injury entitles you to workers’ compensation benefits, which can ease the financial burden you face when you are injured. What do you need to know about filing a workers’ compensation claim in Douglasville, GA?
To begin with, it’s important to gain an understanding of how the workers’ compensation system operates. Every employer in Georgia with more than three employees must provide their employees with workers’ compensation benefits. In return, the employer is protected from employees filing lawsuits if they are injured in the workplace.
Workers’ compensation provides compensation for medical bills and lost wages. It benefits both employer and employee, and can be a lifesaver if you are injured while on the job. If you are an experiencing an issue filing your claim or have been denied benefits, a workers compensation lawyer may be able
How Do People Get Injured at Work?
If you have the type of job that requires you to sit at a desk for eight hours and answer phones and type, you might not realize how easy it is to be injured while working. On the other hand, people that work desk jobs are at risk for certain types of repetitive motion injuries, which account for a significant number of workers’ compensation claims in Georgia.
The truth is it’s very easy to be hurt on the job. In addition to repetitive motion injuries, depending on the industry, employees are at risk for falling, head trauma, being burned or cut, having items fall onto them, automobile accidents machinery malfunctions, and a variety of other potential injuries. Hundreds of people are injured every day across the state while working and their injuries are as diverse as the individuals who suffer them.
Injuries range from mild to severe, and sadly, some workplace injuries are fatal. Fortunately, the workers’ compensation system provides compensation for people who are injured in the workplace and it applies in nearly every workplace injury incident. Despite the frequency with which workplace injuries occur, dealing with your own injury can be devastating and confusing, which is why it’s helpful to work with an experienced Douglasville, GA workers compensation lawyer.
Workers’ Compensation Benefits in Douglasville, GA
Workers’ compensation is a type of insurance. The program is state run and required employers to purchases insurance coverage if they employ more than three staff members. Filing a claim can be complicated and learning your claim has been denied can be downright devastating. The good news by gaining an understanding for how workers’ compensation works, it will be easier to navigate the system, especially with the assistance of an experienced Douglasville workers compensation lawyer.
Workers’ compensation benefits include coverage for medical care and lost wages. Employers pay workers’ compensation premiums and when an employee is injured, they file a claim on behalf of the employee. Employees are eligible regardless of how much time they work, whether they are over the age of 18, employed legally with proper documentation, or working contract for hire. As long as they are employed by an employer with more than three employees they are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.
If you suspect your employer does not have workers’ compensation coverage or you attempt to file a claim only to realize your employer was not covered, you have a right to take legal action.
Does It Matter Who’s at Fault for My Injuries?
Unlike many other type of insurance, it really does not matter whether you were at fault for the event that caused your injuries, unless your employer can show you behaved in a reckless manner. For instance, if you intentionally took actions that were dangerous or you performed your work duties intoxicated, your employer could make a case for your benefits being denied. Unfortunately, many employers claim their employees acted in a reckless manner even if this was not the case and this is the cause of many workers’ compensation appeals.
You are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits even if a mistake you made led to your injuries. According to Georgia law, you can receive workers’ compensation for acute injuries or acquired injuries or illnesses, as long as they occur on the job.
Additionally, workers compensation benefits are available to those who have lost loved ones on the job. Many family members who lose a loved one in a workplace injury file a workers’ compensation claim to receive benefits that can help pay for funeral and burial expenses.
It’s important to remember that workers’ compensation does not allow you to claim non-economic damages. For instance, if you file a civil lawsuit you can receive compensation for pain and suffering. This is not the case with workers’ compensation. Your only benefits are for medical care and lost wages, so you shouldn’t expect to receive any additional money in your case.
How Do You Go About Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim in Atlanta, GA?
In order to file a workers’ compensation claim in Douglasville, GA, you must first report your injury to your employer. The process is organized and consistent, but it can still be confusing, so it’s within your rights to expect your employer to assist you with the claim.
Once you let your employer know you were injured or made ill, you should seek medical attention. Even if you’ve already seen your own doctor, you’ll need to visit a doctor approved by your employer and the workers’ compensation insurance company. It’s important to follow through with this doctor’s visit, even if you believe your injuries are not that serious.
You have a limited time in which to report your injuries from the date that they occur or the date symptoms were noticed. If you are injured in a workplace event, you should go to your employer immediately. If you became ill or developed a chronic injury from work, it’s important to let your employer know as soon as you’ve received a diagnosis. This begins the paper trail that will help you build your case, should your claim be denied.
After you report your injury, your employer must file a First Report of Injury or Occupational Disease form. This officially begins your workers’ compensation claim.
It’s easy to see why the process can seem intimidating, especially when you are dealing with an injury that could potentially be life-changing. If your employer refuses to assist you with your claim, it is within your rights to file on an individual basis. Even if your case is simple, you should speak to a workers compensation lawyer for assistance filing your claim if your employer refuses to help you.
What’s Included in Workers’ Compensation Benefits?
Workers’ compensation benefits provide you with adequate compensation for your injuries. This isn’t to say if you settle a workers’ compensation claim you will receive millions of dollars. There are pre-set amounts given to workers based on their injuries and the cost of their medical care. You are also entitled to a portion of your lost wages if you are forced to miss time from work.
Medical benefits can include a variety of expenses, such as doctor and hospital visits, medication, surgery, rehabilitation, and other costs associated with treatment. You must visit approved providers for these treatments just as you did initially, in order to qualify for compensation. If you’d like to see your own doctor for a second opinion, you are free to do so, but the cost of that visit will not be reimbursed.
In addition to the cost of medical care, workers’ compensation also provides compensation for lost wages. If you must take time off of work for treatment of your injuries or to recover, you will receive 2/3 of your average weekly pay up to the maximum benefit allowed. It should be noted this is not your full salary, so the sooner you are medically able to return to work the better.
What If My Employer Treats Me Poorly because I’m Filing a Claim?
More often than should probably occur, workers’ compensation claims are denied. This goes beyond your employer refusing to help you file your claim – it is the outright denial to pay for your medical treatment and lost wages. If you are dealing with problems filing your claim, you can contact the Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation for assistance and start your own claim.
If you are dealing with harassment in the workplace because of your claim, you have a right to take legal action. This is known as retaliation and it can take many forms, including undeserved disciplinary actions, suspension, termination, or any other type of abuse in the workplace.
Basically, if you are treated differently because you are filing a workers’ compensation claim, and that different treatment is not an attempt to accommodate you because of your injuries, you have a right to take action. Retaliation is illegal.
What Should I Do If My Claim is Denied?
You’ll receive notice of a claim denial through an official letter that explains the reason for the denial. There’s no need to panic, but you do need to take action.
If you believe a valid claim was denied, you have a right to request a hearing. At this hearing, you and your workers compensation lawyer will present your case. You’ll explain the details of the injury and the events leading up to it to a judge, and you’ll have expert witnesses give testimony on your behalf. If any co-workers witnessed your injury, they will be asked to speak, as well. Your workers compensation lawyer can help you prepare for the hearing and assist you in building your strongest case.
In the case of the judge upholding the denial, you have an additional chance to appeal to the Appellate Division of the State Board of Workers’ Compensation Insurance. This needs to occur within 20 days from the date you receive your denial of benefits to file this final appeal.
Is a Third Party Lawsuit Appropriate?
In some cases, especially if an injury was caused because of something a third party did or did not, you could be eligible to file a third-party civil lawsuit. This is in addition to your workers’ compensation claim.
For instance, if a piece of equipment malfunctions and results in your injury, you could file a lawsuit against the manufacturer of the equipment. This lawsuit has no bearing on your workers’ comp claim.
Workers’ compensation prevents you from filing a civil lawsuit against your employer, but you can file a third-party civil lawsuit at the same time you are filing a workers’ compensation claim. The only instance in which you could file a civil action against your employer is if an action in the workplace was reckless and led to your injuries.
Third-party claims are just as complicated as any other type of personal injury claim and should not be handled on your own. If you believe you might have a third-party claim, you can talk to your workers compensation lawyer and he or she will guide you in the right direction.
Why Do I Need a Workers Compensation Lawyer in Douglasville, GA?
When a workers’ compensation claim is straightforward and simple, you might not need an attorney to assist you with the process. This is the case when someone experiences a minor injury on the job, seeks a simple medical treatment, such as stitches, and is able to return to work in just a day or two. A claim is still filed and the cost of the ER visit and day or two off of work is covered, but there is very little red tape and only a small chance of denial of the claim.
On the other hand, more complicated claims often result in denials and it’s essential you begin working with a workers compensation lawyer as soon as possible. If your claim is denied, it is essential you have a workers compensation lawyer in your corner defending your rights as an employee.
In some cases, an employer will claim your injuries occurred outside of work hours or outside of the workplace. They might also claim your reckless behavior led to your injuries. In either of these cases, there is a good chance you could receive a denial of benefits, which leaves you at risk for having to pay for your medical care and to not receive compensation for your time missed from work. This is serious and you should not be attempting to navigate the system without assistance from a professional.
In addition to protecting your rights, your workers comp lawyer will help you with all the administrative work associated with your claim. Your workers compensation lawyer will handle your paperwork and make sure it is submitted on time. You’ll also receive advice on how to proceed with your claim and any necessary appeals.
Some people are concerned they cannot afford a workers’ comp lawyer to help them with their claim, even if their claim was denied. The good news is you don’t need to pay an attorney out of pocket for helping you with a workers’ compensation claim. Georgia law limits the amount of money any workers’ compensation lawyer can charge you to no more than 25 percent of your benefit award. Your workers compensation lawyer’s payment comes from your workers’ comp benefits, not from your own personal money.
There is a good chance if you are injured in a workplace event, you will be eligible for benefits. Nearly every employee in Georgia has some kind of workers’ compensation coverage in place, which they are required to do by law. You should never let the cost of an emergency room visit or doctor’s visit interfere with seeking medical treatment. This not only puts your health at risk, it also jeopardizes any potential claim you might make in the future to workers’ compensation benefits. It’s always better to seek medical treatment and not need it than to avoid it and eventually be forced to pay for your own medical care. Or worse – find out you have suffered lifelong injuries and have no money to pay for the long-term treatment you’ll likely need.
If you were injured on the job, we can help. Our staff is experienced in dealing with workers’ compensation claims in Douglasville, GA. We’ve helped residents with their claims and their appeals for years. We know it can be devastating to be forced to file a workers’ compensation claim and it’s even worse if it is denied. We will do everything we can to help you get the compensation you deserve and build your strongest appeals case.
We’ve worked with those injured on the job for more than a decade. We understand that each and every case is different and that in addition to your injuries, you’re likely overwhelmed and intimidated – and concerned about your own well-being and that of your loved ones.
If you have been injured in the workplace and need to schedule a consultation to discuss your case, or you have questions that need to be answered by an attorney experienced with workers’ compensation at 3400 Chapel Hill Rd Suite 100, Douglasville, GA, contact the Law Office of John B. Jackson at 770-766-5844.