An on the job injury can have serious impacts on your job and your life outside of work. If you are the primary income earner for your family and are injured on the job, your spouse or your children may also suffer. Workers’ compensation law in Georgia can be complicated and if handled improperly, can leave your family without a source of income to pay for medical bills and daily expenses
What Is Workers’ Compensation?
Workers’ compensation is a special type of insurance purchased by your employer. It is not an individual plan like your car insurance or home insurance policy. Your employer purchases this coverage to help you with lost wages and medical expenses if you are injured on the job. The goal of these benefits is to help you with the rehabilitation process and eventually return you to the job. There are certain catastrophic injuries that prevent you from ever working again, and in these cases workers’ compensation intends to help you and your family with your expenses.
Workers’ compensation insurance is required for all employers that have three or more workers. This includes part-time workers. You check to see if your employer has workers’ compensation coverage at the State Board of Workers’ Compensation website here.
How Do Workers’ Compensation Claims Start?
Every workers’ compensation claims starts with an injury at work. Your employer does not need to be negligent for you to file a workers’ compensation claim. All that is required is that you were injured on the job. It is important to act quickly because if you wait longer than 30 days you may lose your ability to claim. Your claim begins by filing the WC Form 14 with the State Board of Workers’ Compensation. There are some exceptions to this, such as if you were injured doing a non-job related activity, but every case is different. After your initial filing of an injury report that happen on the job, your employer’s insurance company will have three weeks to investigate your claim. The investigation is usually completed relatively quickly, but it may take much longer for you to receive your benefits.
What Benefits Can I Get as Part of a Workers’ Compensation Claim?
There are three typical types of benefits that you will have a claim to if you have been injured at work. These include benefits for lost wages, benefits for disability and benefits for your medical expenses. You cannot get coverage for pain and suffering or other hard-to-calculate noneconomic damages through a workers’ compensation claim.
Benefits for Wages
As of July 1, 2016 the maximum amount of wages per week you are entitled to is $575.00 per week or two-thirds of your average weekly wage. If an individual dies in a work accident are there are no children, a spouse is entitled up to $230,000.00. Computing average weekly wages are usually calculated by looking at several months of wages prior to the accident and determining a weekly average. It is important to note that wage benefits are not typically available for the injured person until after a doctor has said that you are placed on no work status. If you are able to return to work, but you can only get a job that pays less than your first job your wage benefits will be capped at $383.00 per week if you got injured after July, 2016.
Benefits for Medical Expenses
Another type of benefit you can receive after a work accident is a benefit to help you with doctors and hospital visits. If you are injured at work, your employer has to pay for any authorized medical treatment. If your work accident occurred after July 1, 2013 you can only receive approximately seven years and eight months of medical treatment after the accident (400 weeks). Your employer will authorize your medical treatments. Generally, an employer will post a list of doctors or have a list of doctors on file that they have authorized to provide you treatment. Your injury may require a specialist not listed by your employer, but to ensure the highest level of cooperation from your employer it is recommended that you see one of the doctors they have pre approved.
Benefits for a Permanent Partial Disability
If you return to work, your doctor may give you a permanent partial disability rating, which is a statutory amount of benefits given for the loss of use of a particular body part. Currently, this benefit only lasts for 225 weeks.
What Should I Do to Prepare for My Hearing?
Hearings only generally occur if you haven’t been paid your workers’ compensation benefits. After you fill out the Georgia’s form WC-14 you will have a hearing. While you do not have to have an attorney at this hearing it is likely that your employer will have an attorney present. This hearing is not a trial and this hearing will not force the employers’ insurance company to settle. A hearing can take as long as six months to get. The hearing will generally occur in the county where you received your injury.
What If Workers’ Compensation Doesn’t Pay Enough to Cover My Injury?
It is possible that you may be able to recover some additional benefits from private insurance to make yourself completely whole. However, you cannot sue your employer if they have paid workers’ compensation benefits. This prevents you from recovering twice for the same injury. If you have been injured on the job because of the negligence of someone other than your employer or a co-worker, it is possible to seek recovery from this person in addition to workers’ compensation.
How Can a Georgia Workers’ Comp Attorney Help?
If you have been injured on the job you should not try to handle your claim on your own. Workers’ compensation law can be very complicated and without the help of an experienced Georgia work injury attorney it can be easy to miss deadlines and details which can greatly hurt your case. The attorneys at the Law Office of John B. Jackson are here to help handle your case from start to finish.