As an employee in Georgia, you are entitled to a safe and comfortable working environment, regardless of your field. However, work-related injuries, illnesses, and even fatalities occur all too often even in settings you’d least expect to be at risk of injury. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the state of Georgia recorded a total of 91,200 non-fatal occupational injuries and illnesses and 186 fatal workplace injuries in 2019 – more than 3 work-related fatalities per week.
At John B. Jackson Law, we understand that the days, weeks, and months following a workplace injury or illness can be filled with uncertainties and challenges. A single debilitating workplace injury can leave your future as well as that of your family hanging in the balance. Fortunately, under Georgia’s workers’ compensation laws, you may be entitled to certain monetary benefits. However, this doesn’t mean that these benefits are guaranteed.
Our Rome workers’ compensation lawyers have in-depth knowledge and understanding of Georgia’s workers’ compensation laws, and we are prepared to fight for your rights, help you get the quality medical treatment that you need, and secure your financial future. Call our injury lawyers today at 770-834-0345 for a free evaluation of your case.
What Is Workers’ Compensation?
Workers’ compensation is a type of no-fault insurance provided to employees by employers meant to provide medical treatment, wage compensation, and other relevant financial benefits to employees in the event of a work-related injury or illness. It is also meant to protect the employer against any legal liability. This means that the employer can’t sue the employer for a workplace injury/illness.
Georgia law requires that all businesses with 3 or more full-time, part-time, or seasonal workers carry this form of insurance. However, if the business is incorporated or an LLC, they are required to provide this insurance even if they have less than 3 workers.
Workers’ compensation insurance only covers injuries and illnesses sustained (i) by an employee (ii) working within the course and scope of their employment.
What Is Covered By Workers’ Comp in Georgia?
Georgia’s workers’ comp provides a range of benefits to employees who’ve suffered a workplace injury or illness. They include:
Workers’ comp insurance helps to pay for all the necessary and reasonable medical treatments required to help the employee recover from the injury or illness. It covers doctor appointments, medications, ER visits, surgeries, medical equipment, physical therapy, in-home care, and travel costs to and from the doctor.
Workers’ comp insurance also covers part of the income missed and part of the income the employee stands to lose in the future as a result of their injury or illness. The state of Georgia recognizes four types of benefits in regards to lost wages:
- Temporary total disability benefits (TTD) – A worker is entitled to TTD benefits if they are unable to work for more than 7 days.
- Temporary partial disability benefits (TPD) – A worker qualifies for TPD benefits if they can work but with light-duty restrictions.
- Permanent partial disability benefits (PPD) – A worker is entitled to PPD benefits if they suffer a permanent injury but still have some capacity to work.
- Permanent total disability benefits (PTD) – A worker may qualify for PTD benefits if they suffer a permanent injury that leaves them completely disabled.
There are different rules surrounding the different types of benefits in regards to how much you can be awarded and for how long.
Rehabilitation and Career Training
If you’ve suffered an injury that hinders you from returning to your previous job or capacity, you may be entitled to vocational rehabilitation or job re-training to regain your skills or be employable in another industry or capacity.
In the event that an employee loses their life as a result of a workplace injury or illness, the surviving family members may be entitled to receive payment for funeral expenses (up to $7500) and up to two-thirds of the employee’s average weekly wage.
What Should I Do If I’m Hurt on the Job?
There are a number of crucial steps that you should take after suffering a workplace injury to protect your rights and ensure the best chances of maximum compensation:
Report the Injury to Your Supervisor/Employer
Under Georgia’s workers’ comp laws, you should inform your employer of a workplace injury within 30 days of the accident.
Get Medical Treatment
Seek medical treatment as soon as possible and follow your doctor’s instructions. Unless in special circumstances, you are generally required to visit a listed physician. It is very important that you diligently obey your doctor’s instructions and recommendations to remain eligible for medical benefits.
Document the Injury
Start and keep a written record of your injury and symptoms. This will help to keep your side of the story consistent and ensure that crucial details aren’t lost to time.
Take photographs of the scene. Make sure to take photos of the scene and any visible injuries you may have suffered.
File a Claim
File a workers’ compensation claim with the help of a qualified workers’ compensation lawyer. Ensure to file a Form WC-14 with the Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation, and send a copy to your employer and their workers’ comp insurance provide.
Since your attorney will handle the bulk of the process, it is in your best interest to ensure you get enough rest and focus on your recovery.
Steps for Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim in Georgia
Our Rome workers’ compensation lawyers can help you with the process of filing your claim in Georgia.
Report Your Injury to Your Supervisor
If you’ve suffered a workplace injury, you need to inform your employer within 30 days of the injury or risk your claim being denied. It is prudent that you do so in writing, preferably by email as this will provide a crucial timestamp of the communication should any dispute in this regard arise.
Attempt to Informally Resolve the Claim
You should first attempt to resolve the claim informally with your employer. Ideally, after you’ve notified your employer of the injury, they should file your claim with their insurance carrier and begin the process of having your benefits disbursed. If this isn’t done, you need to contact an attorney.
Contact a Qualified Workers’ Compensation Attorney
If you are unable to internally resolve the claim with your employer, you need to bring in an experienced Rome workers’ compensation attorney to help you officially file a claim. You shouldn’t proceed any further with the process without the assistance of a qualified lawyer.
File Your Petition for Benefits
Once you’ve determined that your employer is unwilling to take steps to provide the necessary benefits or you disagree with their terms, you should file a Notice of Claim (WC-14 Form) with the State Board of Workers’ Compensation. An attorney will help ensure that this is done properly and that you have included all the relevant details, and supporting documents and records.
What Are My Rights After an On the Job Injury?
If you’ve been injured while on the job, you have several rights under Georgia state law:
- You have a right to receive medical treatment for your injuries or illness
- You are entitled to compensation for medical bills and other expenses associated with the treatment of your injury or illness including travel costs, home modification, etc.
- You have a right to income benefits if your injury or illness forces you to stay out of work for a period longer than 7 days or if you return to work at a reduced capacity.
- Your family has the right to receive benefits in the event of your death.
- You have the right to appeal a claim denial.
- You have the right to be represented by an attorney throughout the process.
- You have the right to protection against discrimination or retaliatory action by your employer.
What Can I Do if My Claim Is Denied?
If the insurance company denies your claim and fails to give a satisfactory reason, you have the right to appeal the decision. Here is what you need to do.
File a Notice of Claim
File a WC-14 “Notice of Claim” form with the State Board of Workers’ Compensation. You need to do this within one year of your injury or the last medical treatment payment.
Once you’ve filed a notice of claim, you may be required to go through a mediation session with the employer/insurance company to reach a settlement.
If a settlement agreement can’t be reached upon, your appeal goes to the hearing stage. This is an informal legal proceeding held before a judge where parties present evidence and make their arguments. The judge then makes a decision within 30 days.
If you are unsatisfied with the judge’s decision, your attorney can help you file an application for review with the SBWC’s appellate division within 20 days of the judge’s decision. The appellate division will make a decision based on the written arguments from both sides.
If all the above options fail, you still have the option to take your case to the Georgia Court of Appeals then to the Georgia Supreme Court.
How Can a Rome Workers’ Comp Lawyer Help Me?
As you can tell from all the information provided so far, the process of securing workers’ compensation benefits is quite complicated and nuanced. You need all the legal expertise you can get to help you through this process and get the maximum amount of compensation.
Our attorneys at John B. Jackson have extensive experience dealing with Rome workers’ compensation claims and know what it takes to deliver the best outcome.
- We will investigate your case, collecting all the necessary evidence, information, and records to support your case.
- We will also handle negotiations to help reach a favorable settlement agreement.
- If negotiations fail, we will provide you with effective legal representation during the hearing and court process.
How Much Does a Qualified Workers’ Comp Attorney Cost?
Our highly skilled Rome workers’ compensation lawyers at John B. Jackson represent injured workers on a contingency basis. This means that there are no upfront payments and you only pay us after we’ve won your case. We only deduct a small agreed-upon percentage from your compensation amount.
Contact a Rome Workers’ Compensation Attorney Today to Secure Your Benefits!
Suffering a workplace injury can bring your life to a halt. You not only have to deal with the pain, suffering, and inconvenience that such an injury brings, but you also have to worry about your financial future.
If you are out of work, you won’t be able to pay for your medical bills or provide for your family. While workers’ compensation laws exist for exactly this, injured workers face a lot of challenges and resistance from employers/their insurance carriers which results in them being denied the benefits they deserve.
At John B. Jackson, we understand what you might be going through and we have your best interests at heart. We are prepared to offer our expert guidance and fight for you to ensure that you are fully compensated. Call us today at 770-834-0345 to protect your wellbeing and financial future!