Accidents in the workplace happen often. Luckily, for those injured while on the job, the State of Georgia has workers’ compensation insurance.
What is Workers’ Compensation?
Workers’ Compensation is a form of insurance for individuals hurt while at work. If you are injured on the job, you may be entitled to:
- Medical expenses,
- Lost wages, and
- Disability benefits.
Workers’ compensation also provides death benefits to family members of employees who die as a result of a work-related accident.
Workers’ Compensation Coverage
Under Georgia law, any business with three or more employees, including part-time employees, is required to have workers’ compensation insurance.
If you are an independent contractor, you may still qualify for workers’ compensation. A Georgia workers’ compensation attorney can help determine if you are eligible.
What To Do If You’ve Been Hurt at Work
If you have been injured while at work, you should:
- Seek immediate medical attention if needed;
- Tell your manager or supervisor as soon as possible;
- Go to an approved doctor;
- Begin treatment if needed; and
- Keep a record of everything.
Following these steps will help your workers’ compensation case.
Workplace injuries happen every day. According to the National Safety Council (NSC), the top three reasons for workplace injuries include:
- Overexertion, resulting from heavy lifting or repetitive motions;
- Contacts with objects and equipment, like being struck by, caught in, or crushed by equipment, objects, and materials; and
- Slips, falls, and trips.
The most common types of injuries in the workplace are:
- Sprains, strains, or tears;
- Soreness or pain; and
- Cuts, lacerations, or punctures.
While accidents can happen in any service industry, the industries with the most common workplace accidents include:
- First responders (police, firefighters);
- Installation, maintenance, and repair; and
Workplace accidents can happen to anybody for a variety of reasons, resulting in injuries big and small.
Process of a Workers’ Compensation Claim
Since workers’ compensation is a unique type of insurance, the process is somewhat different than filing a claim with your regular insurance company. The typical process of filing a workers’ compensation claim is as follows.
Report the Injury
Let your supervisor know as soon as possible that you’ve been injured on the job. The supervisor will then fill out an accident report. If you wait over a month to report your injury, you may lose the opportunity to receive full workers’ compensation benefits.
Get a List of Approved Doctors
Your employer should provide you with a list of approved doctors from whom you can seek medical treatment. To obtain workers’ compensation benefits, you must receive treatment only from one of the approved doctors.
Obtain Medical Treatment
Once you visit a doctor from the approved list, it is essential to follow the doctor’s instructions. Attend all appointments, follow through with treatment, and respect any work restrictions the doctor imposes.
Complete the Required Form
To file a workers’ compensation claim in Georgia, you must fill out a WC-14 form. You will then submit the form to the State Board of Workers’ Compensation and provide copies to your employer and their insurance company.
Talk to an Attorney
While you have the right to represent yourself in your workers’ compensation claim, talk to an experienced attorney. Having a Georgia workers’ compensation attorney will help ensure that your claim is properly presented.
After Filing Your Workers’ Compensation Claim
After filing your works’ compensation claim, the State Board of Workers’ Compensation will review it and notify you of any benefits you will receive. If you do not receive any benefits, you may request a hearing before the Board. During the hearing, an administrative law judge will review your case and determine what benefits, if any, you should receive.
How Much Income Can You Receive?
For accidents that occur after July 1, 2019, you will receive two-thirds of your average weekly wage, but no more than $675 a week.
You can get temporary total benefits for up to 400 weeks. Your benefits may be reduced if you are allowed to return to work with restrictions or you are suspended after returning to work with no restrictions.
You might be eligible for lifetime benefits if your injuries were catastrophic.
Can You Sue Your Employer?
In most cases, you will not be able to sue your employer for your injuries if you are eligible for workers’ compensation.
Workers’ compensation is a “no-fault” system. This means that, regardless of whose fault it was, you are entitled to receive benefits. In exchange, workers in Georgia are barred from suing their employers for work-related injuries.
If a third party—someone other than your employer—is responsible for the accident resulting in your injuries, you may be able to sue. Either way, it is a good idea to consult with a Georgia workers’ compensation attorney.
Hiring a Workers’ Compensation Attorney
You should strongly consider hiring a workers’ compensation attorney to help guide you through the process. The workers’ compensation system follows strict rules regarding your rights as an injured employee. A workers’ compensation attorney is well versed in these rules, making them a necessary ally.
The Pritchard Injury Firm, led by Zach Pritchard, is ready to help you with your workers’ compensation claim. We have years of valuable experience working alongside our clients to reach quick resolutions and favorable outcomes in their cases. Navigating the workers’ compensation process can be confusing, but you don’t have to do it alone. Contact us today, and let’s see how we can help you.