What is Workers' Compensation?
If you were hurt on the job in the state of Georgia then you are most likely entitled to benefits. Under state law, employers with three or more employees must carry workers’ compensation insurance. That coverage begins on your first day of work.
Workers’ compensation is a no-fault system in Georgia. In most cases, you will be covered if you are hurt on the job, no matter who was at fault for your injuries or accident. Workers’ compensation should cover your medical expenses related to your work-related injury. In addition, you may be eligible for indemnity benefits, which partially replace the wages you have lost because of the injury. In some cases, you may also receive rehabilitation benefits.
While you are entitled to those benefits, you cannot sue your employer if you are injured on a job that is covered by workers’ compensation insurance in Georgia. However, in some cases, you may be able to file a claim against a third party, such as the manufacturer of a defective machine that caused your work injury.
Numerous state and federal laws are in place to protect you in the workplace. Even so, on-the-job injuries and occupational illnesses are common in the U.S. Recently, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported 1,162,210 work-related injuries and occupational illnesses resulting in days away from work in a single year.
Claims can get complicated and that’s why you should call Hasner Law for a free consultation now!
Source: BLS: Nonfatal Occupational Injuries and Illnesses Requiring Days Away From Work, 2013
How Can a Workers' Compensation Attorney Help Me?
At Hasner Law, we focus exclusively on protecting the rights of workers and their families. You can call on us if you encounter any problems when you are dealing with your employer and/or its workers’ compensation insurer, including situations where:
Your employer wrongfully claims you are an “independent contractor”
Your employer denies that your injury or illness is work-related
Your employer refuses to authorize medical treatment/change in doctors
Your employer delays paying the benefits you are entitled to receive
Your employer forces you to work despite your disability
Your employer retaliates simply because you filed a workers’ compensation claim.
Because we limit the number of cases our lawyers handle, you can expect to receive our full, personalized attention. You can count on us to:
Collect and closely examine your medical records
Consult with medical and vocational experts about your condition
Make sure your workers’ compensation claim is timely filed
Present a compelling case on your behalf (if a hearing is necessary)
Handle any appeals necessary.
Seek full and fair settlement of your claim – when the time is right FOR YOU!
We strongly caution you to avoid making a workers’ compensation claim on your own, without seeking help from an attorney. You could end up making costly mistakes and losing out on possible benefits. It will ultimately be in your best interest to have an experienced and compassionate workers’ compensation lawyer from Hasner Law by your side, fighting for what you deserve.
Will Workers’ Compensation Cover My Medical Bills?
If you are eligible for workers’ compensation benefits in Georgia, your employer should pay for all medical expenses related to your on-the-job injury or illness, including:
Treatment-related transportation costs
Keep in mind: You must get treatment from a doctor that you select from the list of doctors provided by your employer, or else your employer may not have to cover your treatment.
If you have any difficulties with your medication expenses – for instance, your employer or its insurer refuse to authorize surgery or to reimburse you for other costs – contact us at Hasner Law.
Will Workers’ Compensation Cover Your Lost Wages?
In addition to medical benefits, you may also be entitled to income (or indemnity) benefits in Georgia if your work injury or illness prevents you from working or forces you to work at a light-duty, lesser-paying job, or if you lose a loved one due to a work-related injury or illness.
These benefits include:
Temporary Total Disability Benefits (TTD)
If doctor’s orders prevent you from working at all until you recover from your injuries, workers’ compensation will provide 2/3 of your average weekly wage up to a maximum amount, which may change each year.
You are eligible for these benefits if you miss more than seven days of work. If you cannot work for more than 21 straight days, your benefits will cover your first seven days as well. Your first disability check should be paid within 21 days from the onset of your disability.
If you have suffered a “catastrophic” injury such as traumatic brain injury, loss of limb, severe burns or paralysis, you can receive these benefits indefinitely. However, if the injury is “non-catastrophic,” your TTD benefits are limited to 400 weeks from the date of your work injury.
Temporary Partial Disability Benefits (TPD)
When your doctor places you on light duty, and you return to work for less pay than you were earning before, workers’ compensation will cover 2/3 of the difference between your average weekly wage before and after the work injury – again, subject to a cap. These benefits will stop 350 weeks after the date of your injury.
You should know that you get a 15-day “grace period” in which you can try to work a light-duty job without losing your benefits if – as it turns out – you cannot do the work.
Permanent Partial Disability Benefits (PPD)
If you suffer a permanent injury, your doctor will assign a rating which indicates the percentage of your disability. That percentage is multiplied by the number of weeks specified under Georgia law for the injured body part, and the resulting total of weeks is multiplied by your TTD amount to arrive at your benefits amount.
The dependents of a worker who dies from a work-related injury or illness such as a spouse or minor children may be eligible to receive 2/3 of the deceased worker’s average weekly wage (subject to a cap) for a period of 400 weeks from the date of the death. You can also receive up to $7,500 in funeral and burial expenses.
Is an Independent Contractor Covered by Workers' Comp?
Georgia law requires any company that employs three or more workers – whether full-time or part-time, adult or minor – to provide workers’ compensation coverage. However, employers are not required to provide coverage to “independent contractors.”
If your employer challenges your eligibility for workers’ compensation benefits by claiming you are an independent contractor, you should get help from Hasner Law right away.
Regardless of what your employer says, you should be treated as an “employee” and entitled to workers’ compensation benefits if your employer:
Asserts control over the details of your work
Supervises the performance of your work
Provides tools and a site for you to do the work
Pays you on a regular or routine basis
Hires you to do work which is a part of the employer’s regular business
Requires you to work solely for him/her.
Hasner Law can help you to establish your employment status and reject any attempts by your employer to avoid its duty to provide workers’ compensation benefits.
How do I Know if Workers' Comp will cover my Injury or Illness?
You are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits in Georgia only if your injury or illness arose out of and in the course of your employment. For instance, you should be entitled to benefits if:
You were hurt in an accident at the workplace while performing assigned tasks
You were hurt outside of the workplace but while carrying out a work task such as a delivery or attending a business meeting or conference
You were exposed to toxic chemicals in the workplace
Your condition arose from repetitive strain or stress at work
Your pre-existing condition (such as lower back pain) was aggravated by an accident that occurred while you were working.
However, you may be denied benefits if your work injury or illness arose from:
Doing unassigned duties or during a break
An accident that occurred while you were commuting to and from work
Your own willful misconduct such as fighting, horseplay or working while you were intoxicated by alcohol or drugs.
Hasner Law can conduct a thorough investigation of your accident and your medical condition. We can help you establish the work-related nature of your work injury or illness and challenge your employer’s attempt to argue that it was not.
My Claim was Denied, What's Next?
To protect your right to workers’ compensation benefits, you must report your work injury to your employer within 30 days after it happens. If you cannot do it yourself, make sure to get someone to do it for you. If you fail to meet this deadline, your claim could be denied.
If your employer and/or its workers’ compensation insurer reject your claim, you have the right to file a Notice of Claim (Form WC-14) with the State Board of Workers’ Compensation and request a hearing. Hasner Law can assist you with filing this notice. You must file it within:
One year from the date of your work injury, or
One year from the date of your last treatment, or
Two years from the date you last received a weekly benefits check, or
One year from the date you discovered your occupational disease (or should have reasonably discovered it) and no later than seven years from the date you were exposed to a workplace hazard, or
One year from the date of your first disablement if you were diagnosed with asbestosis or mesothelioma.
Hasner Law will fight for you at every stage of your case, using our skills as negotiators and litigators to vigorously pursue the benefits you deserve.
Should your claim be denied, you have the right to appeal to a three-judge panel and, if necessary, continue to pursue your claim in the local Superior Court, Court of Appeals and, as a last resort, the Supreme Court of Georgia.
Can I Sue My Employer for Injury at Work?
If you obtain workers’ compensation benefits from your employer, it will be your “exclusive remedy.” In other words, you cannot sue your employer. However, if your work injury was caused by the negligence of a non-employer or non-co-worker, you may have the right to bring a personal injury claim that seeks a recovery, including:
Past and future medical expenses
Past and future lost income
Pain and suffering damages.
For example, if you suffered injuries in a car accident that was caused by a negligent driver or harmed by a defective piece of machinery, you could pursue a third-party claim.
If you have received workers’ compensation benefits, your employer (or its insurer) would have the right to recover those benefits from any settlement or judgment you obtain. This is called a “subrogation lien.”
Hasner Law can investigate your case to determine whether you have the ability to pursue a third-party claim. We will also seek to minimize the amount which is paid to satisfy the subrogation lien attached to your recovery.
You Don't Have to Do it Alone, Our Team of Accident Lawyers is Here to Help
When you need help from a skilled, experienced, caring and compassionate workers’ compensation lawyer, you can turn to Hasner Law. We focus exclusively on seeking maximum benefits for injured and ill workers in Atlanta, Savannah and throughout Georgia. We are ready to get to work for you today.
Don’t wait! Contact us now and get started with a free case review.
Sources / More Information