Stephen Hasner | Workers' Compensation | September 19, 2016
When you get hurt at work, it can be difficult to know how to proceed. When employees suffer severe and debilitating injuries, they often cannot return to work and require substantial medical treatment. The cost of medical bills and rehabilitation services, combined with the financial blow of lost wages, can be too much to bear.
You should know that sustaining a serious injury on the job, regardless of how the accident happened, does not mean that you will have to go without a paycheck. Any employee in Georgia who gets hurt at their workplace should file a claim for workers’ compensation benefits. And if you do get hurt at work, it is important to understand the steps you must take to make sure you seek all benefits to which you are entitled.
In short, you must take specific steps within the first 30 days following your injury to protect your eligibility for workers’ compensation benefits. If you have any questions or concerns, an experienced Georgia workers’ compensation lawyer can assist with your case.
Worker’s Compensation For Georgia
Before you begin the process of filing a workers’ compensation claim, it is important to understand some of the basics of workers’ compensation and how it can help employees who get hurt on the job.
According to the Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation Employee Handbook, employees should know that they have “certain rights, benefits, and responsibilities,” and that their employers also have certain “obligations and responsibilities regarding all employees.”
SBWC Workers’ Compensation Definition
According to a fact sheet from the State Board of Workers’ Compensation in Georgia (SBWC), workers’ compensation “is an accident insurance program paid by your employer which may provide you with medical, rehabilitation, and income benefits if you are injured on the job.”
Workers’ compensation “is an accident insurance program paid by your employer which may provide you with medical, rehabilitation, and income benefits if you are injured on the job.”
Ultimately, workers’ compensation benefits are aimed at helping injured workers return to the job once they have completed treatment and rehabilitation.
How do you know if your employer has workers’ compensation coverage? The State Board of Workers’ Compensation explains, “The law requires any business with three or more workers, including part-time workers, to have workers’ compensation insurance.”
As long as you work for an employer who is required to have coverage, you may be eligible to file a claim starting on the first day of your job in the event that you suffer an injury. You can verify whether your employer has workers’ compensation coverage by visiting the SBWC website.
Employee’s Responsibilities Following a Workplace Accident
If you do sustain a severe or disabling injury while you are on the job, what do you need to do? The Employee Handbook and the SBWC website help clarify with the following information:
1. Report your injury within 30 days.
First, and most importantly, the SBWC emphasizes that you need to report your injury to your employer within 30 days of the accident. If you wait more than 30 days before you report the accident, you may not be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. As such, it is extremely important to adhere to this timetable and to recognize that you need to act quickly if you want to be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits in Georgia. Typically, your boss, your supervisor, or your foreman each can count as an “employer” for the purposes of reporting.
2. See a certified WC/MCO physician.
After you get hurt at work, you will need to make an appointment with a certified Workers’ Compensation/Managed Care Organization (WC/MCO) physician to be evaluated and obtain medical care.
To maintain your eligibility for workers’ compensation benefits, the SBWC Employee Handbook highlights that you must be evaluated and treated by a doctor on your employer’s posted list. Your boss is required by Georgia state law to post a list of at least six doctors.
The only exception to this part of the law concerns an emergency medical situation. If you require immediate emergency treatment, you can visit a physician that is not on the posted list.
Once the emergency is over, however, you must seek treatment from a physician that is on the approved list. You also need to cooperate with your treating physician and provide relevant information to him or her. If your job is considered to be an on-the-job injury, your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier will pay for your medical treatment.
3. File your workers’ compensation claim.
Once you have reported your injury and have received immediate medical attention, you will need to actually file your workers’ compensation claim. To submit a claim, you will need to complete a form known as a WC-14, which you will then need to file with the State Board of Workers’ Compensation.
You are also required to submit a copy of your completed WC-14 form to your employer as well as to your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier.
As such, the process for actually filing your claim includes multiple steps:
- Fill out your WC-14 form.
- Make at least three copies of your completed WC-14 form.
- Submit the original WC-14 form to the State Board of Workers’ Compensation.
- Send a copy of your completed WC-14 form to your employer.
- Send a copy of your completed WC-14 form to your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier.
- Retain a copy of your completed WC-14 for your own records.
Once you have filed your claim, you may be approved for weekly income benefits as long as an authorized treating physician has said you are unable to work for more than seven days. The SBWC explains that an injured employee can receive two-thirds of his/her average weekly wage, but the employee cannot receive more than $575 per week.
Making sure that you have taken all of the necessary steps for your workers’ compensation claim within the first 30 days following your injury can be daunting. A dedicated workers’ compensation lawyer in Atlanta can help.
At Hasner Law, we have 60 years of combined experience assisting clients throughout the entire state of Georgia with their workers’ compensation claims. Contact us today to discuss your case.