Sustaining an injury while on the job can make it difficult, if not impossible, for an injured party to pay medical bills and stay financially afloat while taking time off. Fortunately, under Georgia law, employees who are injured at work can receive medical care and partial coverage of lost wages until they are able to return to work or have reached maximum medical improvement.
However, complying with the procedures required by the workers’ compensation laws can be difficult, especially when a person is suffering from the pain of a serious you sustained an injury or contracted an occupational illness at work, it is critical to contact an Albany workers’ compensation lawyer who can ensure that your claim is filed correctly and that your rights are protected.
When an injured employee is able to provide proof that they were injured while on the job, he or she has the right to receive certain benefits, including compensation for medical expenses. Injured workers are also entitled to receive weekly income benefits in the following amounts:
- Two-thirds of their average weekly wage for up to 400 weeks if an injury was non-catastrophic;
- Two-thirds of their weekly wage for catastrophic injuries, such as serious head trauma, or amputation; and
- The difference between what an employee is able to make if he or she has to accept lower-paying work as a result of the injury and what he or she would be making if the injury had not occurred.
In most cases, workers’ compensation benefits are only provided for a certain time period. For instance, once a doctor has determined that an employee’s health is stable and that additional treatment will not improve functionality, the patient will have reached maximum medical improvement (MMI).
While in some situations this means that the injured worker has made a complete recovery, in others it is an indication that the patient’s progress has plateaued and that full recovery is not anticipated, even with additional treatment.
Permanent Partial Disability Ratings
Once a physician has made this determination, he or she will give the injured employee a permanent partial disability rating (PPD), which takes into account the percentage of permanent impairment suffered by the employee as a result of the accident. This rating can be applied to the body as a whole or to a single body part. After this determination, the patient will be eligible to receive a lump sum award or a structured settlement.
When assigning a rating, physicians are directed to evaluate a variety of factors, including:
- The type and severity of the injury or condition suffered by the worker;
- The patient’s symptoms;
- The loss of function experienced by the patient;
- The patient’s level of pain;
- The injured party’s ability to perform basic tasks, such as standing, sitting, bending, or lifting; and
- The employee’s strength and level of endurance.
The percentage assigned by the physician is then multiplied by a predetermined number of weeks, which is then multiplied by two-thirds of the injured party’s average weekly wage. The number of weeks by which the injured party’s rating is multiplied depends on the severity of the injury.
For instance, a permanent partial injury to a person’s arm is compensable for 225 weeks. An injury to the pinky finger, however, will only be compensated for 25 weeks. The list of other compensable injuries includes the following determinations:
- A partial, but permanent injury to the leg will be compensated for up to 225 weeks;
- Injuries to the hand are compensated for no more than 160 weeks;
- A permanent foot injury can be compensated for up to 135 weeks;
- The loss of hearing in one ear can be compensated for up to 75 weeks;
- A loss of hearing in both ears is compensable for up to 150 weeks;
- A loss of vision in one eye can be compensated for up to 150 weeks; and
- Injury to the body as a whole can be compensated for up to 300 weeks.
Some injuries are so severe that they do not receive a rating, but are presumed to be compensable on a total and permanent basis. For instance, someone who lost their arms, feet, hands, or legs, or permanently lost the vision in both eyes will automatically receive permanent and total disability benefits, although the conclusion can be rebutted.
All PPD ratings assigned in Georgia are based on the fifth edition of the Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment. However, if an employee does not agree with a rating assigned by a physician, he or she has the right to request an independent evaluation from an alternative physician.
Once a patient has received a rating, the treating physician will submit a report to the injured worker’s employer. Generally, the employee will begin receiving PPD benefits immediately, although there may be a delay if an employer wishes to dispute the physician’s decision.
The PPD benefits are paid weekly and in addition to providing a portion of the employee’s wages, will cover the cost of medical expenses related to the injury. However, employees should be aware that even when they have begun receiving their PPD benefits, their claim may not be officially settled.
Contact an Experienced Albany Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Today
Georgia law requires employers to purchase workers’ compensation insurance to compensate employees in the event of a work-related injury. These benefits can prove crucial to an injured party’s ability to receive necessary medical care and eventually return to work, while also covering all medical bills and household expenses. Unfortunately, the workers’ compensation program is notoriously difficult to navigate and legitimate claims are often denied for a failure to comply with filing deadlines or to submit the necessary documentation.
Having the advice of an experienced and compassionate workers’ compensation attorney can make all the difference in the outcome of a case and the speed with which it is resolved, so if you or a loved one were injured while on the job and have questions about filing a claim, please contact Hasner Law at to speak with a workers’ compensation lawyer who can address your concerns.