Savannah Workers' Compensation Lawyer
Have you been hurt at work? The workers’ comp system is complicated. There is a lot of red tape and rules about when you can and cannot receive benefits. For that reason, it’s important to talk to an attorney in Savannah who specializes in workers’ compensation cases to ensure that you get the benefits you deserve. Give the Savannah workers’ compensation lawyers at Hasner Law, PC a call to schedule a free consultation. We have over 30 years experience helping people get the money they deserve.
What is Workers’ Comp Insurance?
Workers’ comp is a type of insurance that is paid for by your employer. It was created to help cover an injured worker’s medical bills, rehabilitation costs, and lost income. In Savannah, Georgia, your employer is required to carry a workers’ comp policy if the company has at least three employees.
What Injuries Are Covered by Workers’ Compensation?
Now, workers’ compensation benefits apply only to injuries that occur “on-the-job.” This means that your injury must arise out of your employment. In other words, it has to happen in the course of your employment while you were doing the work that you were paid to do. This can sound a bit complex, so let’s consider a few instances where you would not be entitled to workers’ comp.
First, you are not eligible for workers’ comp benefits if your injury occurred during your commute to or from work. You are also not entitled to benefits for accidents that happen while you are on a break. Further, workers’ comp does not cover willful misconduct.
Generally speaking, the program offers what is referred to as “no fault” coverage. This means that even if an accident occurs because of a mistake you made, you will still be eligible to receive benefits. However, if you intentionally hurt yourself or got into a fistfight with another employee, this would be considered willful misconduct and you would not be eligible for benefits.
Types of Workplace Injuries We Can Help With
Workers’ comp covers a wide variety of injuries that occur in the workplace. The most common types of injuries are those caused by overexertion. This often happens when an employee is lifting or moving heavy objects. Trips and falls are another common cause of on-the-job injuries.
We also assist clients with less common workplace accidents, such as:
- Vehicle collisions
- Electrocutions, and
- Injuries from repetitive motion (which can lead to issues like carpal tunnel).
Make no mistake about it, these accidents can take a toll on the body. We’ve seen injuries like sprains, fractures, inflammation, head trauma, amputation, spinal cord damage, and in some cases even death. Don’t ever assume that your injury won’t be covered, regardless of how minor or severe you think it is.
What Happens After an Injury?
After an accident, it’s important to notify your employer as soon as possible. Note that if you wait longer than 30 days to report your injury, you may be denied workers’ comp benefits. Further, you must receive medical care from a physician that has been pre-authorized by your employer. In other words, you cannot simply visit your family physician for these types of injuries. Your employer is required to furnish you with a list of approved physicians for you to choose from.
Now, there is an exception to this rule in cases of emergency. If you are in need of urgent medical care, you may visit the ER. You will then be reimbursed for the emergency medical bills. Bear in mind that any follow-up care for your injuries must be obtained through a pre-authorized medical provider.
It’s important to follow the guidelines for recovery issued by your doctor. This might mean making appointments with specialists, taking your medication, and doing rehabilitation therapy. Failure to follow these recommendations could jeopardize your eligibility to continue receiving benefits. If you are having any issues with treatment, your medical provider, or obtaining reimbursement, reach out to a workers’ comp attorney. We are here to help.
What Benefits Am I Entitled To?
Keep in mind that the amount of benefits you are eligible to receive from workers’ comp is based on two factors:
- The nature of your injury, and
- Your income prior to the accident.
Here’s what you might be able to recover.
Medical Bills and Expenses
In most cases, you can get all of your medical bills related to the injury covered as well as any rehabilitation treatment you need to recover.
Lost Wages and Disability Benefits
With that in mind, income benefits depend on whether your injury is classified as temporary or permanent, and whether you can return to work in some diminished capacity (such as light-duty or reduced hours) or are completely unable to work. You are generally entitled to receive two-thirds of your lost income, up to the amount set by law.
So, if you are completely unable to work, the amount you would receive in income benefits would be two-thirds of your total income before the injury. If you are working for less money, the amount you would receive in income benefits would be two-thirds of the difference between your current income and the income you earned at your previous position.
Now, in most cases you can only get weekly income benefits until you are either healed or reach the maximum number of weeks set by law. However, if your injury is considered catastrophic or permanent, you may be able to get income benefits for the rest of your life.
Note that if your injury prevents you from returning to work at your previous position, you may also be entitled to what is known as “vocational rehabilitation.” Vocational rehabilitation may include programs such as job training and career counseling to help you find a new position.
In addition, if you have a loved one that was killed in an on-the-job injury, you may be entitled to death benefits, including burial expenses. An employee’s dependents may also be entitled to receive weekly benefits to compensate for lost wages. This amount is generally two-thirds of the deceased employee’s pay, up to the maximum amount set by law.
Claims Against People Other Than Your Employer
It may be the case that something other than your working conditions or another employee caused your injury. If this situation occurs, you would not go through the workers’ comp program and would instead look into filing what is known as a “third-party claim.” This is a personal injury lawsuit that would seek to hold the person liable for your injury.
Note that the term third party does not include your employer or your supervisor. Injuries involving these individuals would likely be covered under workers’ comp. An example of an accident that would involve a third party would be getting hit by a drunk driver while you are out making deliveries for your employer. These types of cases can be very complex, so it’s important to consult with a qualified Savannah workers’ compensation attorney.
When to Seek Help from a Workers’ Comp Attorney
Workers’ compensation lawyers have a comprehensive understanding of the claims process and can help you at all stages. The attorney can evaluate your case to determine whether or not you will likely be eligible for benefits. If you are already receiving benefits, the attorney can determine whether or not you are getting the appropriate dollar amount, and make sure that you continue to receive payments for the correct length of time.
Now, you may be interested in receiving a lump sum settlement instead of monthly payments. An attorney can help negotiate this amount with the insurance company on your behalf. Further, if you are denied benefits or do not receive all of the benefits you are entitled to, an attorney will help you file a claim with the State Board of Workers’ Compensation (“the Board”) in Chatham County.
The Board will schedule a hearing on the matter and your attorney can represent you and present your side of the case. The Administrative Law Judge presiding over the hearing will then make a ruling.
Note that sometimes these cases go to mediation instead of a hearing. At the mediation, you will sit down with a neutral party known as a mediator to try to come to an agreement that is beneficial to everyone.
In either case, if you receive an unfair decision, you may appeal the matter. This is done first to the Board’s appellate division, and if necessary, to the civil courts. An attorney can help you take on the challenging appellate legal system.
Contact a Savannah Workers’ Compensation Attorney Today
Remember, if you are denied benefits you must file a workers’ comp claim within one year. Failure to do so will result in you losing your right to receive benefits. For that reason, it’s important not to delay.
Contact our Savannah law firm today for a free no-obligation case assessment. We have years of experience handling complex workers’ compensation claims. If you are injured on the job, have someone on your side to make sure you have the best chance of getting the benefits you are legally entitled to receive.