Most employers in Georgia are required to have workers’ compensation insurance. This means if you get hurt on the job, you are probably eligible for workers’ compensation benefits covering your medical treatment, lost earning capacity and possibly other effects of your injuries. A licensed Albany workers’ compensation lawyer can help you through every step of the process, fighting for the benefits you are entitled. Roden Law’s workers’ compensation attorneys offer a free, no obligation legal consultation to learn more about your situation. This means there is no risk to you in contacting us to determine your options. We will not charge legal fees or other costs unless you receive compensation. Our experience lawyers have in-depth knowledge of workers' compensation laws and how they affect your claim.
At Roden Law, we are well-versed in Georgia laws on workers’ compensation, including the process of appealing a claim. We are fully prepared to file an appeal if you are denied benefits or are not receiving all the benefits you deserve.
Schedule a free legal consultation today by calling 1-844-RESULTS.
Workers' Compensation Benefits in Georgia
The workers’ compensation system offers a variety of benefits based on the physical and financial effects of your injury. These include:
Every injured worker who is approved for benefits is entitled to compensation for any medical bills that are reasonable and necessary for your treatment. The only requirement is that your treatment must be authorized.
Examples of reasonable and necessary medical expenses could include bills for any of the following:
- Doctor visits
- Hospital stays
- Physical therapy and rehabilitation
- Prescription drugs
- Travel to and from doctor appointments
Under state law, employees must be reimbursed for authorized medical expenses within 30 days of submitting an itemized receipt. However, mileage expenses must be reimbursed within 15 days.
You are entitled to compensation for medical benefits for as long as you are receiving treatment for your injury, up to a maximum of 400 weeks. The only exception to this is for injuries that are deemed to be catastrophic.
An Albany workers’ compensation lawyer can help you gather all bills and receipts to help ensure you are compensated for all medical expenses.
Temporary Partial Disability
Many workers who apply for workers’ compensation have suffered an injury that forces them to work fewer hours or reduce their responsibilities for a period of time, lowering their monthly income. These workers may be able to get temporary partial disability benefits.
Temporary partial disability is worth two-thirds of the difference between your earnings after the injury and your average weekly wage (AWW). The AWW is equal to one-thirteenth of what you earned in the 13 weeks before you were injured.
If your AWW was $600 and you are earning $300 because of the limitations from your injury, you would be entitled to approximately $198 in temporary partial disability. The limit for this benefit was $383 per week, as of July 1, 2016, according to the summary of workers’ compensation provisions. You can receive this benefit for up to 350 weeks from the date you suffered the injury.
Permanent Partial Disability
This is very similar to temporary partial disability. The difference is your injury is permanent and will affect you for the rest of your life. You will receive the same amount you would receive if you were temporarily disabled. The maximum benefit you can receive is $575 per week.
The two types of permanent partial disability benefits are known as:
- Scheduled awards – The State Board of Workers’ Compensation (SBWC) has scheduled awards for the loss of certain body parts or the loss of use of those body parts. For instance, if you lost an arm, you can receive permanent partial disability benefits for a maximum of 225 weeks. If you lost the use of hearing in one ear, you could receive benefits for up to 75 weeks. If you lost the use of a hand, you could receive benefits for up to 160 weeks.
- Unscheduled awards – Any permanent partial disabilities that are not on the schedule may be eligible for unscheduled awards. These awards are often given to workers who suffered injuries to their head or internal organs. Your treating physician will assign you a rating according to guidelines from the American Medical Association’s Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment. You can receive an unscheduled award for a maximum of 300 weeks.
The Albany workers’ compensation attorneys at Roden Law have detailed knowledge of the regulations on permanent partial disability. Our goal is to pursue all the compensation you deserve for as long as you need it.
Temporary Total Disability
Some workplace injuries make it completely impossible to do work for a temporary length of time. If you are unable to work for more than seven days, you may be entitled to temporary total disability benefits. This benefit is equal to two-thirds of your AWW.
The most you can receive is $575 per week. There is also a limit on the number of weeks you can receive benefits of 400 weeks. The only exception to this is for a catastrophic injury.
The only way you can receive compensation for the first seven days you are disabled is if you are disabled for at least 21 days. Otherwise you will not be compensated for these first seven days.
Permanent Total Disability
This is the same as temporary total disability, except you receive this benefit for the rest of your life. There is no limit to the number of weeks you can receive this benefit.
This benefit is only for extremely severe injuries, such as going blind in both eyes or losing both of your arms.
Contact our Albany workers’ compensation lawyers right now for a free legal consultation. We can review your situation to determine all the benefits you are entitled. We know how valuable compensation can be when you are unable to work or work in the capacity you did before you were injured.
Complete a Free Case Review form right now.
What Injuries Qualify for Workers’ Compensation?
Workers are often unsure if their injury qualifies for workers’ compensation benefits. The truth is that many injuries qualify for benefits.
Any injuries that are caused by accidents that arise out of or in the course of your job are covered by workers’ compensation, according to Official Code of Georgia Annotated (O.C.G.A.) 34-9-1(4).
Arising out of employment may sound confusing. This means there must be a causal connection between your work and your injury. In the course of employment means the accident occurred when you were at work, while you were fulfilling your duties, at a place where you would be reasonably expected to be performing your duties.
This means that almost any injury could qualify for benefits if it satisfies either of these standards. This includes injuries caused by common accidents in the workplace, such as:
- Fires/explosions – These often occur in dangerous jobs, such as working on an oil rig out in the ocean. Fires and explosions can also occur in jobs where people are exposed to machinery or wiring with high voltage electric current. Fires and explosions can cause severe burns, including second and third-degree burns.
- Hit-by/falling debris – Workers are often hit by objects, which includes accidents where objects fall onto a worker or where workers are pinned to a wall by an object or between two pieces of machinery. A common example of this type of accident is when a worker gets hit by a metal beam or piece of machinery that falls from somewhere on a construction site. These accidents can cause severe bruising and lacerations, internal injuries and possibly lost limbs.
- Machinery accidents – These are accidents involving malfunctioning pieces of machinery. This could include safety equipment that is meant to prevent injuries to employees.
- Walking into objects – Sometimes workers walk into a door, table, wall or cabinet. There are also situations when workers bump into a sharp edge of a wall, door or box and sustain a severe cut or laceration.
- Slips, trips and falls – This includes accidents when workers fall from a significant height. For instance, a worker could fall off a scaffold or catwalk. There are also accidents when workers slip on sticky or wet floors. In the winter, workers could slip on icy sidewalks or other surfaces covered with ice.
- Motor vehicle accidents – Workers who are driving somewhere for work or operating a company car could be involved in a variety of car accidents. There are also accidents involving workers who are hit by trucks or other vehicles that are being used to do a job.
Aggravation of a Pre-Existing Injury
Georgia’s workers’ compensation system also covers the aggravation of pre-existing injuries. You must establish that your condition got worse because of something you did in the course of your employment.
For example, if you already had back problems but your work caused you to suffer a herniated disc, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. However, you can only receive benefits until your condition improves to where it was before it became aggravated.
Sometimes your work can cause you develop a disease, such as mesothelioma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cancer or toxic encephalopathy. These diseases are often caused by exposure to toxic substances, such as asbestos, coal dust, silica dust or pesticides. Some workers also lose their hearing because of exposure to loud noises.
These and other types of occupational diseases may qualify for workers’ compensation benefits. However, Georgia excludes certain diseases or conditions unless you have enough evidence to show they were caused by the performance of usual work:
- Heart disease
- Heart attack
- Blockage of coronary blood vessels
The Albany workers’ compensation attorneys at Roden Law can carefully review your situation to determine if you developed a disease that qualifies you for benefits. Schedule a free, no obligation consultation today to determine your legal options.
Filing a Workers' Compensation Claim
When a workplace injury occurs, tell your employer about it as soon as possible. Tell your supervisor what happened, how it happened and the symptoms you are experiencing.
You must report it within 30 days or you may be denied benefits when you apply. It is best to report the injury right away to avoid making your employer suspicious. If you wait, your employer may make the process more difficult and try to deny benefits, arguing that the injury was not caused by your work.
Once you notify your employer, fill out Form WC-14: Notice of Claim and send it to the SBWC. You also need to send a copy of this form to your employer and its workers' compensation insurer.
You must submit this form within one year of the date of your injury. Otherwise you lose the right to apply for workers’ compensation benefits. In the case of an occupational disease, you have one year from the date you became aware of your disease or should have become aware by exercising reasonable diligence. This is according to the Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation Employee Handbook.
If you need emergency treatment right after the injury, you can get medical care from the nearest hospital or emergency room.
However, once the emergency is over, Georgia requires you to seek treatment from a physician on a list provided by your company. This list should be posted in a visible location in your workplace. Unfortunately, you cannot seek treatment from your personal physician for a workplace injury if you want to receive compensation for your medical bills.
If you do not like the first doctor you pick after he or she provides treatment, you can switch to another doctor on the list. However, after that first change, any more changes must be approved by your employer or workers’ compensation administrator.
Deciding on Your Claim
Your employer’s workers’ compensation insurer will review your medical records and schedule a functional capacity evaluation to determine your ability to perform your employment duties. The insurer will also review your experience, education and wages.
If you are granted benefits, you will begin receiving benefits within 21 days of the first day you missed work.
Our Albany workers’ compensation lawyers can answer your questions about applying for benefits. We can also help you appeal if you are denied benefits and you disagree with the decision.
Fill out our Free Case Review form right now.
What if my Claim is Denied?
When a claim is denied, or an employee receives less benefits than he or she believes or deserves, the employee has the right to appeal to the SBWC. You can file Form WC-14 and indicate on the form that you want a hearing to appeal the decision.
Once the form is received, the SBWC will decide whether or not to schedule an appeal hearing and do an investigation. The SBWC may also request that you go through mediation under the board’s guidance. In mediation, a third-party comes in to attempt to negotiate a resolution that both sides can agree on.
If a hearing is scheduled, it will take place before an administrative law judge. The proceeding will be similar to a trial in a courtroom. Both sides will present their case and the judge will make a decision.
If you do not get a favorable result at the appeal hearing, you can file an appeal with the SBWC’s Appellate Division. You must file this appeal within 20 days of the judge’s order. You can request an in-person hearing or submit a written argument.
The next step if you are still being denied benefits or receiving less than you deserve is to appeal to the Georgia Superior Court. You must do this within 20 days of the decision by the SBWC’s Appellate Division.
Under Georgia law, the superior court cannot overturn the SBWC’s decision unless it finds that one of the following things have happened:
- There was a lack of evidence for the decision that was made
- The decision was not consistent with the law
- The board acted outside the scope of its authority
An Albany workers’ compensation lawyer can manage every step of the appeals process, including representing you at hearings or mediation. We know how to build a strong case as we try to obtain the benefits you are entitled.
Allowing an attorney to manage your appeal allows you to focus on healing from your injury. Your attorney can keep you informed throughout the process so you know what you need to do to help your case.
At any point, the insurance company or your employer may reach out in an attempt to resolve the situation. It is advantageous to have a lawyer working with you on this because he or she can advocate for your best interests. Our lawyers will not accept a settlement unless it provides the compensation you deserve.
Contact Roden Law today by completing a Free Case Review form.
Can You Sue Your Employer?
In most situations, the only way to obtain compensation for a workplace injury is to file a workers’ compensation claim. The law prohibits you from suing your employer.
However, if another party was involved in your injury, you may be able to sue them to obtain compensation. These are also known as third-party lawsuits. For example, you could file a lawsuit against an equipment manufacturer, general contractor, subcontractor, engineer or architect that played a role in your injury.
In a third-party lawsuit, you must prove the at-fault party was negligent and that your injury was caused by negligence. In a workers’ compensation claim you do not need to prove negligence was involved. Negligence means another party was reckless or careless.
These lawsuits are personal injury lawsuits, which means they are governed by the personal injury statute of limitations. Under Georgia law, the statute of limitations is two years from the date of your injury. If you do not file a lawsuit within those two years, you lose the right to do so.
Our Albany workers’ compensation attorneys can review your situation to see if you might be able to file a third-party lawsuit. Our goal is to help you recover all the compensation you deserve.
Contact Our Albany Workers' Compensation Lawyers
Have you suffered a workplace injury?
The attorneys at our firm understand how difficult it can be to recover from these injuries. We know how valuable workers’ compensation benefits can be as you try to heal and return to work.
Our workers’ compensation attorneys can help you through every step of the process. This includes filing forms and preparing for each step of the appeal process.
We offer all injured workers a free, no obligation legal consultation to discuss what happened. If you have a viable claim, we can represent you on contingency. This means you will not be charged unless you receive compensation.