Experienced Workers' Compensation Counsel
Work injuries are different from all other types of injuries. Georgia's Workers' Compensation Act is very complicated and restricts the types of benefits you can receive. Furthermore, seeing the wrong doctor can make a huge difference in the compensation you receive.
We have decades of experience with workers' compensation cases and the ability to help you navigate the complicated rules to help you get the medical and income benefits you deserve.
Getting Employers to Acknowledge the Injury
In Georgia, your employer is required to pay for medical treatment for injuries caused by your job. Also, it is required to pay a weekly income benefit equal to 2/3 of your weekly wage when you miss work due to an injury caused by your job.
Yet, when a worker is injured because of his or her job, an employer may not even acknowledge the injury is work related. To get benefits, we must first prove that your injury was work related. This is much easier if you fell off a ladder or were hit on the head by a falling object. It's more complicated, however, if repetitive work duties caused your injury over time.
We have experience proving repetitive work duties caused gradual injuries. For instance, we have successfully proven that standing at a cash register aggravated preexisting diabetic foot ulcers, excessive walking and climbing stairs caused knee injuries requiring surgery, and driving a bus caused a rotator cuff tear in a shoulder. Workers in each of these claims were entitled to benefits.
Medical Treatment and Evidence is Key
When you're injured at work, you may be required to see a specific doctor for your employer to pay for your medical treatment. If you see the wrong doctor, the employer may refuse to pay.
When defending a claim, insurance companies first look at your medical records. Everything you tell the doctor, and everything the doctor sees and thinks about your injuries, is in those records. Some doctors in Georgia get a lot of business from employers and are known as employer-friendly. They are likely to say your injuries aren't work related or that you can return to work sooner than you should. Other doctors are claimant-friendly and are willing to say your work caused your injuries. We know which are which.
We also know how to get medical evidence that insurance companies can't ignore.
Reviewing All Options
We help injured workers force employers to pay for medical treatment and a portion of lost wages while the worker is unable to work due to the work injury. When you're injured, you may have other legal issues too. You may be entitled to Social Security Disability benefits from the Social Security Administration. You may have short- or long-term disability insurance and that insurer may refuse to pay the appropriate benefit. You may be entitled to Veteran's Affairs benefits or have to take early retirement.
We will learn about your case and identify any and all other benefits to which you may be entitled. We work with a network of skilled attorneys who are able to handle any legal issue that may arise. Also, we will work with any other attorneys you hire to make sure you receive the maximum amount of money possible.
Answering Your Questions
Here are our answers to common questions about Georgia's workers' compensation law.
1. Who is entitled to workers' compensation?
As long as your employer has hired two other workers besides you, it must carry workers' compensation insurance. If you sustain an injury while working, you have a right to file a claim, no matter how long you have been working with your employer.
2. What do I need to do to get workers' compensation?
After you receive any urgent medical help, you should report the accident to your employer. You will lose your right to a claim if you let 30 days pass without reporting your accident. The next step is to file Form WC-14 with the Georgia State Board of Workers' Compensation within one year of the date you are injured.
What happens next?
After the Form WC-14 is filed, the insurer will review your claim and either approve or deny your benefits. The insurer may require additional information about your injury and anything you say will be recorded and can be used to deny your claim.
If your claim is denied, the next step is to request a hearing before the State Board of Workers' Compensation. During the hearing, an administrative law judge will listen to your case and decide whether you should receive benefits. Although you may represent yourself at the hearing, it's not a good idea. The employer will have an attorney and they may argue there is some legal reason you are not entitled to benefits. For instance, independent contractors who meet a very specific definition are not entitled to workers' compensation benefits.
3. What types of benefits can I receive?
Injured workers are entitled to receive medical treatment for all injuries caused by work, a weekly income benefit of 2/3 the weekly wage (before taxes) for time missed from work due to work injuries, and a payment for the future loss of use of any injured body parts (known as a partial permanent disability ("PPD") payment).
4. What is a panel of physicians?
There are certain doctors you are allowed to see during the workers' compensation process. Your employer must post either a traditional panel of physicians or the name of their managed care organization (MCO).
The panel of physicians is a list of at least six doctors from which you must choose a doctor to treat your injuries. This doctor is known as an authorized treating physician ("ATP"). A managed care organization ("MCO") is an organization that will help you schedule an appointment with a doctor from a list of eligible doctors. All medical treatment must come from the ATP or MCO, or a doctor to whom you are referred.
5. What medical expenses are covered under the workers' compensation law?
Georgia workers' compensation law covers medical costs related to the accident, including:
- Doctor bills from authorized treating physicians and referral doctors;
- Hospital bills;
- Physical therapy and other rehabilitation services;
- Prescription costs;
- Mileage to and from doctors and pharmacies; and
- In some cases, home modifications and special vehicles for transportation.
You must request reimbursement within one year of any medical expenses. Also, you typically can receive medical treatment for 400 weeks after the accident and longer only if you meet certain requirements.
6. Am I entitled to mileage?
Yes. You should receive payment for any travel expenses caused by your on-the-job injury.