If you are an employee, working in the United States, there is a very good chance that you are covered by workers’ compensation insurance that your employer is required to carry. Although every state has its own workers’ compensation laws, the general idea is the same everywhere you go, and that is to ensure that employees are covered, financially, when workplace injuries occur and that employers are safe from the risk of lawsuit. If you work in Savannah and you’ve been injured at work, you have a claim for workers’ compensation benefits.
No-Fault Workers’ Compensation System
Worker’s compensation is a no-fault system, which means that it doesn’t matter who caused the injury, as long as it occurred at work or while performing work related tasks; you’ll still be covered and eligible for benefits. There are certain exceptions, such as if the injury was intentional, if it was caused by illegal activities or willful misconduct, or if you were intoxicated.
However, the no-fault system does mean that if you made a mistake that caused or contributed to your injury, you can still receive workers’ compensation. Your employer cannot stop you from filing a claim just because you hold some share of responsibility for the accident. At the same time, if your employer was responsible for the accident, you cannot sue them. Workers’ compensation guarantees that workplace injuries are covered while protecting employers from lawsuits.
Does Your Injury Qualify For Georgia Workers Compensation Coverage?
If you work in the state of Georgia and have been injured (or have become ill) through the course of employment, then your injury or illness qualifies for workers’ compensation benefits. If you are the survivor of someone who passed away from work-related injuries or illnesses, then you are eligible for workers compensation death benefits as well.
Does My Employer Have To Carry Workers’ Compensation Coverage?
If your employer has three or more regular employees, then they do have to carry workers compensation coverage. This includes all types of employees, such as part-time, full-time, minors, and even those working illegally. If you’ve been injured on the job, and you work for an employer with three or more regular employees, then you qualify for workers compensation benefits (Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation).
What Workers Compensation Benefits Are Available In Georgia?
The Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation provides an Employee Handbook with detailed explanations of all benefits that you may be eligible for if you’ve been injured on the job. These benefits include medical coverage, income reimbursement, and death benefits.
Medical benefits will cover all necessary and reasonable medical expenses. This includes your doctor appointments, hospital stays, surgeries, physical therapy and rehabilitation, prescriptions, etc. It is important to note that you must see a physician who is approved by your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance company.
Income benefits provide reimbursement for lost wages is you must miss work for your injuries. If you do not miss any work or if you miss fewer than seven days, then you will not be eligible for income reimbursement. You will only be reimbursed for the first seven days if you miss more than 21 days of work. If your injury is catastrophic and prevents you from returning to work, then you can receive income benefits for as long as it takes for you to be able to return to work again, if you ever can. If the injury is not catastrophic, then you can receive benefits for up to 400 weeks. The rate of income reimbursement is 2/3 of your former average weekly pay.
Death benefits ensure that your dependents receive compensation if your workplace injury or illness results in death. This includes medical expenses, funeral and burial expenses, and lost wages.
Filing a Workers Compensation Claim In Savannah
It’s important to avoid wasting time when you’ve been injured at work and wish to file a workers’ compensation claim. If you don’t act quickly, you may lose your eligibility and right to receive benefits and compensation. You are required to notify your employer about the injury within 30 days of the incident. The longer you wait, the more harm you do to your claim.
What do I do after a work accident or illness?
Take action right away.
- Tell your supervisor about your injury. Be forewarned that if you do not inform them within 30 days after you sustained the injury, you will likely be ineligible for workers’ compensation benefits.
- Get medical care. You will have to visit an employer-approved doctor for your work-related injuries. Your employer should give you a list of physicians from which to choose. The only exception to the employer-approved doctor mandate is if your accident was an emergency situation. In this case, you can receive temporary care from any physician or facility.
- File a claim with the State Board of Workers’ Compensation (SBWC). Although not legally mandated, it is highly advisable to have a lawyer review your case prior to filing. The Bader Law Firm will make sure you do not make any mistakes on your claim and that you get the full amount of benefits to which you are entitled.
- Set up a consultation with us. We want to go over your case with you so you are prepared for whatever lay ahead. Read on to learn how we help our clients manage their cases and prove that they deserve benefits, even if the workers’ compensation insurance company denies their claim.
What If My Claim Was Denied?
If your claim is denied, you can appeal. You would be wise to do so with the representation of a qualified Savannah workers’ compensation attorney. The State Board of Workers’ Compensation will let you know if your claim is denied with a notice and explanation. You can then request a hearing where you can present the evidence that you deserve benefits. You can testify yourself, have experts testify, and have other relevant witnesses testify as part of your evidence. You can also collect the appropriate documents and records to prove your case.
If your claim is still denied, then you can appeal with the Appellate Division of the State Board of Workers’ Compensation. You have 20 days from receiving the notice of denial to file an appeal.
Third Party Liability Claims and Workers’ Compensation
If you are injured on the job, workers compensation covers your injuries while protecting your employer from lawsuit. Thus, you cannot file a lawsuit against your lawyer for a workplace injury unless willful misconduct applies. However, if there is a third party whose negligence contributed to your injuries, then you can file a third party claim in addition to your workers’ compensation claim. This could be the manufacturer or distributor of a defective product, the owner of hazardous properties, or the at-fault driver in an auto accident.
If you have a third party claim, you can collect additional damages, including noneconomic damages, like emotional distress and pain and suffering.
We Make Sure You Get All the Benefits You Deserve
Georgia workers’ compensation insurance laws, detailed in Georgia Code Title 34, Chapter 9, provide for several categories of benefits that you may receive.
- Medical benefits – Workers compensation covers all of your authorized hospital bills, lab work, doctor’s bills, and physical therapy, prescriptions, and necessary travel expenses so long as your injury occurred on the job. If you already paid medical bills, then you are entitled to reimbursement for those expenses.
- Income replacement benefits – If your injury causes you to miss more than seven days of work, you are entitled to income replacement checks. The duration of your eligibility for benefits depends on the nature, severity, and scope of your injury/disability. You may recover temporary total disability, temporary partial disability, or permanent partial disability.
- Rehabilitation – If you are no longer able to perform the same job you had prior to injury because of your disability, workers’ compensation will also pay for certain vocational rehabilitation services so that you can obtain training and return to the workforce.
The amount and types of benefits you can recover largely depends on the details of your case. Let us investigate your case so we can identify all of the benefits you deserve and ensure you receive a fair medical evaluation and impairment rating.
We Help You Get Catastrophic Injury or Death Benefits
Georgia specifies that workers who suffer catastrophic injuries are entitled to benefits indefinitely or until able to return to work. Ensuring the correct classification of an injury as catastrophic is vital because otherwise, benefits stop after 400 weeks. Examples of injuries that Georgia considers catastrophic are spinal cord injuries causing paralysis, severe brain injuries, amputations, severe burns, and more.
Insurers may vaguely interpret eligibility requirements, though. That is why it is so important to establish a thorough case backed by medical evidence. We work with medical experts and collect all the necessary evidence we need to make our argument that your injury is, in fact, catastrophic under the state’s requirements.
Meanwhile, if a worker died because of a work accident or illness, the deceased’s family will receive death benefits that include income replacement and funeral and burial expenses. The deceased’s spouse and minor children may qualify as beneficiaries. The spouse may receive benefits until he or she remarries or cohabitates with a partner, while the children get benefits until they turn 18 or 22 if enrolled in school.
Benefit of Working With Workers’ Compensation Attorney
In some situations, a workers compensation claim is simple. If you are injured on the job and miss a day of work, you notify your employer of the injury, and a First Report of Injury is filed by your employer. Then the company that provides the workers’ compensation coverage reimburses your medical expenses and settles the claim. However, there are situations where the employer might deny coverage, pressure the employee to return to work too soon, or dispute whether or not the employee’s own behavior was willfully reckless. In situations like this, you need a workers’ compensation attorney to represent you.
With the right legal representation from a qualified attorney, you will find that your workers’ compensation claim goes much more smoothly. You will have an expert on your side to gather and interpret evidence, present your case, and ensure that you receive the compensation that you deserve. Keep in mind that Georgia law requires that lawyers charge no more than 25% of your benefits, so legal representation should be affordable for any injured employee.
We Help You Deal with Whatever Challenges Arise
You are not required to hire a workers compensation attorney to file a claim or appeal a denial. But in most cases, a lawyer can be very helpful to ensure you exercise all of your rights, build a solid case to prove your entitlement to benefits, and handle any issues that arise throughout the process. There are lots of factors that can complicate a claim and increase the likelihood of running into speed bumps with your benefits.
- What if your injury is difficult to prove? (e.g., soft tissue injuries, pain conditions, etc.)
- What if the insurance company claims your condition was pre-existing and not work-related?
- What if the insurance company incorrectly tabulates your income replacement benefits? Did they include your regular overtime when calculating your average weekly wages?
- What if your disability rating winds up being much lower than it should be?
- What if you go back to work, but your condition worsens again?
- What if you inadvertently do or say something after the accident or during the claims process that thwarted your rights to benefits? (e.g., missed medical appointments, not sticking to your treatment plan, etc.)
- What if your treating doctor okays you to return to work but you are honestly not well enough yet?
See how quickly things can go wrong? The Bader Law Firm works to preempt many of these issues and preserve your rights and best interests. And if they do arise, we help you manage and overcome them. Plus, when you have a lawyer, you will be able to rest a little easier knowing that you do not have to handle any legal issues on your own; you will have an advocate who is on your side, protecting what is important to you.
To learn more about workers’ compensation, visit the SBWC’s website and download a copy of the SBWC Employee Handbook. For an easier, much more employee-friendly read, you can request a free copy of Seth Bader’s book, 9 Common Mistakes That Can Destroy Your Workers’ Compensation Case and How To Avoid Making Them.
Workers’ Compensation Lawyers in Savannah
It is easy to find a workers compensation lawyer in Savannah, Georgia. Simply call a local attorney who specializes in personal injury and workers’ compensation claims and request a consultation to discuss the intricacies of your case and how best to move forward.