If you are an employee working in Georgia, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits depending on the circumstances of your case. The cash benefits are divided into various categories that are depending upon the nature of the injuries. For example the benefits will vary depending on whether you are completely out of work or whether you are only temporary incapacitated. Another relevant circumstance is if you are earning less money than before as a consequence of the injury. The courts will also consider if there has been permanent damage to any part of your body. These rules will directly affect the calculations of the amount of benefit that is paid and how it is paid.
When you are covered by the workers’ compensation law, you are entitled to medical treatment that is paid for by your employer. Moreover if you miss any work days due to the injury or are otherwise permanently injured, you could be entitled to any one or more of the three types of cash benefits listed below:
- Total Temporary Disability or TTD;
- Total Partial Disability or TPD; and
- Permanent Partial Disability or PPD.
Calculation of Benefits
The “average weekly wage” is the starting point for all calculations of benefits. It is applied, and then further applied to the sliding scale based on the impact of the injury as well as its categorization. The principle is to try to and compensate you for disability and to keep your earnings as close as possible to what they might have been without the injury. The calculator will compute the average wages from the last 13 weeks preceding the incident which led to the injury. The calculation will incorporate the basic salary/wage as well as any allowances (clothing, lodging, meals etc.), tips, and year end bonuses.
The average weekly wage is a double-edged sword in as far as it can reduce or increase your overall earnings depending on what you were doing in the 13 weeks prior to the injury. For example you could be at a disadvantage if in those last 13 weeks, you have reduced your work time or earned fewer tips than usual. Those that were hurt on the very first day of their job will obviously not have the 13-week window to use as a baseline. Hence the calculator will use a comparative analysis based on the earnings of an employee in a similar position to yours.
Temporary Total Disability Benefits
Those whose injuries result in total disability are entitled to TTD. This figure is calculated at two-thirds of average weekly wage, but can be no more than $500 per week for any incident that occurred on or after the 1st July 2007. Those that occurred prior to that date are not capped as long as they are within the two thirds rule. You can only get TTD for 400 weeks since the date of the injury. The only exception is if your injury has been deemed to be catastrophic in nature. Examples of catastrophic injuries include brain injury; paralysis; severe neurological disorders; amputation (leg, foot, arm and hand); and total blindness.
Consult with an attorney in order to confirm whether your injury falls within this category within the meaning of the Georgia laws. For example, you do not have be completely physically disabled in order to meet the threshold for “disability from work.” This is because the law considers whether the impairment significantly reduces your ability to engage in your job. A case in point is where you are able to do light work but your employer is unable to or unwilling to accept you as you are. This is a situation where you may still be entitled to TTD.
Temporary Partial Disability Benefits
If you are impaired but not totally disabled from work, you may be entitled to TPD. The principle purpose of TPD is to compensate you because you are no longer able to earn the level of wages that you expected per week based on your work. The calculation is that you get two-thirds of the difference between your average weekly wage before and after the injury. However TPD is capped at no more than $334 per week. Your employer is required to pay TPD even when you are now employed with a different organization. TPD can be collected for no more than 350 weeks.
Permanent Partial Disability Benefits
The payment of PPD is dependent on the level of physical disability. It does not focus on earning capacity like the other types. Hence you are able to get PPD even if you have never missed a single day of work or lost any wages due to the incident. PPD is calculated based on the percentage of impairment. This determination requires the professional opinion of a doctor and not your employer. It also considers the part of the body which has been impaired and your earnings prior to the incident. One of the conditions of PPD is that it does not begin until the TTD or TPD payments are exhausted.
Penalties for Late Payments
Employers are penalized at 15 percent of the outstanding balance if you do not get any of your benefits on time. The penalty does not remove the unpaid debt. A case in point is if the employer has incorrectly denied you a benefit that you are entitled to for a period of time. Another applicable case is if they miss a payment altogether or send it late.
You are not entitled to any cash benefits for the first seven days following the incident unless the injury has lasted for at least 21 consecutive days. The seven days can be paid back in arrears if the incapacitation period exceeds 21 consecutive days.
The contents of this article are indicative of the general rules relating to the cash benefits that employees are entitled to under the Georgia jurisdiction in relation to workers’ compensation laws. They are not a substitute for the legal advice of a competent attorney.
The attorneys at Bader Law Firm, LLC will work hard to get you the compensation that you deserve for your workers’ compensation claim. Our experienced, dedicated Savannah workers’ compensation attorneys will use the law to maximize your benefit amount.