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An Introduction to the Law, Rules and Regulations that Govern Workers’ Compensation in Savannah, GA

The workers’ compensation Scheme in Savannah (Georgia) was designed to act as an accident insurance scheme. It enables workers to secure compensation from their employers if they are injured whilst in the line of duty. The compensation that is awarded covers a range of issues including rehabilitation, medical expenses and income replacement. Ultimately the aim is to enable the worker to return to work or alternatively to earn as close as possible to what they earned prior to the incident. If the claimant dies then his or her next of kin can take their place and receive the compensation accordingly. The insurance covers workers from the very first day of their job.

Under Georgia law, any business that has more than two workers must sign up for worker’s compensation insurance. That requirement covers both part time and full time regular workers. The SBWC website can verify whether an employer is fulfilling their obligations to sign up. It is important that the accident is reported to the employer or supervisor at the earliest opportunity. In practical terms that means informing your foreman or supervisor immediately. The maximum reporting period is 3 0 days after the incident. If you miss this deadline, there is a high likelihood that you will lose all the benefits that could have arisen out of the claim.

Medical Services and Costs

Under the rules of the Georgia scheme, the employer is required to provide you with information about medical service practitioners. There are two ways in which they can meet this obligation. First they can post a list of physicians or doctors. This list must have at least six practitioners. The employee can choose any of them. The board has the mandate to add to the list if it is satisfied that the six doctors are not readily accessible to the claimant. The panel must have a list one orthopedic physician and no more than two industrial clinics. It is recommended that as far as is possible one of the physicians must come from a minority group. The claimant is allowed to make a single change of doctor on the list without first asking for permission from the employer.

The second way in which the employer can fulfill their obligation to provide a list of practitioners is to post the name of the worker’s compensation managed care organization which has been certified by the board. The employer will have contracted this WC/MCO to provide medical services to its employees. The employer must provide a notice of the eligible providers as well as a 24-hour toll free number for the MCO. Thereafter the MCO representative will schedule an appointment with an eligible service provider of your choice. Under the rules the claimant is allowed to make one change another doctor of your choice without having your employer clear the choice first. The employer must pay for the medical expenses with the authorized personnel as long as they arise from injury whilst in the line of duty.

The types of medical treatment that must be paid for include hospital bills, consultation fees, prescriptions, therapy, travel and injury related illnesses. Injuries that occurred prior to or on the 30th of June 2013 will be eligible for lifetime medical benefits. Thereafter Georgia has set a limit of no more than 400 weeks from the date of the accident. However injuries that are considered to be catastrophic may be entitled to lifetime medical benefits.

Payment of Benefits

The weekly income benefits kick in when the claimant is unable to work for more than seven days. The first check must be mailed to the claimant within 21 days after the very first day that they missed work. If they end up missing more than 21 consecutive days then the employer must pay for the first week as well in arrears. The benefits are set at two thirds of the average weekly wage that the individual earned prior to the incident. However they must not exceed $575 per week for any accident that occurred on or after the 1st of July 2016. Although it is possible to get Social Security and workers’ compensation benefits simultaneously, the former is reduced.

In cases the employee is able to return to work at a lower grade then they can get a reduced benefit that is based on their prior earnings. This covers a maximum of 350 weeks from the date of injury. However that benefit must not exceed $383 per week in cases where the accident happened on or after the 1st of July 2016. Where the incident occurred on or after the 1st of July 1992, the claimant can get benefits for up to 400 weeks subject to the recent changes that have occurred in 2016 as mentioned above. Where the claimant has suffered a catastrophic injury that keeps them from finding a new job then the State Board is under obligation to help them find another job through searches or retraining. The number to call in this instance is (404) 656-0849.

Degrees of Disability

There are varying degrees of disability payment dependent upon the nature of impairment. The authorized physician that is treating the claimant will determine the ratings based on the Guides to the Evaluation of the Permanent Impairment (5th Edition) which is published by the American Medical Association (AMA). The law sets out the amount of benefits as well as their duration. For example if you lose an arm, leg or any other part of the body you can get weekly payments for up to 225 weeks. The range of applicable disabilities include hearing and sight loss.

Death Benefits

If the claimant dies then their dependents will receive two thirds of their average weekly wage. However that is capped at $575 per week for any injury that occurred on or after the 1st of July 2016. The list of dependents may include the spouse, children and stepchildren. A widowed spouse with no children may receive no more than $230,000 in total. This applies unless the person remarries or cohabitates in a meretricious relationship.

If you’ve been injured on the job, Bader Scott Injury Lawyers can help you get the compensation that you deserve. The experienced attorneys at the Bader Scott Injury Lawyers are sensitive to the needs of every client will do everything the law allows to make sure that you get the maximum benefit allowed.

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Seth Bader
(678) 562-5595