Many people who have been injured at work in Georgia have questions about the weekly workers’ compensation benefits and payments that they will be receiving. For example, people want to know how much they can expect to receive in wage replacement, how their designation as temporarily totally disabled, permanently totally disabled, or temporarily or permanently partially disabled impacts those benefits, and even what happens to their legal obligations, like child support, when they become disabled and receive workers’ compensation benefits.
To begin with, let’s look at how the amount of your wage benefits is determined. While you may have heard that it depends on the injury or some legal statute, the reality is that there is a guideline based on the average weekly wage (AWW) that determines your workers’ compensation weekly payments. Your average weekly wage is determined based on your most recent check stubs or on your most recent tax return. Then, the value of 2/3 of that average weekly wage is calculated, and this is how much you receive each week: 2/3 of your AWW.
This is only for those who have been diagnosed with an injury that qualifies as a temporary total disability or permanent total disability. In cases where you have a temporary or permanent partial disability, you will be expected to return to work with restrictions. You may get light duty work from your current place of employment, or you may have to find new employment that meets your restrictions. In any event, your new wages are likely going to be less than what they were. In these cases, your weekly payments are determined based on 2/3 the difference between your former wages and your current wages.
To illustrate how this works, imagine that you used to make $500 each week, but your temporary or permanent partial disability restrictions have led to occupation in a profession that pays $350 per week. To calculate your workers’ compensation payments, you’ll subtract your new wages from your old wages, in this case, coming to $150. Then, figure out what 2/3 of the difference is, or 2/3 of $150, and you come to $100.
So, in this case, you will be getting your new weekly income at your new occupation, along with a weekly payment of $100 from workers’ compensation. If your disability is labeled as temporary, then you can only receive this compensation for 13 weeks from the date of your injury, or until such time as you are able to return to your former wages. Further, there is a cap on what you can receive each week, and that cap in Georgia is currently $550, though it can change periodically, for injuries that occur after the increase.
On the other hand, if your injury is severe and permanently disabling, then you can get weekly workers’ compensation income benefits for up to 400 weeks. The only exception to this is if your injury is severe enough to be called ‘catastrophic.’ This applies in situations where you lose a limb, experience severe burns, end up with severe permanent scarring, are paralyzed, or experience another injury that significantly impairs your life
What If You Settle Your Workers’ Compensation Claim?
You do have the option of settling your Georgia workers’ compensation claim. This means that you will no longer be able to receive medical benefits or weekly income benefits for your injury, though you will receive a lump sum payment that will, hopefully, be adequate to cover your medical and living expenses. It can be difficult to determine whether or not this is in your best interests, and what settlement amount would justify the decision, without speaking to a Georgia workers’ compensation attorney. It does offer the benefit of being able to walk away from the situation without having to deal with the insurance company or the employer anymore, and being completely finished with the whole workers’ compensation process. However, if your settlement is not enough to cover your needs, you may be left in a difficult situation. Contact the Bader Law Firm, LLC to schedule a free consultation and learn about your options.
What Happens If You Owe Child Support While Pursuing Workers’ Compensation?
This is one of the most common questions that we hear at the Bader Law Firm, because there are plenty of workers in the state of Georgia who are legally and morally required to pay to support their children. Yet, when a workplace injury occurs, you may be without income for a period of time as your workers’ compensation claim is initiated and argued. So, what happens if you fall behind on your child support in the process of pursuing workers’ compensation?
The best thing you can do, if your child support is not already automatically taken from your checks, is to talk to the custodial parent about the situation. This is both so that they can be prepared for the change in payments and also so that they can work with you, if possible, while you get through the challenging times ahead. The other parent may be willing to agree to an arrangement where they will receive what is owed at a later date, when your claim is in a more solid position and you are receiving wage benefits.
Yet, may child support cases involve automatically withdrawing the payments from your checks. If this is the case, then the other parent can’t help by agreeing to a more comfortable arrangement during the difficult time. In such cases, you will probably see your support payments deducted from your weekly workers’ comp payments, when you start receiving them. It is possible to reduce your payments after a workplace injury, however.
If you settle your claim in a lump sum arrangement, then a large portion of this may be taken out before you see it and used to pay what you owe in child support. In some cases, it might even take the entire settlement, if you are far enough behind. Your workers’ compensation attorney can help you with the legal challenges and may be able to find suitable solutions to your child support debt while you pursue your workers’ compensation claim.
Call the experienced Georgia work injury lawyers at the Bader Law Firm, LLC today to learn more with your free consultation.