Many people have questions about workers’ compensation, and there’s a very good chance that your question has been asked by hundreds of other injured workers. Today, we’ll look at the most commonly asked questions concerning the workers’ compensation system in Georgia. If you have questions that we didn’t address, please let us know in the comments or give the workers’ compensation attorneys at the Bader Law Firm a call. We’re happy to provide a free consultation and make sure that all of your questions are answered.
What Does Workers’ Compensation Cover?
The goal of workers’ compensation is to provide insurance to employers and employees for any accidents that may occur on the job. Your employer pays the premiums, and you can turn to that insurance for medical and wage benefits if you are injured at work.
Workers’ compensation covers your medical expenses, your prescriptions, your surgeries, your physical therapy, and 2/3 of your wages while you are out of work. If you are able to return to light duty work, with a lesser pay than you are used to receiving, then workers’ compensation will cover 2/3 of the difference between your former wages and your current wages. If you are killed by a work related injury, then workers’ compensation will cover your dependents.
Workers’ compensation is available to you from the day that you start working for the employer, and your employer is required to have it if they employ more than two workers, even if you and/or other workers are a part-time or temporarily employed.
How Do I Make Sure That My Injury Is Covered by Workers’ Compensation?
The most important thing to do to make sure that your injury is covered is to notify your employer, right away. Your employer should then notify the workers’ compensation insurance company. If you do not report your injury within 30 days, you may not be eligible to receive benefits for that injury. If your employer fails to notify the insurance, you can do so yourself.
Can I See Any Doctor I Choose for My Injury?
In most cases, you cannot see any doctor you choose for your injury. If your injury is an emergency, then you can go to the nearest emergency room. Beyond this, you will have to choose from an employer approved physician. There should be information posted in your place of employment that informs you about the approved physicians, and there must be at least six.
Will I Receive Workers’ Comp Benefits Right Away?
You will not start receiving workers’ compensation benefits right away. Rather, you will have to be out of work for more than seven days to start receiving wage benefits. You should receive your first workers’ compensation wage benefits check within 21 days. Those first seven days will not be covered unless you are out of work for more than 21 days.
Will I Receive My Same Weekly Wage on Workers’ Compensation Benefits?
You will not receive your same weekly wage with worker’s compensation. Rather, you will receive 2/3 of your average weekly wage, based on recent check stubs or tax returns, for up to 400 weeks. As of July 2016, you cannot receive any more than $575 per week in workers’ compensation wage benefits, even if 2/3 of your weekly wages is more than that amount.
In situations where you are able to return to work at a lower paying position or to a different job that pays less, you can receive 2/3 of the difference between your former wages and your current wages for up to 350 weeks. In this case, the limit is $383 per week, as of July 2016.
What Benefits do Dependents Receive if I am Killed by a Workplace Injury?
If a workplace injury proves fatal, then your dependents are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits to cover 2/3 of your average weekly wage (max $575 per week as of July 2016). If you have a spouse, children, or step children who are dependent on you, then these are considered to be your dependents by workers’ compensation.
If you don’t have children, then your spouse can recover no more than $230K, total. If he or she remarries or lives with someone else, then those benefits will stop at that time.
How Do I File a Claim if My Employer Does Not Help With the Process?
Ideally, your employer will help you to initiate the process of filing a workers’ compensation claim when you report your injury. However, if your employer fails to do so, you can file a workers’ compensation claim on your own by contacting the State Board of Workers’ Compensation in Georgia to receive Form WC-14. You can call 404-656-3818 or 1-800-533-0682. You can also reach the State Board of Workers’ Compensation via mail at the address, 270 Peachtree Street, NW; Atlanta, GA 30303-1299. Form WC-14 is also available on the website of the State Board of Workers’ Compensation, at www.sbwc.georgia.gov. For more assistance with obtaining these forms, filling them out, and starting your claim, call the Bader Law Firm.
Do I Have to Have an Attorney at a Workers’ Compensation Hearing?
You do not have to have an attorney at the workers’ compensation hearing, though we certainly recommend that you consider hiring one. Your employer will probably have one, and you will benefit from the guidance and advice of a skilled Georgia workers’ compensation attorney. The Bader Law Firm is here for you, so call for a free consultation today.
How Much Will it Cost To Hire a Georgia Workers’ Compensation Attorney?
Not all attorneys charge in the same manner or the same rate. You will want to seek a free consultation from an experienced Georgia work injury attorney like those at the Bader Law Firm. This way, you can learn more about the process, what to expect from the hearing, and what the attorney will charge for your case. Having said that, the attorney’s fees must be approved by the State Board of Workers’ Compensation for any fees over $100, and we are not allowed to charge more than 25% of the weekly benefits or lump sum settlement that is awarded to you.