Answers to Commonly Asked Questions About Workers’ Compensation

Doubt, uncertainty, and confusion can quickly cause painful situations to escalate into catastrophic traumas. Personal experience has taught us that when an accident victim allows his concerns to overwhelm his determination for justice, he neither gets relief nor justice. This is why we feel that getting answers to your injury questions are extremely important not only to relieve stress, but also to build a stronger injury claim. Allow us to address your concerns and come see for yourself how a simple answer can make a difference.

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  • How much is my Workers' Comp case worth?

    How much a workers’ compensation case in Georgia is worth depends on a number of factors, including the severity of the injury, the duration of time off work, and past and projected future medical costs. In Georgia, an injured worker is entitled to benefits equaling 66 2/3% of his average weekly wage during the time that he or she is out of work. The current maximum benefit payable to injured workers in Georgia is $575 per week, although this figure is subject to change by the Georgia legislature. The average weekly wage of an injured worker is calculated by looking at the 13 weeks prior to the date of the injury. In instances where an employee has not been on the job for 13 weeks, he or she should be paid benefits based on the compensation rate of a similar employee with a similar job.

    You can use our Workers’ Compensation Calculators to determine the following:

    • How many weeks of workers’ compensation benefits you are entitled to
    • How much your impairment rating is worth
    • The present value of future benefits
    • How many more years the insurance company is considering regarding their future exposure in your claim

    Please don't hesitate to call our Workers' Compensation lawyers in Atlanta if you have additional questions at 404-355-2688.

  • What Is The Process In Filing A Workers’ Compensation Claim?

    In order to initiate a workers' compensation claim, your attorney will electronically file a Form WC-14 with the State Board of Workers’ Compensation.  If a hearing is requested, which will be done if we feel that the employer and its insurer are not providing you with all of the benefits to which you are entitled, then the insurer will assign the file to an attorney to defend the claim within a few weeks of us filing the hearing request.  The parties will then go through a discovery process in which each side will serve typewritten questions called interrogatories as well as requests for documents upon the opposing party.  The defense attorney will also likely want to schedule your deposition, in which you will provide oral testimony about your claim.  The deposition will typically take place at your attorney’s office, and there will be a court reporter present who will take down your testimony.  If there is a dispute regarding medical treatment, the insurer may schedule you for an independent medical examination (IME) to get another opinion.  Under certain circumstances, we also may send you for an IME to get an opinion to bolster your case.  Ultimately, your case will proceed towards a hearing before an administrative law judge.  However, most cases reach a settlement prior to you ever having to appear in court.

  • How can I maximize my workers’ compensation claim?

    Workers’ compensation benefits provide a vital safety net for employees who’ve been injured on the job. However, it’s crucial that you actively advocate for your right to a fair settlement.

    Report Your Accident Immediately

    work work injury claim form

    Even if you’re only mildly uncomfortable, report your accident as soon as it happens. It’s quite possible that your initial discomfort may turn into something more serious. If this happens and your employer has no record of your accident, they will likely argue that you were hurt outside of the workplace. When it comes to your workers’ compensation benefits, a “wait and see” approach should be avoided at all costs.

    Many employers have internal deadlines regarding accident reporting, with some being as short as 24 hours. Georgia law requires that the report must be made within 30 days of the event. When you report your injury, provide as many details as you can regarding the circumstances of the accident. Ask any coworkers who saw the incident to verify that your account is accurate.

    Create a Detailed Paper Trail

    Once you’ve reported your injury, keep detailed records regarding the progress of your claim. Ask for copies of medical exams and test results as well as any other expenses you’ve incurred as the result of your injuries. Keep an appointment log noting the date, time, and name of every contact person you speak to regarding your case.

    Lining up witnesses to testify on your behalf can also be useful in boosting your compensation. For example, you might ask friends or family members to provide statements regarding the effect your injuries have had on your daily activities.

    Listen to Your Doctor

    Refusing to follow your doctor’s recommendations regarding your medical care may result in your benefits being denied. You’re within your rights to ask for information regarding treatment side effects and any potential risk, but skipping appointments altogether will send the message that you’re not fully invested in your recovery.

    Listening to your doctor also means following any recommendations regarding what activities you can and can’t do. If you’re not supposed to be lifting anything heavier than 25 pounds, don’t decide to use your time off work to landscape your front lawn. Many insurance companies will use private investigators to verify that you’re being truthful about your injuries, so being seen engaged in unauthorized physical activity will severely damage your case.

    Remember That the Insurance Adjuster Isn’t Your Friend

    An insurance adjuster's job is to make decisions that are best for the insurer's bottom line. He doesn’t care if you need a settlement to help pay your mortgage or student loans. The first offer you receive will likely be much less than what your claim is truly worth. Negotiating for the compensation you deserve is a must.

    Be Persistent

    One common mistake that injured workers make is assuming that a denied claim is final. A large number of claims are initially denied, but an experienced workers' compensation attorney can turn that denial into a settlement on your behalf.  Don't give up if your claim is denied.  Instead, you should immediately contact an attorney for a consultation.  

    Seek Legal Assistance

    It’s difficult to be objective about your claim when you’re focusing on recovering from your injuries and worried about how to pay your bills. A skilled workers’ compensation attorney can help prepare your case and advocate for the highest settlement available.

    Your attorney will take into consideration factors such as:

    • Your work restrictions.
    • Your permanent partial disability rating.
    • Your previous earnings.
    • Past medical expenses.
    • Future medical expenses.

    Your attorney can also investigate the possibility of third-party claims. If another party’s negligence caused or contributed to your injury, this can substantially increase your compensation. For example, you may be eligible to pursue a personal injury claim against the manufacturer of faulty equipment or the driver of another vehicle that caused your work-related accident.

    Rechtman & Spevak is dedicated to helping Georgia residents receive fair and timely workers’ compensation settlements. Please call 404-355-2688 or fill out our online contact form to get started with a free, no-obligation consultation.

  • How much is it going to cost me to hire an attorney on my workers’ compensation claim?

    No matter what attorney you hire on your Georgia workers’ compensation claim, the fee is going to be the same.  All lawyers who handle these types of claims will charge you 25% of the income benefits that they obtain on your behalf.  This amount is regulated by state law.  This fee only applies to money that your attorney gets for you.  If you are already receiving benefits prior to hiring your attorney, or if the benefits are started voluntarily by the insurer, then your attorney doesn’t get any part of that.  Attorneys usually earn their fee out of a settlement at the end of your case.  However, you shouldn’t worry about having to pay a percentage of your settlement to your attorney.  This is because an experienced workers’ compensation attorney will get you significantly more in settlement than the insurer would pay you if you were unrepresented.

  • What is reasonable and necessary medical care in a worker's comp case?

    Georgia law requires employers to provide medical benefits as part of workers' compensation for employees who've suffered on-the-job injuries. However, only reasonable and necessary medical expenses are covered.

    Defining Reasonable and Necessary Medical Care

    Under Georgia workers' compensation law, "reasonable and necessary" is thought to mean treatment in line with the standard of care for a specific condition.

    For example, if you fell and broke your arm while delivering packages for FedEx or UPS, you'd expect to be provided with a diagnostic x-ray and a cast. If you sprained your ankle slipping on a wet floor while helping a customer at Lowe's or Home Depot, you'd expect to be provided with crutches and physical therapy exercises to help the injury fully heal.

    Generally speaking, emergency room visits, basic diagnostic testing, limited physical therapy, and painkillers prescribed right after an injury are unlikely to be denied.

    However, requests for coverage are often debated when medical expenses involve:

    • Specialized equipment with deluxe features not found on standard models
    • Modifications to the home to accommodate a disabling injury
    • Care provided by attendants with little or no medical training
    • Alternative treatments such as massage, yoga, acupuncture, chiropractic care, or water therapy
    • Surgery
    • Pain management
    • Psychiatric care
    • Extensive diagnostic testing
    • New and experimental treatments with little research to support their effectiveness
    • Duplicative treatments ordered by multiple doctors
    • Specialized treatment ordered by a non-specialist health care provider

    Some of the expenses a workers' comp insurance company may attempt to deny may very well be medically necessary. For example, modifications to the home would be an excessive expense for an employee with a minor back injury, but a perfectly reasonable request for someone suffering from permanent paralysis.

    The Value of Legal Representation

    If you're having trouble getting workers' compensation benefits to include medical expenses you believe are reasonable and necessary, it's a good idea to contact an experienced attorney who can advocate for your needs. Letting an attorney negotiate on your behalf maximizes potential compensation while giving you more time to focus on recovery from your injury.

    Rechtman & Spevak's legal team is committed to helping injured Georgia residents resolve their workers' compensation claims fairly and promptly.  Contact us today to schedule a free, no-obligation initial consultation.


  • How can I prove I am not an independent contractor to get the workers’ compensation benefits that I deserve?

    In the modern economy, misclassification of workers is a significant and growing problem. While it was once rare for workers to be considered independent contractors, a large section of the workforce is now under this classification.

    On the surface, the differences between an employee and an independent contractor may appear to be minimal. Some Georgia companies regularly hire employees and independent contractors to work side by side doing very similar tasks. However, if you’re hurt at work, being misclassified as an independent contractor will lead to a denial of workers' compensation benefits.

    Proving the Nature of Your Relationship

    In the simplest terms, an independent contractor is someone who does not have taxes taken out of his check and has no access to employer-provided benefits such as health insurance, a retirement plan, and paid vacation.

    However, a business can’t simply decide on its own that you are an independent contractor. There is a specific legal definition for this term based on a number of different factors related to behavioral control, financial control, and the nature of your relationship with the business.

    Classifications Based on Supervision of Work

    • You are likely an employee if you have a supervisor who determines when, where, and how you must perform your work.
    • You are likely an independent contractor if you work with minimal supervision and the business is only concerned with the end result of your work.

    Classifications Based on Training

    • You are likely an employee if the business provides you with specific training designed to help you perform your work in a certain way.
    • You are likely an independent contractor if it is assumed that you either have the necessary training to do your job or will seek out training on your own time.

    Classifications Based on Evaluation of Work

    • You are likely an employee if your work is evaluated based on how it is performed.
    • You are likely an independent contractor if your work is evaluated based on the quality of the final product or service.

    Classifications Based on Nature of Services

    • You are likely an employee if your work is a key part of the business. For example, if you are a server or cook in a restaurant, your employer is likely controlling your work to a significant degree.
    • You are likely an independent contractor if your services do not relate to the business’s core mission. For example, consultants who provide accounting or marketing assistance to a manufacturing company are likely to be considered independent contractors.

    Classifications Based on Investment in Materials and Supplies

    • You are likely an employee if the business you work for provides you with the tools necessary to perform your work.
    • You are likely an independent contractor if you are required to buy the materials needed to perform your work, such as a computer, specialized software, and general office supplies.

    Classifications Based on Opportunity for Profit and Loss

    • You are likely an employee if you’re paid a fixed hourly rate or a set salary.
    • You are likely an independent contractor if you can either profit or lose money, based on the time and expenses necessary to complete your work.

    Classifications Based on Permanency of Relationship

    • You are likely an employee if you have a fixed, ongoing relationship with one business.
    • You are likely an independent contractor if you are hired for a specific project or task and regularly work with more than one business at a time.

    How Rechtman & Spevak Can Help

    If you believe that your employer is trying to inaccurately classify you as an independent contractor in order to deny you access to workers’ compensation benefits, it’s vital that you seek the assistance of an experienced attorney as soon as possible. Do not take the risk of representing yourself, as mistakes can leave you responsible for your own medical expenses and lost wages.

    Rechtman & Spevak’s attorneys are committed to helping Georgia employees receive the worker’s compensation benefits that they are entitled to. Call today to schedule a free, no-obligation initial case review.

  • How can I tell if my illness is work-related?

    Doctor measuring blood pressure of female patient in hospital officeWorkers’ compensation claims involving on-the-job accidents are normally fairly straightforward. It’s easy to establish a cause and effect relationship when a worker suffers injury due to a fall or a malfunctioning piece of equipment.

    Claims for work-related illnesses are more complex because the illness is often the result of cumulative exposure or could mistakenly be attributed to activities that occurred outside the workplace.

    Claims for Occupational Hearing Loss

    Hearing loss is one of the most common types of work-related illnesses. Anyone who works in an environment where he or she is regularly exposed to loud noises is vulnerable, although construction workers and those who are employed in manufacturing facilities report the highest number of these types of claims.

    Work-related hearing loss is covered under workers’ compensation law. However, testing may be done to rule out other possibilities for your condition, such as infection or a head injury.

    Claims for Skin Conditions Related to Chemical Exposure

    Florists, hairdressers, manicurists, cooks, janitors, and certain types of manufacturing workers often spend large portions of their day in contact with harsh chemicals. These chemicals can be linked to several different skin conditions.

    • Irritant contact dermatitis. A painful but curable skin condition, this disorder can be the result of long-term exposure to chemicals.
    • Allergic contact dermatitis. Patients with this type of skin condition can experience effects immediately or after prolonged exposure. The effect is permanent once sensitization occurs.
    • Skin cancer. Contact with carcinogenic chemicals can lead to skin cancer, which could in some cases be fatal.

    Claims for Mesothelioma or Asbestosis

    Exposure to asbestos over many years can lead to mesothelioma or asbestosis. Construction workers, carpenters, plumbers, electricians, engineers, firefighters, machinists, heavy equipment mechanics, and welders are just a few of the various professionals who are considered to be at risk for these illnesses. Claims for such occupational diseases are subject to an enhanced standard of proof to establish that the illness is work related. Therefore, it is essential that you have an experienced workers' compensation attorney assist you on these claims.

    Claims for Exposure to Contagious Diseases

    Common illnesses such as the cold or flu are not eligible for workers’ compensation. However, if you work in a nursing home, hospital, doctor’s office, or other healthcare setting, certain types of contagious diseases can be considered work-related if you can establish that you were infected while performing your job duties. This includes tuberculosis, brucellosis, or Hepatitis A.

    Claims for Workplace Food Poisoning

    Food poisoning can be considered eligible for workers’ compensation if you can trace the illness back to food supplied by your employer. If you become ill after eating food you’ve brought from your own home or purchased for yourself at another location, the illness is not considered work-related. Reports of similar illnesses among coworkers who ate the same meal are often sufficient to establish a link between your employer and your need for medical treatment.

    Claims for Mental Health Conditions Related to Workplace Trauma

    Treatment for mental health conditions related to your work may be covered under workers’ compensation, as long as the psychological condition arose following a physcial injury caused by an on-the-job accident.  In the absence of a physical injury, psychological problems such as depression and PTSD are not covered under Georgia law.  

    Protecting Your Right to Compensation

    If you’re experiencing difficulty obtaining workers’ compensation benefits for an illness that you believe is related to your employment, obtaining legal representation is a must. An experienced attorney can help line up the evidence you need to document the cause of your condition, thus protecting your right to medical treatment and income replacement benefits.

    Rechtman & Spevak’s attorneys are committed to helping injured Georgia residents access the workers’ compensation benefits they need to move forward with their lives. Call today to schedule a free, no-obligation case review.

  • Am I taking any risks by representing myself in a workers’ compensation claim?

    If you’ve been injured in a work-related accident, you may find yourself wondering if it’s really necessary to hire an attorney. The answer to this question depends upon the circumstances of your case, but most workers will find that having someone to advocate for their right to compensation helps them to receive the benefits they need to move forward with their lives.

    When Is It Possible to Represent Myself in a Workers’ Compensation Claim?

    You are not legally required to have an attorney to receive workers’ compensation benefits. In fact, some cases can be easily settled without an attorney. You can comfortably represent yourself if your case meets all of the following criteria:

    • Your employer agrees with your claim that your injury is work-related.
    • The insurance company is promptly responding to your request for benefits.
    • Your injury is minor, such as a sprained ankle or small cut requiring just a few stitches.
    • You missed little or no work due to your injury.
    • You have no pre-existing medical conditions that could complicate your case.

    When Do I Need to Protect Myself by Hiring an Attorney?

    Hiring a workers’ compensation attorney to represent your interests is essential if your cases meets any of the following criteria:

    • Your employer denies that your injury is work-related.
    • Your benefits are being delayed by the insurance company.
    • Your employer has attempted to retaliate against you for filing a claim.
    • You’ve missed several weeks of work and are worried about making ends meet due to the resulting drop in income.
    • Your injuries are serious enough to result in a permanent partial or total disability.
    • You’ve received a settlement offer that only covers part of your medical expenses.
    • You disagree with your physician’s assessment of the severity of your injury.
    • You have a pre-existing condition that has complicated your treatment.
    • You’re also receiving Social Security disability benefits and/or Medicare.

    You may also have a potential third-party claim, such as a personal injury suit related to a motor vehicle accident that occurred while you were driving a company vehicle.

    What Services Can an Attorney Provide?

    Some of the services a skilled workers’ compensation attorney can provide include:

    • Identifying the worth of your case based on the severity of your injuries and your future earning potential.
    • Getting the right medical evidence to support your case,
    • Finding vocational experts who can testify about the physical requirements of your job or what type of work you can be expected to perform given the nature of your injuries.
    • Structuring a settlement so as not jeopardize Social Security disability or Medicare benefits.
    • Negotiating with the insurance company on your behalf.
    • Monitoring the progress of your claim so you’re free to focus on recovering from your injuries

    It is vital to remember that the workers’ compensation system no longer serves as an adequate safety net for injured workers. In many cases, the law favors employers and their insurance companies. Without an advocate on your side, you risk having your claim unfairly denied or being offered less than what you truly deserve.

    Can I Afford to Hire a Workers’ Compensation Attorney?

    If you’re currently unable to work and watching your medical bills pile up, it’s understandable to be anxious about adding to your financial burden. However, workers' compensation cases are handled by attorneys on a contingency fee basis. In other words, the attorney will get a percentage of what he or she gets for you. Any attorney you hire to handle your Georgia workers' compensation claim can charge you 25% of what they recover on your behalf. Your attorney will not receive any portion of benefits that are already being voluntarily paid by the insurer.  The attorney only gets paid this percentage on benefits or a settlement that he or she gets for you that you were not able to obtain on your own. There is no upfront cost, and if your attorney doesn't get you a settlement or any additional benefits, there’s no fee.

    How Do I Get Started with My Case?

    If you’re having trouble getting your employer and their insurer to pay benefits following a work-related injury, Rechtman & Spevak’s attorneys can help. Call today to schedule a free, no-obligation initial case review.

  • I missed the deadline for filing a workers’ compensation claim. Can I just file a personal injury lawsuit instead?

    If you’ve been injured in a work-related accident, you might be wondering if it would be easier simply to file a personal injury lawsuit to cover your expenses. Unfortunately, workers’ compensation is a program that’s entirely separate from personal injury law. You can normally only receive benefits from one type of claim at a time.

    Differences in Standards of Fault

    The biggest difference between workers’ compensation claims and personal injury suits is the standard of fault applied.

    In a personal injury case, you must establish that another party is responsible for your injuries. For example, if you were in a car accident, you’d need to prove that the other driver was speeding, tailgating, or otherwise driving in an unsafe manner that caused you to be injured.

    In a workers’ compensation case, there is no requirement to prove fault. You can receive benefits even if your own inexperience or inattention caused your injuries. As long as you weren’t engaged in horseplay or under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time, the only requirement is that you must have been injured while on the job.

    Differences in Standards for Damages

    Another important difference between workers’ compensation and personal injury claims involves the type of damages you’re able to receive.

    A personal injury claim can include damages for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Since pain and suffering is often calculated as a multiplier of verifiable medical expenses, compensation can be substantial in cases involving serious injury.

    A workers’ compensation case allows you to receive medical treatment from an approved provider, weekly income benefits, and compensation for permanent injury. You are not compensated for your pain and suffering, even if your injuries result in a lifelong disability.

    Differences in Processing Time

    In most cases, workers’ compensation claims will be settled in a more timely fashion than a personal injury suit. Workers with a cooperative employer and fairly straightforward cases often begin receiving benefits within days. In comparison, even a relatively simple personal injury case requires the assistance of an attorney for ensuring a fair settlement.

    Differences in Litigation Outcomes

    Since workers’ compensation cases don’t require you to establish negligence, it’s generally easier to win a workers’ compensation case at trial. However, in both workers’ compensation and personal injury claims, it’s advantageous for most cases to be settled out of court.

    You Generally Can’t Pick and Choose

    Unfortunately, there is normally no option to pick which type of legal action you wish to pursue. If you were hurt on the job, workers’ compensation is your exclusive remedy. You can’t opt to forgo workers’ comp benefits and initiate a personal injury suit against your employer or any coworkers who played a role in the accident that caused your injuries.

    Exceptions to this rule include:

    • If you have been injured in a work-related car accident caused by a driver who does not work for your employer, you can seek both workers’ compensation and personal injury benefits. However, your employer will have a lien for benefits paid out on your workers' compensation claim on any personal injury settlement you receive.
    • When your injuries are due to a defect in equipment used at your place of employment, you may be able to sue the manufacturer for damages. However, just as with a work-related motor vehicle accident, your employer will have a lien on any personal injury settlement you receive.

    Protecting Your Right to Compensation

    If you’re having trouble accessing your workers’ compensation benefits, seeking legal representation ensures that your case proceeds in a timely fashion. Rechtman & Spevak’s attorneys are dedicated to helping injured Georgia workers receive the compensation they need to move forward with their lives. Call today to schedule a free, no-obligation initial case review.

  • When does workers’ compensation cover injuries that do not occur at a job site?

    To be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits, you must sustain an injury that occurs during the course of work-related activities. This rule may seem fairly straightforward, but there are some gray areas that can occur when injuries happen while you’re away from your normal job site.

    Business Travel Injuries

    Injuries occurring during travel to work-related meetings, conferences, or other business trips would be covered under Georgia’s workers’ compensation law including work related car accidents. If you’re traveling to a location for several days, you’re considered to be acting in the scope of your employment for the entire duration of your trip.

    For example, a doctor who works for Emory Healthcare may need to travel to San Francisco to attend a medical conference. If the conference lasts for one week from 9 am to 5 pm each day, injuries occurring in the early morning or evening hours would still be covered. Since he’s attending the conference as a condition of his employment with Emory Healthcare and is unable to return home each night, workers’ compensation law covers his activities for the entire duration of the trip.

    Injuries Occurring During Training

    Injuries that occur during required training for your current position or a promotion are covered under workers’ compensation law, regardless of whether they occur at your regular job site or at a secondary location. Training is considered a work-related activity.

    Injuries from Company-Sponsored Events

    Company-sponsored events such as picnics, retirement parties, or holiday celebrations generally fall under workers’ compensation law. Even though their purpose is primarily social and occur away from your regular job site, they are considered work-related because they are sponsored by your employer.

    Commuting Injuries

    If your injury occurred during your commute to or from work, it’s probably not covered by Georgia workers’ compensation law unless you were driving a company-provided car at the time. The primary exception to this rule is workers who have no fixed office location.

    Most workers report to a specific job site each day, but people in certain occupations may travel regularly between locations and thus have no fixed office space. For example, a salesperson may work out of his car while traveling to meet clients, and a custodian working as a contractor for a cleaning service may visit multiple commercial buildings and work a few hours at each site. In cases like this, injuries occurring at each location of business or while traveling to the assigned location are considered eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.

    Lunch Break Injuries

    Traveling off company property for your lunch break will typically result in your injuries being denied for workers’ compensation benefits. However, you might be covered if you were picking up lunch for your boss or meeting with clients while you were eating.

    On-Call Injuries

    If you work in a field that requires you to be on call for your employer, injuries occurring during this time period may be covered even if you’re not actively performing work for your employer at the time. Coverage will depend on your employer’s specific on-call policies.

    Receiving Compensation for Work-Related Injuries

    If you believe your injury qualifies you to receive workers’ compensation benefits, you must provide a notice of injury to your employer within 30 days. If you do not notify your employer within this time frame, your claim may be denied even if your injury would otherwise have been compensated.

    Types of benefits you may be able to receive include:

    If you’re having difficulty obtaining benefits on your workers' compensation claim, seeking legal representation can ensure that your case proceeds in a timely fashion. Rechtman & Spevak’s attorneys have extensive experience helping injured Georgia workers receive the compensation they need to move forward with their lives. Call today to schedule a free, no-obligation initial consultation.