Answers to Commonly Asked Questions About Workers’ Compensation
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What's my workers' comp claim worth?
The injuries sustained in on-the-job accidents can be painful both physically and financially. Injured workers may face unexpected debt while they are unable to work as they wait for their injuries to heal.
Fortunately, in Georgia, injured employees are eligible for workers' compensation benefits, which includes temporary disability payments and payment of related medical expenses.
Determining The Value Of A Claim
Workers' compensation settlements have to be agreed upon by the injured worker and the employer and their insurer. If all parties don't agree, then there is no settlement. The value of workers' compensation claims varies and depends on a number of factors, including:
- Severity of the injury
- Amount of the injured employee's weekly benefits
- How long the employee is expected to be disabled from working
- Past and estimated future medical costs
- Age of the injured worker
The more serious an injury, the more likely it is to require continuing medical treatment and significant future time off from work. The greater these anticipated costs, the more valuable the claim. As a result, workers with claims involving severe or catastrophic injuries tend to receive larger settlements than employees with relatively minor injuries.
Temporary Total Disability Benefits
Under Georgia's Workers' Compensation Law, injured employees are entitled to collect temporary total disability benefits equaling two-thirds of their average weekly pay (before taxes are deducted) each week for as long as their injuries prevent them from returning to work. The injured worker can receive these benefits for up to 400 weeks, or for the rest of their life if their claim has been deemed catastrophic. Again, the longer you and the insurer believe you will be entitled to continuing income benefits, the more the case will be worth in settlement.
An injured worker's average weekly wage is calculated based on the employee's pay for the previous 13 weeks. Individuals employed fewer than 13 weeks are compensated based on the average weekly wage of a similar employee who works in the same position for the employer as the injured worker. The maximum benefit rate is set by the Georgia legislature. Currently, the maximum benefit payable to injured workers in Georgia is $575 per week.
Consult an Experienced Workers' Compensation Lawyer
If you were injured on the job, you may have questions about the value of your case or the workers' compensation benefits to which you're entitled. The knowledgeable workers' compensation lawyers at Rechtman & Spevak have extensive experience helping injured workers. Our skilled legal team is happy to answer your questions and address your concerns to ensure you understand your rights, as well as all the options available to you.
Contact our Atlanta law office today to schedule an appointment for a free initial case consultation.
What's the process for filing a workers' compensation claim in Georgia?
Victims of workplace accidents often face medical bills they can't afford and time away from work that further strains financial resources. But workers injured during the regular scope of employment are usually eligible for benefits through the state workers' compensation system, such as medical benefits, rehabilitation support, and supplemental income.
Workers Compensation Process in Georgia
In Georgia, the process for filing a workers' compensation claim isn't difficult. However, employers and their workers' compensation insurance carriers don't always treat injured individuals or their claims fairly. Having an experienced workers' compensation attorney by their side can help job accident victims level the playing field and receive the benefits they deserve.
Complete a Form WC-14
The first step of the process is to file a completed Form WC-14 with the Georgia State Board of Workers' Compensation and send a copy to the employer and its workers' compensation insurance carrier. An attorney can file this claim electronically.
An injured worker and his or her attorney can request a hearing if the employer and its insurer fail to provide the appropriate benefits.
The Discovery Process
Then, both parties move through the discovery process, during which each side can request documents, and serve one another with written questions called interrogatories. The worker may be asked to provide a deposition, also known as an oral testimony, which typically takes place in the attorney's office.
In cases where there's a dispute regarding the injured workers' medical treatment, he or she may be asked complete an independent medical examination. This request may be issued by the insurer to get another opinion about the injuries, as well as the victim's attorney to bolster the case.
Ultimately, the case is heard before an administrative law judge. However, most workers' compensation cases are settled long before they reach a courtroom.
Speak To an Atlanta Workers' Compensation Attorney Today
If you were injured on the job, the knowledgeable Georgia workers' compensation attorneys with Rechtman & Spevak can help ensure you receive the benefits you need and deserve. To schedule a free consultation right away to discuss your legal options, use the convenient contact information below.
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
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.
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. Our skilled workers’ compensation attorneys 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 workers' compensation 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 does it cost to hire a workers' compensation lawyer in Georgia?
After a job-related accident, an individual may be seriously injured; temporarily—or even permanently—unable to work; and face an onslaught of unexpected medical debt. Fortunately, in Georgia, employees injured in workplace accidents or within the scope of their regular employment are often entitled to workers' compensation benefits.
Workers Compensation Program Overview
The workers' compensation system is an accident insurance program paid for by employers. The system's benefits cover authorized medical expenses, lost wages, and temporary disability payments for individuals injured on the job.
While workers' compensation claimants aren't required to prove negligence in order to collect benefits, this doesn't mean they don't need an attorney. Some workplace accident victims may be hesitant to hire a workers' compensation lawyer out of concern fees are beyond their financial means.
What Do Workers Comp Lawyers Charge?
Financial woes should never prevent a victim from fighting for the justice and the benefits they deserve.
That's why many workers' compensation attorneys operate on a contingency fee basis. This means they provide victims with legal services for little or no upfront costs, and instead take their fees out of the settlement the victim receives when their cases are resolved.
Advantage of Hiring A Workers Comp Attorney
In Georgia, workers' compensation attorneys are paid up to 25 percent of a successful settlement—this amount is regulated by state law. Though some accident victims may be tempted to handle their own cases in an effort to save money, it can actually end up costing them in the long run. Multiple studies show that injured workers represented by experienced workers' compensation attorneys tend to receive larger settlements than those who choose to represent themselves.
Consult a Knowledgeable Georgia Workers' Compensation Attorney
On-the-job accidents and injuries can threaten to cause a lot of upheaval in your life, but an experienced workers' compensation lawyer can help you understand your legal rights and options, look out for your interests, and maximize your claim.
To request a free consultation, contact Rechtman & Spevak today using the phone numbers on this page, or complete the brief online contact form.
Am I covered by Georgia workers' compensation if I'm injured while working remotely?
As the number of people working remotely rises, so does the number of people injured while doing so. Many employees in Georgia question whether the state's workers' comp system will provide benefits for a work injury that they sustained off-site.
Unfortunately, there's no easy answer to that question, as it depends heavily on the facts of your particular case. Here's what you need to know.
Remote workers are covered by Georgia's workers' compensation law. In fact, the same rules apply to employees regardless of whether they work in the office or at a remote location, which means that:
- The injury must occur during your work-related activities. If you sustained the injury while carrying out the duties of your job, it should be covered. However, if you were hurt while doing something unrelated to work, the injury likely won't qualify you for benefits, even if it happened during your scheduled work hours.
- The injury might not be covered if it happened on your lunch break. Injuries that occur during an employee's official or scheduled breaks aren't covered by Georgia workers' compensation.
- The injury might be covered if it occurred while entering or leaving the remote workplace. Also known as ingress and regress, employees in The Peach State are covered by workers' comp.
Those aren't the only issues you'll have to consider. Your job duties and the severity of your condition also play an important role in determining which workers' compensation benefits you could receive. For example, if your injuries restrict you to light-duty work, but the work you're performing remotely is already light-duty tasks, you may not be entitled to income benefits, as you'll be able to continue working.
Consult Our Skilled Georgia Workers' Comp Attorneys
The only real way to know whether the injuries you sustained while working remotely might be covered by workers' compensation is to consult a knowledgeable attorney. Fortunately, you've found the right firm. At Rechtman & Spevak, our adept workers' comp lawyers have helped countless Georgians obtain the benefits they deserve. Contact us today to schedule a free initial consultation with a member of our legal team.
If I refuse light duty work, can my employer say I voluntarily abandoned my job?
After a job-related injury, you may be entitled to workers' compensation benefits, including temporary total disability (TTD) payments if you're completely unable to work for a period of time. However, your employer and its workers' comp insurer will likely want you to return to work as soon as possible so that it can stop paying you these benefits.
To that end, your employer may offer a light duty position that allows you to work within the limitations set by the doctor who's treating your injuries.
Georgia law requires your employer to draft a written description of this new light duty job, and send it to your doctor for approval. Sometimes, even when a physician approves your return to light duty, you may not feel ready or able to go back to work. How you handle this situation can have a lasting impact on your ability to continue to collect TTD benefits.
Generally, it's best to at least attempt the offered light duty position. If you refuse to even try, your employer may fire you or claim you voluntarily abandoned your position, which could cause your TTD payments to stop. That's the last thing you want—which is why it's essential to contact an experienced Georgia workers' compensation attorney if you feel you're being sent back to work before you're physically ready.
A workers' comp lawyer can help you understand your rights, including how to get TTD benefits reinstated if you try the light duty position, but are unable to continue performing the job.
Consult a Skilled Georgia Attorney About Your Workers' Comp Claim
At Rechtman & Spevak, our accomplished attorneys help injured workers protect their rights and fight for the workers' compensation benefits they deserve. If you were offered light duty work, but don't feel you're capable of performing the job asked of you, contact us today to schedule a free initial consultation to discuss your legal rights and options, and how to avoid being terminated and having your income benefits stopped.
How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected workers' comp claims for warehouse workers in Georgia?
Not only have warehouse and distribution center workers been deemed essential by the state of Georgia under the COVID-19 stay-at-home order, but there is also a demand for more workers to staff these services. Warehouse and fulfillment center workers were overworked and suffering high rates of injury before the COVID-19 outbreak, so it’s likely they will struggle even more with debilitating injuries during the crisis. These workers are entitled to Georgia workers’ comp benefits if they are unable to work because of a workplace injury, but the process of applying has been complicated by closed offices and unprecedented circumstances.
Warehouse Workers Face Hazardous Conditions in Ordinary Times
As non-essential workers across Georgia are ordered to stay home during the pandemic, many are turning to delivery for the groceries and other goods they need. This has placed a heavy burden on online retailers such as Amazon and Walmart.
In order to stock their warehouses and fulfill orders, the companies have passed that burden on to workers. Amazon didn’t have a great safety record before the crisis, and workers often experienced serious back injuries, traumatic brain injury, sprains, strains, and repetitive stress injuries caused by:
- Falling objects
- Lifting and carrying heavy objects
- Stretching and twisting to reach objects
- Repetitive motions, such as loading boxes and stocking shelves
- Forklift accidents
Now that warehouse employees are working longer hours, filling more orders, taking on unfamiliar duties, and working with inexperienced new-hires, injuries are even more likely than they were before. However, just like before the pandemic, Georgia workers are entitled to file for workers’ comp benefits if they are unable to work due to an on-the-job injury.
Filing a New Claim for Georgia Workers’ Compensation
If you are injured at work in a warehouse, do not hesitate to pursue workers’ comp. New claims are being accepted, but the process may be more complicated than it was before. Regardless, you should first report the injury to your manager and then get medical treatment. You can see any doctor the first time if it is an emergency, but after that, you will need to see a doctor from your employer’s panel of physicians, if you can get an appointment. At this time, you may only be able to get a telephone consultation.
Even if you do get a consultation, you probably won’t be able to follow through on all of the treatment recommendations. You can and should still file a claim with Georgia’s State Board of Workers’ Compensation and send copies to your employer and their insurance company. It’s hard to say how quickly things will move after that. However, you can make sure you are doing all you can to get the compensation you deserve by talking to one of our workers’ compensation attorneys before filing a claim. In these uncertain times, it’s more important than ever to have an advocate on your side to protect your rights.
People Currently Collecting Workers’ Comp May Also Have Problems
If you are currently collecting Georgia workers’ comp, you will also face some challenges. You might not be able to get the treatment you need to recover from your injury, which will affect your recovery timeline. If your light-duty assignment was eliminated, you might now need income benefits. While all hearings have been postponed due to judicial order, some workers’ comp issues are still being resolved by judges via teleconference. Now is the time to consult our experienced legal team to find out what you should do to protect your benefits.
Call Us to Today for Honest Answers to Your Questions
As a warehouse worker, you probably never thought of yourself as an essential member of the community before. Now, however, thousands of people depend on you to get the supplies they need to comply with Governor Kemp’s order. We want you to know that the lawyers and staff at Rechtman & Spevak are available to help you with your legal matters. We are offering free virtual consultations via video conference in lieu of in-person meetings, and we are also accessible through e-mail, text, and phone. If you have a question about a new or existing workers’ comp claim, please reach out to us as soon as possible.
How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected Georgia workers’ comp claims for nurses and first responders?
Healthcare workers on the front lines have always risked their own health and safety to help the patients who need them. During the COVID-19 pandemic, however, nurses and first responders are at greater risk than they have ever been. Both of these groups of essential workers are at high risk for a workplace injury, but what options do they have if they can no longer work because of an injury? We take a look at the current status of Georgia workers’ compensation for healthcare workers on the front lines.
Filing a New Claim for Workers’ Compensation
First things first: if you are a nurse or first responder who was injured on the job, don’t be afraid to pursue a claim for workers’ compensation. New claims are being processed; however, you will face some challenges.
After reporting the injury to your employer, you need to get medical treatment. If it is an emergency, you can see any doctor but, otherwise, you will need to see a doctor from your employer’s panel of physicians. During the COVID-19 crisis, you might not be able to get an appointment with one of these doctors, or if you do, it may only be a telephone consultation. Even if you do get a consultation, you probably won’t be able to follow through on all of the treatment recommendations.
You can and should still file a claim with Georgia’s State Board of Workers’ Compensation and send copies to your employer and their insurance company. How quickly things move after that is anyone’s guess right now.
However, you can make sure you are doing all you can to get the compensation you deserve by talking to one of our workers’ compensation attorneys. Now more than ever, it’s important to have an advocate on your side to protect your rights.
What If You Have an Existing Claim?
If you are currently collecting workers’ comp, you will also face some challenges. You might not be able to get the treatment you need to recover from your injury, which will affect your recovery timeline. Your light-duty assignment may have been eliminated, and you now need income benefits. While all hearings have been postponed by judicial order, some workers’ comp issues are still still being resolved via teleconference with the judges. Now is the time to consult our experienced legal team to find out what you should do to protect your benefits.
What Risks do Nurses and First Responders Face During the Pandemic?
The work that nurses, EMTs, police officers, and firefighters do has always carried risk. These brave men and women willingly take those risks to serve the public. However, they are facing even greater dangers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Nurses. In ordinary times, many nurses experience repetitive stress injuries, slip and falls, exertion injuries, chronic back pain, needle pricks, and exposure to infectious disease. In the current crisis, hospitals are understaffed, and nurses are working longer hours and dealing with increased patient loads. Many nurses have been called to work outside of their normal areas of expertise at Emory Healthcare, Northside Hospital, or Piedmont Healthcare, and their inexperience puts them at risk. Exhaustion, exposure to the coronavirus, unprecedented death rates, and the lack of clear procedures have created an incredibly stressful environment for Atlanta nurses, increasing the likelihood of a serious injury or occupational disease.
- First responders. Typical causes of injury for first responders normally include violent attacks, vehicle accidents, exertion, exposure to toxins and infectious disease, and hazardous surroundings. As most of us are asked to stay home to stay safe, first responders are required to risk their lives responding to emergencies. EMTs working for companies such as Metro Atlanta Ambulance Service are at high risk for contracting the coronavirus as well as sustaining other serious injuries.
If you are an essential worker on the front lines of this crisis, we are here to help.
Call Rechtman & Spevak With Your Questions
We applaud the work our nurses and first responders are doing—you are our heroes during this uncertain time. We want you to know that the lawyers and staff at Rechtman & Spevak are available to help you with your legal matters. We are offering free virtual consultations via video conference in lieu of in-person meetings, and we are also accessible through e-mail, text, and phone. If you have a question about a new or existing workers’ comp claim, please reach out to us as soon as possible.
What happens in a free consultation for a workers' compensation case?
Workplace accidents happen every day in the Atlanta area and throughout Georgia, and injured employees are usually entitled to workers' compensation benefits. If you were seriously injured on the job, one of the wisest things you can do is contact an experienced workers' comp attorney who can help you understand your legal rights and options—and the sooner you consult an attorney, the better.
Fortunately, most (if not all) workers' compensation attorneys in the Peach State offer free initial consultations, which can be conducted in person at their law offices, at your home or other convenient location, through an online video conference, or over the phone.
During an initial consult, an attorney will ask you a number of questions about your work history, similar past injuries, wages, and how the on-the-job accident occurred, including details such as time and place, general work conditions, when you notified your employer of the injury and who you reported it to, and what medical treatment you've received thus far—all with the goal of identifying the potential strengths and weaknesses of your case.
It's important to provide the attorney with as much information as you can, including:
- Medical records
- Pay stubs
- Written accident reports
- A list of your medical providers and their contact information
- Names and contact information for anyone who witnessed the accident
- Contact information for your employer and its workers' comp insurer
- Any correspondence that you have received from your employer's insurance company
While this information and documentation can be extremely helpful, there's no need to worry if you don't have it—an attorney can still help you.
In addition to reviewing your case and discussing your legal rights and options, the attorney should also explain the firm's contingency fee agreements. Attorneys who work on a contingency basis take their fee out of the compensation they recover for you, rather than charging you upfront. This ensures that even workers of modest financial means have access to quality legal representation. Any attorney you hire on a Georgia workers' compensation case can only charge you 25% of what they recover for you.
You'll also have the opportunity to ask the attorney questions about their knowledge, experience, and past cases to help determine whether they're a good fit for your workers' comp case.
Request Your Free Initial Consultation Today
The idea of talking with an attorney can be daunting but, if you're sweating your initial consultation, don't. We're here to help. Contact Rechtman & Spevak today to schedule an appointment for a complimentary consult.
What workers' compensation benefits am I entitled to if my workplace injury resulted in total blindness?
If your Georgia workplace injury resulted in total blindness, you may be entitled to more than the standard workers' compensation benefits. Here's what you need to know about on-the-job eye injuries and vision loss, and how our adept attorneys can help you fight for the maximum workers' comp benefits you deserve.
Workplace eye injuries are a lot more common than most people realize. In fact, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 20,000 eye injuries happen on the job each year, many of which require the injured worker to take one or more days off to recover.
Common causes of workplace eye injuries include:
- Sparks or burns
- Flying or falling objects
- Swinging objects, such as ropes or tools
- Chemical exposure
- Dust particles
- Small bits of metal, glass, or other debris
- Radiation exposure
Research shows that 10-to-20 percent of work-related eye injuries lead to blindness. Any serious on-the-job eye injury may entitle you to workers' comp benefits like medical treatment, temporary disability payments, and vocational rehabilitation. However, total blindness is recognized by the State of Georgia as a catastrophic workplace injury and, as a result, you may qualify for additional benefits.
For example, although total disability payments are capped at 400 weeks for most injured workers, individuals with catastrophic injuries such as total blindness can collect these benefits indefinitely—unless they're able to return to work.
If you lost your vision due to a workplace injury, you need a knowledgeable workers' compensation attorney to protect your rights and ensure you receive the appropriate benefits.
Let Our Skilled Georgia Attorneys Handle Your Workers' Comp Claim
Total blindness can turn your entire world upside down. If you suffered an on-the-job eye injury that led to a complete loss of vision, the experienced workers' compensation attorneys with Rechtman & Spevak can help. Contact us today to schedule an appointment for a complimentary initial consultation. Don't wait: the time to file a claim is limited.