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.
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.
Will workers' compensation benefits cover alternative medicine?
After being hurt on the job, Georgia workers may be entitled to workers' compensation benefits, including medical treatment for the injuries they sustained. Unfortunately, not all types of treatment are covered. The state's workers' compensation law limits coverage to medical treatments that are considered “reasonable and necessary.”
While what constitutes “reasonable and necessary” medical care is debatable, it's generally thought to mean treatment that meets the accepted standard of care for your injury or condition. Emergency room visits, doctors' appointments, basic diagnostic tests, some physical therapy, and prescription pain medication are just a few examples of the types of treatment commonly covered by workers' compensation.
While evidence-based Western medicine is often acceptable, getting coverage for alternative treatments like chiropractic care, acupuncture or acupressure, massage, homeopathy, and biofeedback can be much more difficult. Insurers are often reluctant to pay for even valid treatments, but they're especially resistant to footing the bill for treatments they don't believe are effective.
However, that doesn't necessarily mean that all alternative treatments are out of the question—but it does mean you need high-quality and aggressive legal representation. An experienced Georgia workers' compensation attorney may be able to prove that the desired treatment is, in fact, reasonable and necessary. And if the alternative treatment isn't approved by the insurance company, you can opt to undergo it and pay for it yourself.
Georgia workers' compensation may be a no-fault insurance system, but that doesn't mean you'll receive the maximum benefits to which you're entitled without a fight. Your employer and its insurer want to cut costs—and if you don't have strong legal representation, they may do so at your expense. After a workplace injury, the sooner you involve an attorney in your case, the better.
Consult an Experienced Workers' Compensation Attorney
At Rechtman & Spevak, our skilled attorneys help injured Georgia workers collect the benefits they deserve. Find out how we can help you. Contact us today to schedule an appointment for a free, initial case review.
Are pain and suffering damages included in Georgia workers' compensation benefits?
Unfortunately, no. Although workers' compensation offers a number of benefits for individuals injured while fulfilling the duties of their employment, compensation for pain and suffering damages isn't among them.
This is because, like most states, Georgia's workers' compensation system only provides benefits related to an injured employee's economic losses.
These benefits include:
- Medical treatment. If you were hurt on the job, your employer's workers' comp insurer should pay for all authorized medical treatment related to your workplace injury, including appointments with doctors or specialists, hospital stays, surgical procedures, prescriptions, physical therapy, and medically-necessary travel expenses.
- Wage replacement payments. If you're unable to work for more than seven days due to your injury, you may be entitled to weekly income benefits of two-thirds of your average weekly wage up to a maximum of $675 per week (as of 2019). If you were out of work longer than 21 consecutive days, you'll also be paid for the first week you were absent. Depending on the circumstances of your injury, these benefits may continue for up to 400 weeks. Additionally, if you return to work and are forced to take a lower-paying position, you may be eligible for reduced-income benefits that last for up to 350 weeks.
- Vocational training. If your injury prevents you from performing the job you used to do, workers' compensation can help you find another position in your field, or provide vocational training so you can learn to do a job in a different industry.
- Death benefits. If you die as a result of a workplace injury, your surviving spouse, children, or dependent stepchildren are entitled to death benefits of two-thirds of your average weekly wage—up to $675 as of 2019—per week.
In most cases, if you were injured on the job in Georgia, workers' compensation is your sole legal remedy. However, if your work-related injury was caused by an employee from another company, you may have grounds for a third-party personal injury lawsuit. In addition to economic damages, personal injury lawsuits also allow you to pursue compensation for non-economic losses like pain and suffering.
Consult an Experienced Georgia Attorney
Want to learn more about your rights after a workplace injury? Contact Rechtman & Spevak today to schedule an appointment for a free initial consultation.
Can I get workers' comp benefits if I was injured while working a seasonal temp job for Amazon?
Yes. Georgia law requires companies with three or more employees to carry workers' compensation insurance. Not only does this insurance protect employees regardless of whether they work full-time, part-time, or seasonally, but also provides coverage for workplace injuries even if the employee is hurt on their first day on the job.
This is excellent news for the nearly 100,000 seasonal employees online retail giant Amazon adds to its workforce during the winter holiday months.
Workers at Amazon fulfillment centers like those in the Atlanta area may be exposed to hazardous conditions such as dangerous noise levels, unsafe machinery, electrical hazards, repetitive stress risks, and a lack of personal protective equipment. This puts workers at risk for serious injuries, including:
- Ergonomic stress injuries
- Eye injuries
- Hearing damage or loss
- Knee injuries
- Broken bones
- Cardiac issues
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs)
Sadly, Amazon's seasonal workers are particularly at risk—both for the threat of injury and difficulty obtaining the workers' compensation benefits they deserve.
If you were hurt while working a temporary seasonal job for Amazon, you're likely entitled to workers' compensation benefits for medical expenses, rehabilitation, and income. These benefits are intended to help you heal from your injuries and rejoin the workforce as soon as possible. However, because obtaining benefits can be both complicated and challenging, it helps to have an experienced workers' compensation attorney by your side who can help you understand your legal rights and options.
Hurt While Working a Seasonal Amazon Job? We Can Help.
The knowledgeable workers' compensation attorneys with Rechtman & Spevak can help you recover the benefits you need and deserve after an Amazon workplace injury. Contact us today to schedule an appointment for a complimentary, no-obligation initial consultation. Don't wait—the sooner you involve us in your case, the more quickly we can get to work advocating on your behalf.
What penalties can an employer face for not having workers' comp insurance?
The state requires employers with three or more employees to carry workers' compensation insurance or complete an application process to become self-insured.
Employers who fail to do so may be subject to civil or criminal penalties, as well as liability for workplace accidents and injuries that would have otherwise been covered by a workers' compensation insurance policy.
Here's a quick overview of the potential penalties employers can face.
- Criminal penalties. Failing to maintain workers' compensation insurance coverage is a misdemeanor crime that, upon conviction, can result in a fine up to $10,000, one year of imprisonment—or both.
- Civil penalties. Employers who refuse to comply with regulations that require them to carry workers' compensation insurance may face fines of up to $5,000 for each violation.
- Civil liability. If an employee is injured in the workplace and the employer doesn't have workers' compensation insurance, an employer may be personally liable for compensating the employee for injuries and losses.
Obtaining compensation from an employer who failed to carry workers' compensation insurance can be challenging and often requires the representation of an experienced attorney who can file a request for hearing before a workers' compensation judge to seek the damages you deserve.
Hurt on the Job? Consult an Experienced Workers' Compensation Attorney About Your Case
The knowledgeable attorneys with Rechtman & Spevak can help you make sense of your legal rights and options when an employer fails to carry the workers' compensation coverage the law requires. Contact us today to schedule an appointment for a free, initial consultation.