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.
Are temporary employees eligible for workers' compensation benefits in Georgia?
Usually. Workers' compensation is a no-fault insurance system that provides medical treatment and wage replacement benefits to workers who were injured on the job.
Georgia law requires most employers to carry workers' compensation insurance for their employees, and doesn't distinguish between traditionally-hired workers and those hired on a temporary or seasonal basis.
Contrary to popular belief, temporary and seasonal workers are often eligible for workers' compensation benefits.
However, where they should submit their claims depends on whether they were hired by a staffing agency or by the company directly.
Temporary workers assigned through a staffing agency are considered employees of the agency, rather than employees of the business where they work. As a result, they should report their injuries to their supervisor at the staffing agency to start a workers' compensation claim.
The claims process is slightly different for seasonal workers the company hires directly. When they're injured in an on-the-job accident, they can report claims to their supervisors to jump-start the process and receive prompt medical attention.
Other temporary and seasonal workers who may not qualify for workers' compensation benefits include independent contractors and migrant farm workers. However, because workers are often misclassified, it's important to speak with an experienced attorney if you think you might actually be eligible for benefits.
Hurt on the job? You might be eligible for compensation for reasonable and necessary medical treatment, including ambulance transportation, emergency care, hospitalizations, surgical procedures, medication, and more. Additionally, if you've missed work while recovering from your injuries, you may be able to collect compensation for lost wages.
Help for Your Georgia Workers' Comp Case
Are you a temporary or seasonal employee who was injured in a workplace accident? Not sure if you're eligible to collect workers' compensation benefits? The skilled workers' compensation attorneys with Rechtman & Spevak will review your claim, and outline your legal rights and options. Contact us today to schedule a free initial case consultation.
How long do I have to file a workers' compensation claim in Georgia?
If you were hurt on the job in Georgia, the time you have to file a workers' compensation claim is limited—and if you wait too long, you could be barred from receiving the benefits you otherwise may have deserved.
Don't let this happen to you. Act quickly to protect your right to recovery.
Georgia law requires injured workers to notify their employer of an injury within 30 days.
However, it's best to report your injury as soon as possible.
How long you have to file a claim is determined by the state's statute of limitation laws. In most cases, you have just one year from the date the injury was discovered to file a claim for workers' compensation wage benefits. There are some notable exceptions. For example:
- If you're receiving medical treatment provided by your employer's workers' comp insurer, you have until one year following your last employer provided medical appointment to file your claim.
- If you have received weekly temporary total disability (TTD) or temporary partial disability (TPD) benefits, you have two years from the date your benefits stop to file a claim for a resumption of your income benefits if you have experienced a change in condition for the worse.
- Once you are no longer receiving TTD or TPD, you have four years following the last payment to file a claim for permanent partial disability (PPD) benefits.
Filing your claim means that you will need to complete a Board Form WC-14 and file it with the State Board of Workers' Compensation. You should send copies of this form to all of the parties in the claim, including your employer and their workers' compensation insurer.
Request a Free Initial Consultation
After sustaining a workplace injury, it pays to speak to an experienced Georgia workers' compensation attorney as soon as possible. At Rechtman & Spevak, our attorneys have helped countless injured workers obtain the benefits they deserve.
Have questions about your case? We'll help you understand your legal rights and options. Contact us today to schedule an appointment for a no-cost, no-obligation consultation.
What do I need to know about returning to work with restrictions?
After an on-the-job accident, workers in Georgia may be entitled to collect temporary total disability (TTD) workers' compensation benefits while recovering from their injuries.
These benefits are designed to help injured workers get back on their feet, back to work and, as the name suggests, they don't last forever.
If your treating physician releases you to return to work with restrictions, your employer may offer you light duty work, and be able to stop paying you TTD benefits.
Common restrictions and limitations can include:
- Limited hours
- Physical restrictions against heavy lifting or repetitive motion activities
- Light duty work only
- Prescribed breaks to get up and move around
- Required use of supportive equipment, such as an ergonomic keyboard or back support
If your doctor recently approved a light duty job for you to return to work with restrictions, keep the following in mind:
- Returning to work can be a positive development. You get a paycheck and back into the swing of things while your employer regains a valued worker. Win-win.
- It's unwise to simply refuse. Under Georgia law, if your employer comes up with a light duty job, and your doctor approves it as being suitable to your restrictions, AND the insurer gives you 10 days written notice of the job offer, your failure to attempt the job will jeopardize your ability to collect further workers' compensation benefits.
- TTD benefits may restart if you're not up to the task. If you try to return to work for at least 8 hours or one work shift (whichever is longer), but no more than 15 scheduled work days, and are unable to continue performing the job, you will be entitled to a resumption of your TTD benefits.
Consult an Experienced Workers' Compensation Attorney
Deciding whether to return to work after an on-the-job injury can be one of the most challenging aspects of the workers' compensation process—especially when restrictions and limitations are involved. If you have questions about your Georgia workers' compensation case, call Rechtman & Spevak today to schedule an appointment for a free initial consultation.
Can I get workers' compensation benefits for an amputation injury?
Yes. Because the loss of a limb is one of the most catastrophic injuries someone can suffer in the workplace. Amputation of an arm, hand, foot, leg, or other body part may not be life threatening, but it's often life changing.
While amputation injuries can happen to workers in a wide range of industries, those in manufacturing and construction—as well as those in which employees routinely operate heavy machinery—are most at risk.
Though severed limbs can sometimes be successfully reattached, and prosthetics can help victims regain some use of a lost limb, people are still likely to experience limited mobility. This impacts their ability to hold a job or complete other daily tasks.
The ongoing costs of treating an amputation injury can quickly mount, especially when the limb loss prevents someone from returning to work. Fortunately, in Georgia, workers who've lost limbs while completing job-related duties are often entitled to workers' compensation benefits, such as:
- Coverage of past and future medical expenses related to the amputation
- Ongoing disability payments up to two-thirds of their average weekly wage
- Prosthetics and other necessary assistive equipment
- Vocational therapy
Georgia categorizes the loss of major limbs as catastrophic by law: which means that workers who suffer such injuries will be eligible to collect workers' compensation medical and income benefits indefinitely.
Let Us Help You Obtain the Workers' Compensation Benefits You Deserve
Navigating Georgia's complex workers' compensation system in pursuit of the benefits you deserve can be both frustrating and confusing.
At Rechtman & Spevak, our skilled attorneys know the system—and its pitfalls—inside and out. Let us put our knowledge and experience to work for you. Do you have questions about your workers' compensation amputation case? Contact us today to schedule an appointment for a no-cost, no-obligation initial consultation.
Will my workers' compensation settlement or financial award cover counseling for pain?
In Georgia, people injured on the job or while performing duties within the course and scope of their employment are often eligible for benefits through the state's workers' compensation system.
These benefits can include lost wage and temporary disability payments if the injury keeps the employee out of work for seven or more days, as well as coverage of reasonable and necessary medical treatments.
People hurt in the workplace often suffer from chronic pain as a result of their injuries. The National Institutes of Health defines pain as chronic if it lasts for more than 12 weeks. Depending on the severity of the injuries, this pain may be nagging, persistent, excruciating, debilitating, or even disabling. Though medications and surgeries are considered front-line treatments for chronic pain, more doctors recommend cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) counseling programs to help patients cope.
However, even though research suggests that CBT may be more effective than opioids for relieving chronic pain—and without carrying the dangerous potential for addiction—some workers' compensation insurers may be reluctant to cover the treatment. Fortunately, an experienced workers' compensation attorney can help you fight for the care you need.
Our Skilled Workers' Comp Attorneys Can Help
If you're living with chronic pain caused by an injury you sustained at work, you may be entitled to workers' compensation benefits, including coverage of necessary medical treatments to help you manage the pain more effectively.
The seasoned workers' comp attorneys with Rechtman & Spevak understand that a serious on-the-job injury can be devastating to an employee and his or her family. We're here to help.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss the details of your case with a knowledgeable member of our legal team. We'll walk you through the workers' compensation claims process, and help you better understand your legal rights and options. Don't wait—the time to file your claim is limited.
What are the pros and cons of accepting a workers' compensation settlement?
If you were hurt on the job or while performing duties within the course and scope of your employment, you may be eligible for workers' compensation benefits, including coverage for reasonable medical expenses and lost wages.
Once you've filed a Georgia workers' compensation claim, you may be faced with the decision of whether to accept a settlement or to take your chances in court.
Before making your decision, consider the most important pros and cons of accepting a workers' compensation settlement:
- PRO: an end to litigation. Litigating a workers' compensation claim in court can be lengthy, expensive, and emotionally grueling. Accepting a settlement allows you to bypass the uncertain trial process and collect a lump sum of money.
- CON: you may get less than you deserve. Insurance companies and their attorneys know just how frustrating litigating a workers' compensation claim can be, which is why they may offer an unfairly low settlement amount with the hope you'll be tempted to take it.
An experienced Georgia workers' compensation attorney can help you determine whether accepting a settlement is in your best interest.
Our Legal Experts Will Help You Make the Right Decision
While a lump sum may mean having access to more money more quickly, it may not be sufficient to meet your needs if you're suffering from a long-term injury or illness. Additionally, accepting a lump sum settlement can also be problematic if you haven't yet reached maximum medical improvement, as it is sometimes difficult to estimate the amount needed for future medical expenses.
Do you have questions about a settling a Georgia workers' compensation case? Contact Rechtman & Spevak today to schedule an appointment for a free initial consultation to discuss the details of your case with a member of our knowledgeable legal team.