In Georgia, employees injured in the workplace or in the scope of their regular employment duties may be entitled to receive benefits through the state's workers' compensation system.
An accident insurance program paid for by employers, workers' compensation can provide injured employees with medical, rehabilitation, and income benefits to help them get back on their feet and return to work.
How long these benefits last depend on the type of injury, its severity, and when it was sustained.
If you were injured in a workplace accident in Georgia and your claim was accepted by your employer's workers' compensation insurer, here's what you need to know about the progression of your case and benefits.
Medical Benefits During Ongoing Workers' Comp Cases
After an on-the-job accident, employees may face significant injuries and require extensive medical treatment. Workers' compensation covers all authorized medical expenses related to a workplace accident including:
- Doctor visits
- Hospital stays
- Physical and occupational therapy
- Medical-related travel expenses
Under Georgia law, employees injured in accidents prior to June 30, 2013 are entitled to lifetime benefits for workplace injuries; whereas employees injured in accidents that occurred after that date are limited to medical benefits for a maximum of 400 weeks. However, claims that are deemed to be catastrophic (discussed below), are not subject to the 400 week cap.
Temporary Disability Income Benefits
Employees who are disabled from work for more than seven days are entitled to weekly temporary total disability (TTD) benefits. These benefits are required to be mailed to workers' compensation claimants within 21 days of the first day that they missed work due to their job-related injury. Employees who are out of work more than 21 days are also entitled to the seven day waiting period.
The amount that an injured worker is entitled to receive in TTD benefits is equal to two-thirds of their average weekly gross pay. This amount is calculated by taking the average of what the employee earned over the 13 week period immediately preceding their accident. If the employee did not work for the employer during the entire 13 week period, there are alternative methods for determining their average weekly wage. For injuries that occurred on or after July 1, 2016, weekly TTD benefits are capped at a maximum of $575 per week. Claimants hurt on or after July 1, 1992 can potentially receive TTD benefits for up to 400 weeks.
In cases where employees are able to return to work, but are earning less income due to their injuries, they may be entitled to receive temporary partial disability (TPD) benefits in an amount equal to two-thirds of the difference between their average weekly wage and the amount they are actually earning while performing light duty—of no more than $383 per week—for up to 350 weeks.
Lifetime Benefits for Catastrophic Injuries
While medical and income benefits are limited to 400 weeks for most workers' compensation claims, those with catastrophic injuries may be entitled to these benefits for life. Examples of catastrophic injuries that may qualify an injured worker for lifetime benefits include:
- Limb loss and amputations
- Severe burns
- Serious head injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
If you have suffered any of these devastating injuries in a workplace accident, you may be entitled to lifetime workers' compensation benefits—but you will likely have to fight for them. Most employers and their insurance companies will not voluntarily agree to designating your case as catastrophic. An experienced workers' compensation attorney can help pursue the compensation you deserve.
Consult an Attorney About Your Ongoing Workers' Compensation Case
As you can see, ongoing workers' comp cases can get complicated very quickly. Georgia's worker's compensation laws can be complex and confusing for people who have no previous experience with the system. We understand just how difficult it can be to make sense of it all.
At Rechtman & Spevak, our skilled workers' compensation attorneys can help you navigate the system in pursuit of the benefits to which you're entitled. We've helped numerous clients understand the changes that might occur to their workers' compensation benefits over time. If you have questions about your workers' compensation case, we can help.
Contact our law firm using the numbers on this page or complete the online contact form to request an appointment for a free initial consultation to discuss the details of your case with us.