If you have suffered an injury at work, the first thing you should do is seek medical care. Seeking prompt treatment offers you the best chance at a complete and timely physical recovery. Additionally, it is very difficult to obtain the workers’ compensation benefits you may deserve if you have not seen a medical professional. It may seem to those in charge that you are not truly injured if you have not sought treatment for an injury. You can choose to visit an emergency room if your injuries are severe, or you can schedule an appointment at a clinic or doctor’s office.
While this may sound easy, sometimes there are roadblocks to obtaining the care you need after a workplace injury. In some cases, an employer may prevent an employee from seeking needed care. So what is an injured worker to do?
Your Employer Is Required to Allow You to Seek Care
Georgia law requires most businesses with three or more employees to carry workers’ compensation coverage. Exceptions to this rule include railroad carriers, U.S. Government agencies, farm laborers, and domestic servants. When a work accident occurs, the employee should notify the employer of the injury as soon as possible. Once you have made your injury known, it is incumbent upon your employer to offer certain information mandated by Georgia law, including:
- Information about the state workers’ compensation program.
- A traditional panel of physicians, which is a list of six or more recommended physicians from whom the employee can seek care.
- The name and phone number of the Workers’ Compensation Managed Care Organization (WC/MCO) with which your employer has contracted to provide medical services.
If your employer does not offer this information when you report your injury, ask for it. Be persistent and continue to request what you need. If possible, document your requests. It can be helpful to make written or email appeals so you can prove later, if necessary, that your employer ignored your injury.
My Employer Is Not Cooperating With Me Seeking Treatment
In some cases, employers do not follow these required steps. Sometimes your supervisor will ignore your phone calls or make excuses for the delay in response. If this is the case, you do have some options, including:
- Seek your own medical care. If possible, go ahead and get medical attention for your injury. This protects both your health and the validity of your claim. The workers’ compensation board may not find your employer responsible if it you are unable to provide documentation of your injury. The opinion of a medical professional validates your injury and allows you to recover.
- File a claim with the state board of workers’ compensation. If your company is giving you the "run-around," you can bypass your employer and file your claim directly with the state board. However, this can be complicated if you are handling the matter yourself without an attorney.
- Call an experienced workers’ compensation attorney. If your employer is refusing to help provide you with medical care, it may be necessary to pursue action against the company. In some cases, just the presence of an experienced attorney can underscore the seriousness of your injury claim. A skilled attorney understands the complex workers’ compensation system and can help you prepare and file a claim that will help you achieve the best outcome possible.
If You Suspect Your Employer Does Not Have Workers’ Compensation Insurance
One reason an employer may block your attempts to seek medical care after a workplace injury is a lack of workers’ compensation insurance. Though employers are required by law to carry this insurance, there have been many cases where businesses have neglected this duty. The Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation website does have a feature to verify coverage.
The penalties in Georgia can be severe if an employer fails to provide workers’ compensation coverage to eligible employees. Employers can be found guilty of a misdemeanor and face expensive civil penalties and even jail time. An enforcement division monitors compliance; it can be contacted at (404) 657-7285.
For employees of those businesses who do not have workers’ compensation, options are still available. An experienced workers’ compensation attorney can often help injured employees secure the medical care and compensation they need after an accident even if the employer is uninsured.
If you or someone you love has suffered a workplace injury, you have a right to appropriate medical care. When an employer prevents you from getting the treatment you need, that company can be held accountable. The experienced lawyers at Rechtman & Spevak may be able to help you obtain the workers’ compensation benefits you need and deserve. Call our Atlanta office today to learn more about your rights and schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.