Posted on September 15, 2017
If you’ve been injured at work, your employer most likely carries workers’ compensation. It’s required by law that any Georgia employer with three or more regular employees (including seasonal, full-time, or part-time) must carry workers’ compensation. So a common question most people have after being hurt at work is, do I need an attorney? The answer is yes.
Even though you are entitled to workers’ compensation in the state of Georgia, some employers will try to find ways to avoid paying out the claim and insurance companies are notorious for paying less than your injury is worth.
An experienced lawyer can help you navigate the claims process and make sure you get the settlement you are owed.
What is Georgia Workers’ Compensation?
Workers’ Compensation is defined as a set of laws to protect people injured at work with benefits in the form of monetary rewards to help avoid litigation/lawsuits. The benefits also apply to dependents of workers who are killed in work accidents. Your Georgia workers’ compensation provides you with medical benefits, lost wages if you can’t work for at least seven days, and vocational rehabilitation benefits. It can also provide compensation for your family if your work-related injury causes your death.
If you’ve experienced any of the below injuries at work, you are entitled to workers’ compensation:
- Falling Objects
- Machinery Injuries
- Repetitive Motion Injuries
- Industrial Accidents
- Vehicle Accidents
- Slip and Fall Accidents
How an Attorney Can Help With Your Workers’ Compensation Claim
Most individuals have difficulty navigating workers’ compensation policies and insurance companies, especially when they are dealing with an injury from an incident at their job. Workers’ compensation attorneys in Georgia can fight for you and your rights.
Some of the most common scenarios injured workers run into with their employers include the following:
The insurance company attempts to limit benefits owed to the injured worker: This is very common, as insurance companies do not want to pay you the highest amount of benefits owed. They will try a variety of tactics to reduce your benefits, including attempting to offer you a much smaller amount early on in the settlement process, refusing physician referrals, and asking you to sign a medical release (among many other strategies).
Employers denying “controverting” claims: Employers will sometimes look for a variety of reasons to deny a claim, despite the fact that you are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. A workers’ compensation lawyer can defend your rights if your claim is denied.
Employees feeling pressured to return to work too soon after their injury: Similar to the above, employers might try to pressure you to return to work too soon, even indicating that you might lose your job if you don’t return to work within a specific timeframe. This is illegal and an attorney can fight on your behalf.
Employers attempting to fire the injured worker: In some cases, an employer might actually fire you after being injured at work. Unfortunately Georgia does not have an “anti-retaliation” statute. If this were to happen, you may still owed weekly workers’ compensation benefits.
Employees unable to perform their job as a result of injury: Under OCGA § 34-9-220, you are entitled to weekly wage benefits if you cannot work for at least seven days as a result of your work-related injury. In Georgia, weekly workers’ compensation benefits are calculated as two-thirds of your average weekly salary, which is calculated based upon all the wages you received (including overtime, bonuses, and any other benefits) in the 13 weeks prior to your work-related injury, subject to certain maximums.
Employees with pre-existing conditions: Unfortunately, if you are injured at work and already had a pre-existing condition, the insurance company will often attempt to use your condition as a reason not to pay you the benefits owed. An attorney can help you receive your benefits regardless of a pre-existing condition(s) if your injury is a direct result of your work.
An attorney who specializes in workers’ compensation claims can help you navigate each of the above situations when filing your workers’ compensation claim. However, not all workers’ comp lawyers in Georgia are the same. Beth Gearhart’s expertise puts her levels above any other Georgia workers’ comp attorney, making the claims and settlement process as simple as possible for you and your family.
Things To Keep In Mind When Hiring An Attorney
When you hire an attorney for your workers’ compensation case, the below can be helpful to keep in mind:
- It’s important to have realistic expectations. While workers’ comp cases can result in a variety of benefits including monetary reimbursement, most cases are not awarded millions of dollars.
- An attorney cannot predict after one meeting how much you will be owed in your claim. Be wary of attorneys who promise you large sums.
- Always disclose prior injuries to your attorney. This only helps us in defending your case.
- Hire an attorney you can trust. The more you trust your attorney, the easier it will be to communicate with them, which will only help the settlement process.
What Does An Attorney Cost?
At Gearhart Law Group, there are no upfront fees. We work on a contingency basis, which means you only pay a percentage of your total settlement and you do not pay before your case is settled. In the state of Georgia, the settlement rate cannot exceed 25%.
Can I Represent Myself?
If your injury is minor, you might be able to file the claim successfully on your own. That being said, even simple claims can be denied. And as mentioned above, insurance companies are not there to help you – they will often try to give you fewer benefits than what you deserve. This is why it’s always a good idea to hire a workers’ comp attorney who understands exactly what you are owed.
Have You Been Injured on the Job?
If you have been injured at work, you need to speak to a qualified attorney who understands the specific workers’ compensation laws in your state.
Our qualified team of workers’ comp lawyers will sit with you for a free consultation to review the specifics of your case. Only after they have a complete understanding can they ensure that you are receiving the fullest protection of the law.