Workers' Comp FAQs
If you’ve suffered a work-related injury in Georgia, your employer is responsible for the cost of your injuries. After your work-related injury, you may not know what you should do and what steps to take to receive the benefits you deserve.
The Georgia workers’ compensation lawyers at Gearhart Law Group can guide you through this complex process. The answers to some of the most common questions clients ask about workers’ compensation are below:
The Workers’ Compensation system in the state of Georgia was created to help benefit workers who are injured on the job or while they are performing job-related duties on behalf of their employer. The primary goal of workers’ compensation is to help injured workers quickly recover from their injuries and return to the workplace. The workers’ compensation system is designed to benefit both employers and their employees.
One important fact to keep in mind regarding workers’ compensation cases in Georgia is that workers’ compensation is a “no-fault” system. Under this “no-fault” system, an injured worker does not have to prove that their employer was at fault in any way for their injury. Overall, despite being an exclusive remedy, the workers’ compensation system is quite effective and Georgia employees, more often than not, stand to benefit from the way that this system operates.
In fact, in many cases, an injured worker is still eligible for workers’ compensation benefits even if they are at fault to some extent for their injury. For example, a Georgia employee who is injured while slipping and falling from a ladder can still be eligible for benefits—even if there was nothing wrong with the work ladder.
The drawback to the Georgia workers’ compensation system being an exclusive remedy for work injuries is that you cannot bring a case in the civil court system for your work injury unless certain unique circumstances apply. One of the significant differences between the workers’ compensation system and personal injury cases brought in the Georgia civil court system is that compensation for pain and suffering is not included in workers’ compensation cases.
It is crucial to note that injured workers cannot opt-out of this exclusive remedy provision and cannot waive their right to file their case in the workers’ compensation system to attempt to file their work injury case in civil court. If you have questions about your legal options for your work-related injury or illness, Gearhart Law Group can help.
Georgia law requires all employers to carry workers’ compensation insurance if they regularly employ three or more people in their business. This law also applies to companies that are incorporated or are LLCs. The officers or members of the company are considered included in the employee count.
If you are concerned that your employer does not have workers’ compensation insurance coverage, you can look up this information on the Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation official website. However, in the event that you do discover that your employer does not have the required workers’ compensation insurance coverage, it does not mean that you are out of luck when it comes to workers’ compensation benefits.
Since the law requires your employer to have workers’ compensation insurance, its failure to maintain coverage is not a defense to any claim you (or other injured employees) may bring forth for workers’ compensation benefits. In fact, your employer may be subject to substantial penalties, fines, and even criminal prosecution for the lack of workers’ compensation insurance coverage.
If you find out that your employer is not insured after you have suffered a work injury or illness, you are still entitled to file your workers’ compensation claim for benefits. Your employer will be obligated to pay for any benefits that you are due.
Keep in mind that just because your employer did not carry workers’ compensation insurance that would cover your work injury, that does not mean that you can file a case in civil court for your injuries. The exclusive remedy provision still applies, and your claim must still proceed through the Georgia workers’ compensation system. Since these types of cases can become particularly complex, it is always a good idea to reach out to a Georgia workers’ compensation attorney with experience handling these types of cases.
Some Georgia employers choose to become self-insured for workers’ compensation, which is allowed under the law. Self-insured Georgia employers are not considered uninsured—this is a different way for employers to insure and pay for valid workers’ compensation claims.
To become self-insured for workers’ compensation, a Georgia employer must be approved as a member of the Georgia Self-Insurers Guaranty Trust Fund. An employer seeking to be self-insured must also be certified by the Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation and satisfy specific requirements.
If an employer is approved to be self-insured for this purpose, the employer must post security by either an approved bond or a letter-of-credit in an amount that has been set by the Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation. The amount in question set by the Board can be no less than $250,000.
The Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation provides various benefits to eligible employees injured in work accidents. The workers’ compensation benefits that are available to injured workers in Georgia depend on a few different factors. These factors include:
- Whether the injured worker needs to take time off of work to recover from their injury or illness; and if so, the length of time necessary;
- The medical bills and treatment needed for the injured worker to recover from their injury or illness, and whether future medical treatment is anticipated;
- The nature and extent of the injury or illness suffered by the injured employee, including whether there is a permanent or lasting disability;
- Whether or not the injured worker is able to return to work in their former capacity or requires permanent work restrictions.
An experienced Georgia workers’ compensation attorney can help ensure that you receive the benefits that you deserve. At Gearhart Law Group, we know what it takes to fight for our clients’ needs. Over the years, we have successfully helped numerous clients obtain positive results in their workers’ compensation cases. Contact our office today to learn more about how we can help you get fair compensation for your work injuries.
The Georgia Division of Workers’ Compensation is responsible for ensuring that any work injury claims are handled in accordance with state workers’ compensation laws. With nearly four million workers and a quarter of a million employers in the state, the importance of an effective system for handling workers’ compensation claims is clear.
While every state has its own rules regarding the process of handling workers’ compensation claims—as an employee of a Georgia employer, it is imperative that you learn about your legal rights in this state. If you suffer a work-related injury or illness, knowing your rights regarding workers’ compensation benefits ahead of time can ensure that you follow the proper procedures to receive all of the benefits to which you are entitled.
If you have recently been injured in the workplace, the Gearhart Law Group can help. Attorney Beth Gearhart and her legal team have extensive experience successfully handling workers’ compensation claims.
Our law offices have convenient locations in the state of Georgia, allowing us to assist clients in multiple Georgia counties with their claims for workers’ compensation benefits. Contact us today to set up a free consultation to learn more about what we can do to help you pursue the workers’ compensation benefits that you deserve.
To be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits in Georgia, your injury or illness must be deemed work-related. If your injury or illness arose out of and occurred in the course of your employment, then it meets the basic requirements of a work-related claim and should be compensable.
But what does it mean for an injury or illness to arise out of and occur in the course of employment? This requirement essentially means that if an employee is performing assigned job duties during their designated work hours—and while doing so, is injured or becomes ill, the injury or illness should be compensable under workers’ compensation laws.
Put another way—a worker who is injured or becomes ill during a lunch break or while engaging in an action that does not involve an assigned work duty may not have a compensable workers’ compensation claim, but this very much depends on each case’s specific facts. Generally, injuries occurring during a worker’s everyday commute to and from the workplace are also non-compensable under the same reasoning.
There are also some exceptions to the above that may apply in some circumstances. For this reason, it is beneficial to speak with a knowledgeable Georgia workers’ compensation attorney as early as possible in your case. Consulting with an attorney is particularly important if your workers’ compensation claim is denied (or controverted) because it might be possible for your attorney to resolve the reason for the denial—which could allow you to receive benefits right away, or later on if the matter must go before an administrative law judge.
If you are severely injured in a work accident, you can (and should) get immediate medical treatment as soon as possible. In these situations, injured workers can get medical care at the nearest emergency room or medical facility can treat their injuries.
However, once the urgent nature of the emergency has resolved, injured workers who need further medical treatment must choose either a doctor from the employer-provided Panel of Physicians or a physician from the Workers’ Compensation Managed Care Organization for care going forward.
If you have a negative experience with your chosen physician, Georgia workers’ compensation law allows you to switch to another doctor on the Panel of Physicians one time. Remember that any further changes typically require an agreement with your employer or the workers’ compensation claims administrator. Following the Georgia workers’ compensation laws regarding your choice of treating physician is vital because workers’ compensation carriers are not responsible for paying for unauthorized treatment.
Choosing a doctor who is not on an approved list can have serious consequences. Since most health insurance policies do not provide coverage for work-related injuries or illnesses, you could end up having to pay the full bill for any unauthorized medical treatment you receive.
For issues that arise in cases that require ongoing medical care—such as the potential need for expensive diagnostic tests or the possible need for surgery—your treating physician will make these arrangements, including any necessary referrals to other specialties. Your workers’ compensation attorney is also there to help you with any questions or concerns regarding any legal issues related to your treatment.
It is crucial for injured employees in Georgia to know their rights and responsibilities when it comes to workers’ compensation so that they do not miss out on benefits. There are many different forms of benefits available to Georgia workers who become ill or injured on the job. For example, one benefit is the payment of medical bills for necessary treatment needed to recover from the injury or illness.
In addition to reimbursement of or payment of medical bills for treatment related to the injury or illness, there are benefits available through the Georgia workers’ compensation system specific to income.
The work injury and illness income benefits for workers’ compensation claims in this state fall into four main categories. These categories include temporary total disability benefits, temporary partial disability benefits, permanent partial disability benefits, and death benefits.
Workers’ compensation income benefits are calculated based on the income of the injured employee—by using their average weekly wage. While there are some exceptions that apply under certain circumstances, this amount is typically calculated by finding the average weekly wage of the worker based on the 52 weeks of work and earnings prior to the date of the injury or illness.
Additionally, Georgia sets a state maximum and minimum benefit rate, which is applied to workers’ compensation income benefits. Your workers’ compensation lawyer can help you learn more about how the maximum and minimum rates could impact your benefits if this issue is applicable to your case.
If you are unable to return to work for at least seven days after you’ve suffered a work-related injury, you could receive temporary total disability benefits in Georgia beginning on the eighth day of your disability.
How Do I Know If I Qualify for Temporary Total Disability Benefits?
In Georgia, you may be able to receive temporary total disability benefits if you can’t work due to a work-related injury. You should be able to receive temporary total disability benefits if one of the following applies to your situation:
- 1.You must have been out of work for a period of at least seven days
- 2.You must be examined by a member of an approved panel of physicians to determine the extent of your work-related injury
- 3.You have work restrictions from your treating physician such as no bending or lifting
- 4.You are found to be totally disabled and unable to work by the treating physician from the approved panel.
A skilled and experienced Georgia workers’ compensation lawyer can help you determine if you are eligible for these types of benefits.
Is There A Limit On How Long I Can Receive Temporary Total Disability Benefits?
In Georgia, you may be eligible to receive temporary total disability benefits for as long as you can’t return to your job if you suffered a catastrophic injury such as paralysis, amputation, a severe traumatic head injury, etc.
If you suffered a Georgia work-related non-catastrophic injury, you may be able to get workers’ compensation benefits for up to 400 weeks or until one of the following occurs:
- 1.You return to work on your own
- 2.You return to your job on light duty and become eligible for temporary partial disability payments; or
- 3.The doctor released you to work and you become eligible for permanent partial disability benefits.
How Much Money Could I Get in Temporary Total Disability Benefits?
The amount you could receive in temporary total disability benefits in Georgia depends on what your average weekly wage is. The benefits you could receive are equal to two-thirds of your average weekly pay.
However, the maximum amount you can receive for temporary total disability workers’ compensation benefits in Georgia is $725 a week for injuries occurring after July 1, 2022. The minimum benefit is $50.00.
What Happens If I Return to Work At A Lower Paying Position?
In Georgia, it’s possible that you may be limited by your disability but able to return to work. You may be performing duties that you didn’t perform before your work-related injury and you may be paid a lower amount.
In this situation, you would lose your temporary total disability benefits, but you may be able to explore other options to receive temporary partial disability benefits if you go back to work at a lower paying position. The maximum for this is $483 per week for injuries after July 1, 2022. Additionally, it may be possible for you to receive permanent partial disability benefits.
What Kind of Georgia Workers’ Compensation Disability Benefits Could I Receive?
In Georgia, if you suffer a serious work-related injury you may be eligible for any of three kinds of disability benefits that are paid to you every week through the workers’ compensation system.
- 1.Temporary Partial Disability: If you suffered a work-related injury that doesn’t allow you to perform your job at full capacity, you may be entitled to light or modified work duties, and potential temporary partial disability benefits.
- 2.Permanent Partial Disability: If you suffered a work-related injury that leaves you temporarily or permanently disabled, you may be eligible to receive permanent partial disability benefits.
- 3.Temporary Total Disability: If your work-related injuries stop you from returning to work at all, this will impact your earning capacity, you may be able to collect temporary total disability benefits. These benefits will allow you to collect up to two-thirds of your weekly wage for up to 400 weeks after your work-related injury.
How Can I Pursue Temporary Total Disability Workers’ Compensation Benefits in Georgia?
The workers’ compensation system in Georgia can be complex and frustrating. If you don’t have an experienced Georgia workers’ compensation attorney by your side, you may make a mistake that could jeopardize your ability to receive benefits.
If you suffered a work-related injury in Georgia, it’s important that you know your legal rights and options including what type of workers’ compensation benefits you may qualify for. At Gearhart Law Group, our experienced workers’ compensation attorneys can help you navigate the system and receive the compensation you deserve.
Temporary partial disability benefits are a type of income benefit that an injured worker in Georgia is entitled to under specific circumstances. Keep in mind that an injured worker can only receive one type of income benefit at a time. For example, you would not be able to receive temporary total disability benefits at the same time as temporary partial disability benefits.
If you have questions regarding your eligibility for temporary partial disability benefits, Gearhart Law Group can help. Gearhart Law Group fights for injured workers in Georgia to receive the temporary partial disability benefits to which they are entitled.
Our workers’ compensation attorneys have successfully obtained workers’ compensation benefits, including temporary partial disability, for injured Georgia workers for many years. If you have been injured in a work accident, or suffer from a work-related illness, contact our law office today to learn more about what we can do for you.
In some cases, an injured worker may be able to return to work before fully completing treatment for their injury. These workers might not be able to perform the same work tasks they were handling before their injury because they are still recovering.
Sometimes, the different job someone takes on while still healing pays less money than they had been earning before the injury. Under these circumstances, injured workers are entitled to receive a regular payment equal to two-thirds of the difference between their average weekly wage prior to their injury and their current wage, subject to a maximum. This benefit is called temporary partial disability.
To accurately calculate your temporary partial disability benefit payment, you will need to know your average weekly wage prior to the date of your injury. This is calculated by determining the average amount you were paid each week, going back 13 weeks prior to your injury.
Next, you will your gross wages for the new job that you are working. Subtract your gross wages from your average weekly wage prior to your injury. This sum is the difference between the two wage rates.
Now, calculate two-thirds of the difference that you just calculated above. This number will be the regular payment you should receive for as long as you are entitled to temporary partial disability benefits (unless your new wage rate changes, in which case this amount will be recalculated). Additionally, this amount is subject to the state-determined maximum rate, meaning that you cannot receive more than that amount.
Here is an example of a temporary partial disability benefit calculation:
If you made $600 per week before your injury, and your new job only pays $300 per week, the difference in wage rate is $300. Next, you would calculate two-thirds of that difference ($300). Two-thirds of $300 is $200. Therefore, your temporary partial disability benefit payments will be $200 per week.
This workers’ compensation income benefit is designed to make up the difference in wage rate for someone who must work a lower-paying job because of their work injury. Temporary partial disability benefits are available for up to 350 weeks from the date of the injury. If you are released from medical treatment without any work restrictions by your doctor, you will be expected to return to work and your temporary partial disability benefits will be discontinued.
To continue receiving benefits for this full period, you must meet certain requirements. Your Georgia workers’ compensation attorney can help you understand your eligibility for temporary partial disability benefits and for how long you can expect the benefits to be paid.
If an injured worker is still receiving medical treatment for their work-related injury or illness, their doctor may determine that they can go back to work with certain restrictions. For example, someone with a back injury might be able to return to work, but with a light duty restriction stating that they cannot lift more than 20 pounds. The injured worker’s treating physician determines the appropriate work restrictions or limitations.
When the employer of an injured worker is able to provide that worker with light duty work meeting these requirements, the injured worker must show up and try to perform the work to the best of their ability. Under Georgia’s Workers’ Compensation Statute, there is a grace period of 15 workdays for this purpose.
The 15-day grace period allows the injured worker to try to perform the work within their restrictions without the fear that they will lose their benefits if they are physically unable to perform the tasks. A reasonable attempt is considered working one full workday or eight hours of work—whichever is greater.
Some employers are unable to accommodate light-duty work restrictions set by treating physicians. If this happens to you, and you cannot work because your employer does not have a position for you, you are still eligible to receive workers’ compensation income benefits. Typically, you would receive temporary total disability benefits in this scenario since you would not be working at all.
However, if you have been unable to work while under a light duty work restriction for 52 consecutive weeks, your income benefits will be automatically reduced from the temporary total disability benefit amount to the maximum temporary partial disability benefit that you are eligible for. For a number of different reasons, injured workers might fluctuate between going back to work with light-duty work restrictions or being taken off of work completely by their doctor. In these cases, at a maximum of 78 total calendar weeks, your current income benefits will automatically be reduced from the temporary total disability payment to the maximum temporary partial disability benefit.
What Are Permanent Partial Disability Benefits?
One of the types of workers’ compensation benefits available to injured workers in Georgia is called permanent partial disability benefits. Injured workers in our state become entitled to permanent partial disability benefits if certain circumstances apply in their case.
How Do I Know If I Am Eligible for Workers’ Compensation Benefits?
Under Georgia law, nearly every employer in the state is required to maintain workers’ compensation insurance. This insurance policy provides coverage for work accidents and allows injured workers to obtain a variety of benefits—including payment of their medical bills related to the injury and compensation for the time needed off of work to recover from their work injury.
Georgia Lawyers for Permanent Partial Disability Benefits
If you were recently injured at work, the best way to ensure that you receive your maximum workers’ compensation benefits is to hire an experienced workers’ compensation attorney to handle your case. At Gearhart Law Group, we are dedicated to fighting for the rights of injured workers.
Attorney Beth Gearhart and her legal team have many years of experience successfully obtaining workers’ compensation benefits for injured workers in the state of Georgia. If you recently suffered a work-related injury or illness, we would be happy to talk to you to learn more about your workers’ compensation claim. Contact our office today to schedule a free consultation with an attorney at our office and begin the process of getting the workers’ compensation benefits that you deserve.
Is My Injury Permanent If My Condition Stops Improving with Medical Treatment?
At some point in time, while receiving medical care for your work injury, your treating doctor might determine that your injury is permanent in nature. While this might be expected for certain severe injuries, it can also be the case for injuries that initially seemed to be minor.
Your treating doctor might conclude that you have reached “maximum medical improvement” status (often referred to as “MMI”), even if you feel that you have still not fully healed from your work injury. Unfortunately, in some cases, injured workers will never be able to return to their former (pre-injury) physical condition.
A treating doctor will declare an injured worker as having reached MMI status once they have received the maximum benefit that reasonable medical treatment can accomplish. If your doctor has concluded that you are at maximum medical improvement, but you are still unable to perform your usual work duties, you could be found to have a permanent impairment rating which equates to a specific amount of money owed to you.
If My Work Injury Is Permanent, Will I Still Receive Workers’ Compensation Benefits?
In the event that your authorized treating doctor determines that your work injury is permanent, you are still entitled to receive workers’ compensation benefits. If your doctor reaches this conclusion while you are unable to work and receiving temporary total disability benefits, you are still eligible to continue receiving this benefit.
However, if your work injury occurred on or after July 1, 1992, and is considered a non-catastrophic injury, you should keep in mind that there is a limit of 400 weeks of benefits (calculated from the initial date of injury). For catastrophic injuries, there is no limit on how long temporary total disability benefits will be paid out.
If you are unsure of whether your work injury is considered to be catastrophic, your workers’ compensation lawyer can help. When you are able to return to work, you are eligible for a weekly income benefit that is based on your permanent disability rating as calculated by your treating physician.
What Are Permanent Partial Disability Benefits?
Permanent partial disability benefits are designed to be paid to compensate an injured worker for the loss of partial use of the injured body part or for the impairment suffered to the person as a whole. This benefit is paid regardless of your income or wage rate.
One thing to keep in mind regarding the calculation of permanent partial disability benefits is that there is a maximum of weeks allowed depending on the injured body part. If your injury causes a complete loss of use of a specific body part, you might be eligible to receive benefits for the full maximum number of weeks. For example, for a total loss of your arm or your leg, you may be eligible to receive permanent partial disability benefits for 225 weeks.
Will I Receive Permanent Partial Disability Benefits If My Work Injury Is Permanent?
If your treating physician believes your injury to be permanent, he or she will conduct an assessment to determine the extent of your permanent disability. This evaluation will be performed by your doctor, who will use the American Medical Association (AMA) Guidelines, 5th Edition to assess the extent of your disability, established as a percentage.
The permanent disability percentage calculated by your doctor using the AMA Guidelines is used in a mathematical formula along with your temporary total disability benefit rate, which is used to calculate the amount of your permanent partial disability benefit if you are eligible. Your workers’ compensation attorney can help you understand more about this calculation and give you an idea of what to expect going forward.
What Will Happen If I Was Found to Be At MMI, but I Believe I Still Need Medical Care for My Work Injury?
Whether or not any further medical treatment can be included in your workers’ compensation case depends on a few different factors. For work injuries that occurred on or prior to June 30, 2013, injured workers are entitled to lifetime medical benefits.
If your injury occurred on or after the date of July 1, 2013, then you will be limited to a maximum of 400 weeks of medical treatment. This 400-week time period begins on the initial date that your injury happened. However, as with other types of workers’ compensation benefits, catastrophic work injuries do not have a limit for medical treatment.
There might also be certain limitations on future medical treatment for your work injury if your case has already been settled. Your Georgia workers’ compensation attorney can help you understand any limitations regarding future medical treatment as it pertains to your own workers’ compensation case.
Is There a Time Limit to Report My Work-Related Injury in Georgia?
Most workers in Georgia already know that it is crucial to report a work-related injury or illness to their employer as soon as possible. However, many Georgia workers might not be aware of the fact that there is a specific deadline by which their work injury or illness must be reported to their employer to ensure that they receive the workers’ compensation benefits that they deserve.
Work Injury Attorneys in Georgia
Anyone who has recently been injured at work or who has contracted a work-related illness should speak with an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer right away. With legal representation by a skilled workers’ compensation attorney, you can rest assured that your case is in good hands.
Attorney Beth Gearhart and her team at the Gearhart Law Group work tirelessly to fight for the rights of injured workers in Georgia. If you or someone you know has recently been injured on the job, our legal team can help.
Give our office a call to set up a free consultation to discuss your potential workers’ compensation case with one of our dedicated lawyers. We can help you get started with your claim for workers’ compensation benefits.
When Is the Best Time to Report My Work Injury?
The best time to report your work injury is immediately after it happens. However, for many reasons, this is not always possible. For example, if you suffer a severe traumatic injury, you might need immediate medical attention. Of course, in that case, you should focus on your health first and obtain medical care as needed right away.
When someone is severely injured at work and needs immediate medical care, witnesses to the accident might call 911 on their behalf or otherwise make arrangements to get the injured person the medical treatment they need. Usually, in this scenario, the injured person’s supervisor, or even a supervisor higher up, has been made aware of the situation.
However, if the above urgent scenario happens to you, it is important not to rely on any assumptions that your employer is already aware of the work accident. Once you have received medical treatment and your condition has stabilized, it is still critical that you report your injury so that you can ensure a record has been made of the incident and that your employer is fully informed.
What Is the Time Limit for Reporting My Work Injury to My Employer?
To make sure that you receive all of the workers’ compensation benefits to which you are entitled, you are required to report your work injury no later than 30 days after it occurred. Of course, the sooner you report your injury, the better.
If you report your injury after 30 days have passed, you risk having your workers’ compensation claim denied. When a claim is denied for this reason, the injured worker could lose out entirely on their right to workers’ compensation benefits.
Since there are some exceptions to this rule under certain circumstances, you should still take the time to consult with an experienced Georgia workers’ compensation lawyer. An attorney can review the facts of your case and be able to give you guidance regarding your legal options for moving forward.
Who Exactly Should I Report My Work Injury To?
By now, you know that you are required to report your work injury to your employer as soon as you can, but who exactly must you report it to? To meet the requirements under Georgia workers’ compensation law for providing notice to your employer, you have a few different options.
Georgia law mandates that you report your work injury or illness to your employer, either by notifying your employer’s representative, your immediate supervisor, or your foreman. Depending on your job, you might have also received more detailed instructions regarding the procedure for reporting a work injury at the time you began your employment or shortly after. It is always a good idea to follow any more specific guidelines that your employer has given you—but as long as you meet the legal requirements, it is likely that you have preserved your right to file for workers’ compensation benefits.
What Else Should I Know About Reporting a Work Injury to My Employer?
In addition to reporting your work injury or illness to your employer, there are a few other things you should do to ensure that you promptly receive workers’ compensation benefits. First, be sure to fill out any paperwork that your employer provides to you regarding your injury.
It is essential to be specific and truthful regarding the incident that caused your injury. If there were any witnesses who saw you get injured, it is helpful to include their names as applicable in any report or paperwork that you fill out.
It can be helpful to hire a workers’ compensation attorney to represent you in your claim for benefits early on in the process so that your lawyer can help you ensure that you properly fill out any necessary paperwork or documents. Having an attorney on your side from the beginning is also beneficial because they can help make sure that the whole process goes smoothly and is handled properly.
What Happens If I Don’t Know the Exact Date of My Work Injury?
For traumatic work-related injuries, the date of injury is usually pretty obvious to everyone involved. However, there are some cases where the true date of injury might not be immediately apparent.
For example, some work injuries occur over a long period of time. These types of injuries are often referred to as repetitive-use injuries. A common example of this type of injury is carpal tunnel syndrome.
When it is impossible to know the precise date on which an injury occurred, you should report the injury as soon as you reasonably believe that the injury is work-related. In many cases, the date on which a doctor determines that there is a causal connection between your injury and your employment is used as the injury date. If you have questions regarding how your date of injury should be determined under unique circumstances, a workers’ compensation attorney can help.
What Does Georgia Count as An On-The-Job Injury?
While it is obvious in some cases that an injury was suffered on the job; and therefore, the injured worker will qualify for workers’ compensation benefits—it is not always so clear. If you have recently been injured at work in Georgia, you might have questions about whether you qualify for workers’ compensation benefits.
Georgia Lawyers for On-The-Job Injuries
At Gearhart Law Group, we understand that the aftermath of a work-related injury or illness can be a challenging time. Attorney Beth Gearhart and her legal team have the skills and experience necessary to help ensure that an injured worker gets the benefits that they deserve. If you or a loved one were recently injured on the job, contact our office today to learn more about what we can do to help.
How Is It Determined Whether or Not an Injury or Illness Is Considered Job-Related?
There are many different circumstances under which it might not be immediately apparent that a work injury or illness is a compensable one under Georgia workers’ compensation law. For example, some injuries develop and progress over an extended period of time—such as carpal tunnel syndrome or some types of back injuries.
For an injury or illness to be an on-the-job injury and accepted by workers’ compensation insurance, it must both arise out of and occur in the course of the worker’s employment. There is no simple test that can be used to make this determination. Rather, whether or not an injury or illness is deemed work-related is decided on a case-by-case basis, meaning several factors are taken into consideration.
What Does It Mean for a Work Injury or Illness to Arise Out of Employment?
When it comes to workers’ compensation claims, a common reason for a dispute to occur is that the employer and insurance claims adjuster have determined that the injury or illness did not arise out of their employment with the employer. This is often confusing to someone who was injured at work. However, just because an injury happened at work does not necessarily make it a work-related injury.
To be compensable under Georgia’s workers’ compensation laws, an injury must arise out of employment. This means that there has to be a causal connection between their employment and the work injury. Idiopathic or spontaneous types of injuries can occur at any time and are caused by factors other than anything having to do with that person’s employment—which means it is not considered to be a work-related injury.
For example, if someone has a heart attack and just happens to be at work when it occurs—generally, there is not a causal connection between that individual’s employment and the heart attack that they suffered. The reasoning behind this is that the heart attack would likely have occurred regardless of where that person was at that time. Put another way, simply being present at work at the time of an injury does not establish a causal connection between the injury and the employment.
However, it is important to note that even though claims for workers’ compensation benefits will be denied if the employer believes the injury did not arise out of the injured worker’s employment—this can be a genuine dispute based on the facts of the case. A denial of a claim on this basis could later be reversed under certain circumstances. If your claim for benefits was denied, it is still a good idea to check with a Georgia workers’ compensation lawyer to see if it is possible to turn things around.
What Does It Mean for a Work Injury or Illness to Occur in the Course of Employment?
Not only must an injury or illness arise out of the injured worker’s employment, but it also must “occur in the course of” their employment to be compensable under Georgia’s workers’ compensation law. An injury or illness is considered to occur in the course of employment if it meets the following requirements:
The accident or triggering illness event must occur during the time period of employment; and
It must occur at a place where the injured employee may reasonably be performing job-related duties; and
It must occur while the employee is fulfilling their employment-related tasks or duties.
Workers’ compensation claims are often denied or “controverted” on the basis that the injury did not occur in the course of their employment. If your claim is denied for this reason, it is still important to speak with an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer about your case.
For example, if you were injured during your regular lunch break, you were not working at the time, so your claim for workers’ compensation benefits would likely be denied or controverted. However, there are certain exceptions to this rule that apply under some unique circumstances.
If it turns out that your lunch break injury occurred while you were in the process of running an errand for your boss or completing a task that your employer instructed you to do, the injury could be considered to have occurred in the course of employment.
Since there can be genuine disputes regarding the requirement that injuries must occur in the course of employment, it is always a good idea to check with a Georgia workers’ compensation lawyer before you give up on your case.
If I Am Injured in a Car Accident on My Way to Work, Is It Considered an On-The-Job Injury?
Many people are unsure if injuries sustained while commuting to or from work are considered work-related. In general, the answer is no. An injury that you suffered while driving to or from work is not typically considered an on-the-job injury.
However, there are many exceptions to this rule. If you are considered a traveling employee (for example, a truck driver) or you are traveling somewhere to perform an errand for your boss on your way home from work, you might still be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. If you are traveling to and from different work sites, this could be deemed work related.
A workers’ compensation attorney can help you understand if any exceptions apply to your case, and they can help you move forward with your claim if it is compensable under Georgia law.
Because My Work-Related Injury Was My Fault. Is This True?
Many injured workers wonder if they are legally at fault for their work injuries because they might have contributed to the cause of their work injury in some way. Fortunately, the Georgia workers’ compensation system is a “no-fault” system—meaning that an injured worker does not need to prove that their employer was at fault for their injury in order to receive workers’ compensation benefits.
Georgia Workers’ Compensation Attorneys for Medical Bills
If you are worried about your medical bills after being injured in a work accident, an experienced Georgia workers’ compensation attorney can help. Attorney Beth Gearhart and her dedicated legal team have helped many injured workers receive payment for the medical bills they incurred for treatment related to their work injuries. Contact our office today to set up a free consultation with our office to learn more about how we can help you ensure that your medical bills related to your work injury are paid.
What Does It Mean to Have a “No-Fault” Workers’ Compensation System?
Under the “no-fault” workers’ compensation system in Georgia, a worker suffering a work-related injury or illness does not have to prove that their employer was at fault for the injury in order to receive benefits. However, the trade-off here is that you are limited to the Georgia Workers’ Compensation Act for pursuing legal action.
Because the Georgia workers’ compensation system is an exclusive remedy for work injuries, (in most cases) an injured worker is limited to pursuing compensation and benefits under the Act. This means that you cannot turn around and sue your employer in civil court for your work injury.
How Can I Make Sure That My Medical Bills Are Paid?
To ensure that any medical bills incurred due to your injury are paid promptly, you should inform your medical provider that you have a workers’ compensation claim. Your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier should handle the payment of the medical bills. If you are having trouble getting your medical bills paid through workers’ compensation, it is crucial to hire a Georgia workers’ compensation attorney so that you can work on resolving these issues in your case.
Do I Have to Go to a Specific Workers’ Compensation Doctor for Medical Care?
An important rule to keep in mind regarding medical care in workers’ compensation cases is that the law requires you to choose a treating physician from a list of six doctors posted by your employer. Your employer must make its employees aware of the list of doctors, and the list must also be located in a prominent location so that employees can see it.
This panel of physicians must be qualified, and the panel must also include at least one minority physician and one orthopedic surgeon. If you are not happy with the medical care provided by the first physician that you choose, you can switch one time to another physician on the approved list. Your employer must agree to any additional physician changes, or you risk not having your medical bills paid through workers’ compensation.
Can My Employer or the Workers’ Compensation Insurance Company Refuse to Authorize and Pay for My Medical Treatment?
Under Georgia workers’ compensation laws, your employer must pay for reasonable, related, and necessary medical treatment. However, it is not unusual for a dispute to arise over whether certain recommended medical treatment is reasonable and necessary.
For example, if your treating physician believes that you need to undergo surgery—it is possible that the insurance company might challenge the need for the surgery. In that case, an independent medical examiner will review your case and make a recommendation. Injured workers who have disputed medical treatment can substantially benefit from hiring a workers’ compensation attorney to help them fight for the treatment they need.
For example, your attorney can file a PMT (Petition for Medical Treatment) with the State Board of Workers’ Compensation. Once this is filed, a conference call with an Administrative Law Judge is scheduled. The Employer/Insurer can either authorize, deny or “controvert” it or attend the call and get a decision from the judge. If a decision is made by the judge, the Employer/Insurer are still able to deny or “controvert” it and then the matter is put on a hearing calendar. The process is helpful, but not as helpful as it could be for injured workers.
Can My Doctor Charge Me More Money for My Treatment After They Have Been Paid Through Workers’ Compensation?
If you receive a bill from your treating physician for additional charges beyond those already paid by your employer or your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance company, you are not required to pay it. Your medical bills for your work injury will be paid at a pre-determined rate pursuant to the Georgia Workers’ Compensation Medical Fee Schedule.
However, if you are receiving medical bills for treatment that is authorized, it is a good idea to bring the issue to the attention of your employer or their workers’ compensation insurance company to help get it resolved. If you hired a workers’ compensation attorney to handle your case, make sure that your attorney is aware of any billing issues that arise. Your lawyer will be able to look into the matter further and can contact your employer on your behalf to get the matter resolved.
What Happens If I Need Immediate Emergency Medical Treatment for My Injury?
If you suffer a serious injury at work and need immediate medical attention, you are permitted to get temporary medical care from the nearest emergency treatment center. Since it is an emergency situation, the doctor treating you there does not need to be on the pre-approved list of six physicians. However, once the emergency is over and the medical treatment that you need is less urgent, you must get treatment from one of the designated physicians on your employer’s list.
What If My Work Injury Happened Due to My Own Willful Misconduct?
While you can still be covered under workers’ compensation for your injuries if the work accident was partially or fully your fault due to a mistake or your own negligent actions, the law does not cover injuries that occur due to willful misconduct by the employee. For example, if you got injured at work because you had been drinking on the job, your employer is not obligated to pay for your medical expenses, and you are likely not eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. As always, if you are unsure about a legal issue, it is a good idea to talk to an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer.
Yes, Georgia’s workers’ compensation program will pay 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.
Do I Have to See My Georgia Employer’s Doctor for Treatment?
After suffering an injury at work, you might wonder if there are any rules regarding medical treatment. In the state of Georgia, workers’ compensation covers medical treatment that is reasonable and related to the work injury. However, it is crucial to understand the rules you must follow for your medical care to be covered under workers’ compensation.
Workers’ Compensation Lawyers in Georgia
Attorney Beth Gearhart is one of the leading lawyers in the area of workers’ compensation in Georgia. If you have recently been injured at work, Attorney Beth Gearhart and her team can help.
We can help you with all aspects of your workers’ compensation case, including obtaining necessary medical treatment to be paid for through workers’ compensation. Contact our office today to find out more about what our team can do to help you navigate the legal aspects of your workers’ compensation claim.
How Do I Know What Doctor to Choose for My Workers’ Compensation Case?
Injured workers in Georgia must choose a treating physician on a list approved by their employer to ensure the medical treatment will be paid for through workers’ compensation. Your employer is obligated to post information regarding acceptable medical providers. The Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation requires every employer to have a legal-sized document published in a conspicuous area in a location where employees are working.
Your employer can fulfill this obligation in one of two ways. First, your employer can choose to post a list identifying a minimum of six different doctors, called a panel of physicians.
The other option for your employer is to post the name of a Workers’ Compensation Managed Care Organization that has been certified. Additionally, your employer is obligated to provide you with notice of the eligible medical service providers, as well as post a toll-free 24-hour phone number for the managed care organization. If your employer uses this option, you can call the number to speak with a managed care representative who can help you schedule an appointment with an eligible medical provider of your choice.
What Are the Requirements for the Doctors Chosen for the Panel by my Employer?
There are some requirements for the panel of physicians that your employer chooses. If these requirements are not met, then the listed panel could be deemed invalid.
One of the requirements is that the panel of doctors chosen by your employer must include at least one orthopedic physician. The panel must also include a minority physician.
Unfortunately the requirement that the doctors on the panel be “unaffiliated” was eliminated. Consequently, it has become more difficult to maintain a panel is invalid and easier for Employers/Insurers to control medical care with physicians they prefer.
What Should I Do About Medical Treatment if My Employer Does Not Have a Panel List Posted?
Employers in Georgia are required by law to either post a panel list of approved treating physicians for workers’ compensation injuries or to post information regarding their chosen Workers’ Compensation Managed Care Organization. However, if your employer failed to post the required panel list or the name of a Workers’ Compensation Managed Care Organization, you are entitled to choose your own treating physician.
In addition, the panel list posted by your employer must be valid. This means that the panel must meet all of the legal requirements. If it is not a valid panel, then you also have the option to choose your own treating physician for the medical care that is necessary to recover from your injury.
If your employer does not post a panel list or a Workers’ Compensation Managed Care Organization, or if the panel is invalid, your medical treatment should still be paid for by workers’ compensation. In cases in which these requirements are not met, and an injured worker chooses their own doctor for treatment, the bills should still be submitted to their employer and paid through workers’ compensation.
You should not be obligated to pay for any medical bills that you receive from your treating physician. If you do receive bills and are asked to pay them yourself, you should inform your workers’ compensation attorney so that they can help resolve the issue. If you do not have a lawyer for your workers’ compensation case, you should strongly consider hiring one to help resolve any issues regarding the payment of medical bills.
What Are My Options for Medical Care in an Emergency?
It is important to note that in emergency situations, such as immediately after a work accident, you are able to get emergency medical care at the nearest emergency treatment hospital or facility. However, once the emergency is over, you must seek treatment from an approved medical provider designated by your employer.
If I Don’t Agree with My Chosen Doctor, Can I Get a Second Opinion?
Yes, you are entitled to make one change to another approved treating physician of your choice. You have the option to change to a different doctor either on the panel list of physicians provided by your employer, or if your employer uses a Workers’ Compensation Managed Care Organization, you can switch once to a different doctor within that group. If you choose to make one change to a different approved physician, you do not have to get the approval of your employer.
If your doctor choice is unauthorized—your employer is not obligated to pay for your medical bills. A Georgia workers’ compensation attorney can help you ensure that you are following the requirements on your end to continue to receive workers’ compensation benefits.
A common question many people ask is, if I’m injured at work, can I sue my employer? The answer is no. The reason is due to the exclusive remedy provision. Under this provision, employers are protected from being sued by employees and are shielded from being sued in tort. The system has essentially been set up as a no-fault system. However, employees do have the right to workers’ compensation if they are injured while working.
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.
Specifically, your workers’ compensation provides you with medical benefits, lost wages if you can’t work for at least seven days, vocational rehabilitation benefits, and 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
If your employer has three or more regular employees, including seasonal, full-time, or part-time, they must carry workers’ compensation.
What is the Exclusive Remedy Provision?
The exclusive remedy provision found in O.C.G.A § 34-9-11 states that any employee injured at work in the state of Georgia has the right to receive workers’ compensation, as long as the injury was the result of performing their job duties. This is true regardless of who might have been at fault.
However, for the workers’ compensation claim to be upheld, the employee must have been injured while performing duties of the job.
In the Georgia Court of Appeals case Chapparal Boats v. Heath, the Claimant was an employee walking into work when her knee popped. There was no evidence of her slipping or falling at work when the injury occurred. However, the Employer denied the employee’s workers’ compensation claim arguing that the injury was a result of walking into work, and not a result of the actual job itself. The Georgia Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the Employer.
Are There Exceptions to the Exclusive Remedy Provision?
Yes. There are a few instances where a third party claim, civil claim, and workers’ compensation claim can be filed concurrently. An example is if an employee is injured at work while driving a company vehicle. The employee might file a claim against both the driver in the accident as well as a workers’ compensation claim with their employer.
Another example is negligence. Let’s say an employee is injured while operating a defective forklift, as a result of the equipment not being properly maintained. This could potentially result in a third party claim. Employees are barred from claiming negligence against an employer, but not a third party, such as the manufacturer of the equipment.
One key element to note is the topic of subrogation, which can occur when a third party claim is running concurrently with a workers’ compensation claim. If another party is found liable, the workers’ compensation carrier might attempt to assert a right of subrogation in an effort to recoup the money it has paid on the claim. In instances of subrogation, Georgia follows the made whole doctrine. Therefore, the insurance company would not be entitled to reimbursement unless that person is “made whole” (O.C.G.A. Sec. 33-24-56.1), Duncan v. Integon Gen. Ins. Corp., 267 Ga. 646,647 (482 S.E.2d 325)(1997); Thurman v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 278 Ga. 162,164(598 S.E. 2d 448)(2004).
Additionally, it is extremely difficult for a workers’ compensation insurance carrier to prove that an injured worker has been made whole, or been fully compensated for their medical bills, lost wages and damages for pain and suffering. Currently the only way this can be proven is through a special verdict by a jury. Most cases resolve without a trial, therefore it is extremely unlikely that a workers’ compensation insurance carrier could prove that the injured worker was “made whole.”
The best thing to do if you are injured while working is to hire an attorney that is experienced in workers’ compensation claims, third party claims, and civil claims.
How Can A Lawyer Help With Your Workers’ Compensation Claim
If you’ve been injured at work, filing a workers’ compensation claim can be overwhelming. This is where Beth Gearhart can help. As a Georgia workers’ compensation lawyer, she will fight on your behalf to help get you the settlement benefits you deserve. The main difference between a positive result and a bad settlement is the workers’ compensation lawyer.
Please evaluate your options carefully and select an attorney that listens to you and focuses on your best interests.
Why Choose Beth Gearhart? She’s the Top Georgia Workers’ Compensation Lawyer
Gearhart Law Group, owned by attorney Beth Gearhart, is the #1 rated and best workers’ compensation attorney in Atlanta, Georgia. Beth represents the rights of injured workers across the State of Georgia with respect and passion. Beth Gearhart is a workers’ compensation lawyer with two decades of work experience doing one thing, litigating workers’ compensation claims.
It’s recommended that you speak with a Georgia workers’ compensation lawyer as soon as possible after your work-related accident. Georgia workers’ compensation insurance companies are notorious for paying less than your injury may be worth or denying your claim outright.
With an experienced Georgia workers’ compensation lawyer from Gearhart Law Group working with you, you will know that you are receiving all the compensation you are owed. We will handle your legal case so you can focus on recovering from your work-related injury.
In 2019, over 78,000 nonfatal workplace injuries took place in Georgia businesses. The average cost of a workers’ compensation claim is approximately $40,000. Because of our mobile and independent population, approximately 14% of the U.S. population said that being an independent contractor was their primary job.
So, do independent contractors get workers’ compensation in Georgia?
No. Independent contractors are not eligible for Georgia workers’ compensation benefits. However, they are able to file a tort claim against the employer, which might give independent contractors the opportunity to recover damages that aren’t covered by a Georgia workers’ compensation claim such as pain and suffering.
That being said, there are many factors that a court takes into consideration when deciding if a person is actually an independent contractor or an employee.
What’s an Independent Contractor vs. Employee?
It’s important to know how an independent contractor and employee are defined under Georgia state law and the differences between the two.
Georgia defines an independent contractor/freelancer/subcontractor as:
- Someone who is paid a specific rate per job, such as a lump sum (rather than a salary or hourly rate)
- Has a contract that outlines the job responsibilities
- Has control over the time/hours they work (versus a set schedule)
- Length of time the independent contractor is employed
- Supplies their own materials and tools
- Work completed is an additional service to the business (rather than as part of the employer’s regular business)
An employee is different from an independent contractor in several key ways:
- From a legal perspective, employment and labor laws apply to employees, not independent contractors.
- For employees, the company controls what an employee does on the job, and how they do it. Typically, employees are provided with the tools and supplies needed to perform their jobs, whereas an independent contractor provides their own supplies.
- Employees receive benefits such as pensions, 401K insurance, and vacation/sick pay; independent contractors do not.
- From a tax perspective, if your employer issues you a 1099 at tax time, they classified you as an independent contractor. If your employer issues you a W-2, they classified you as an employee.
It is important to note that when it comes to workers’ compensation, the difference between whether someone is an independent contractor or an employee is to be determined by a judge on a case-by-case basis.
What is Workers’ Compensation?
Workers’ compensation is designed to protect both the employer and the employee from expenses associated with injuries obtained while on the job. It is an insurance policy paid by employers, typically to a state agency. Injuries associated with, or happening on the job, are then submitted to the agency for payment.
Workers’ compensation provides support to injured workers in the form of payment for medical bills, lost wages, and even death. Workers’ compensation laws also protect injured workers’ jobs/positions as they heal. In return, workers’ compensation protects businesses from the devastating damages that may arise from injured workers.
Common workers’ compensation injuries can come from falls, faulty equipment, or faulty safety equipment. They can also come from repetitive stress injuries. The most commonly injured area is the back, while the most common cause of injury is from motor vehicle accidents.
It’s important to note that your Georgia employer is required by law to carry workers’ compensation if they:
- Have three or more regular employees
- This includes seasonal, full-time, or part-time
Do Independent Contractors Get Workers’ Compensation?
The majority of the time the answer is no, they are not eligible for workers’ compensation if injured on the job. Independent contractors, therefore, should carry their own personal injury insurance policies.
If you are injured on the job, you should discuss your case with a qualified attorney before signing anything. In some cases, independent contractors might be eligible for workers’ compensation or other compensation.
What is the Exclusive Remedy Provision?
The exclusive remedy provision in workers’ compensation shields the employer from being sued in tort, but it doesn’t apply if the person is deemed an independent contractor. This means if an independent contractor has injuries at work, they have the legal option to sue.
Depending on the court’s ruling, independent contractors could be compensated for any medical costs. The amount of monetary compensation they could receive for medical expenses is based on total medical bills. They could include:
- Doctor Visits
- Hospital Bills and other Medical Care Costs
- Prescription Medications
- Physical Therapy
- Gas for travel to and from your doctor’s office
- Pain and suffering costs
Workers’ compensation benefits are similar to the above, with the exception of pain and suffering costs. If you’ve experienced any of the below injuries as an independent contractor, you are entitled to file a tort claim:
- Falling Objects
- Machinery Injuries
- Repetitive Motion Injuries
- Industrial Accidents
- Vehicle Accidents
- Slip and Fall Accidents
- Dog bites
- Pedestrian accidents
Do you have a work-related injury?
Injured On The Job? Follow These Steps:
If you’re injured on the job as an independent contractor, make sure to follow the below steps so that you can increase your chances of receiving the benefits you deserve:
- Take care of yourself and receive immediate medical attention if needed
- Report your injury to your insurance as soon as possible
- Visit a doctor, who can then examine and document your injury
- Contact a lawyer who specializes in work-related injury claims to help settle your claim so that you can peacefully recover from your injury
How a Lawyer Can Help With Your Georgia Workers’ Comp Claim or Tort Claim
If you’ve been injured at your job while working as an independent contractor or as an employee, filing either a civil lawsuit or a Georgia workers’ comp claim can be overwhelming. This is where Beth Gearhart can help. As an expert in Georgia work-related injuries, Beth and the team at her law firm will fight on your behalf to help get you the settlement benefits you deserve while also helping you to save money.
The main difference between a positive result with legal action and a bad settlement is the lawyer. The lawyer’s ability to understand and focus on your best interests is absolutely critical.
Whether you need a lawyer to help you with your tort claim, dealing with insurance agents and your insurance company, or helping with workers’ compensation coverage, workers’ compensation insurance, workers’ comp benefits, and workers’ compensation eligibility, our team at Gearhart Law Group is there to work for you.
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. Only they can answer the question, “Do independent contractors get workers’ compensation?”
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.