After suffering an on-the-job injury, you can file a workers’ compensation claim to recover your medical expenses and a portion of your lost wages.
An Atlanta workers’ compensation benefits attorney with our firm can handle your claim. We can compile the necessary paperwork, review your medical records, and help appeal a denial of benefits.
Types of Workers’ Compensation Benefits You Can Recover in Atlanta
The workers’ compensation lawyers with our firm handle claims that generally involve:
- Medical care
- Temporary disability
- Permanent disability
- Lifetime income replacement
- Vocational rehabilitation
Injured employees can obtain covered medical treatment from a doctor in their employer’s workers’ compensation insurance network. Your employer should provide you with the names of medical facilities where you can receive treatment.
If you are unable to work for a period of time following the injury, you are entitled to temporary disability benefits. A temporary disability is one that keeps you out of work for more than seven days. Then you are entitled to compensation for the entire time that you are out of work while you recover from the injury.
If your injury is severe enough to prevent you from working at all, you may qualify for permanent disability benefits. Even if you reach your maximum medical recovery, you may still not be able to return to work.
In some cases, you may lose some function in your limbs or back, making you eligible for permanent disability benefits. These benefits would provide you with a portion of the money you would have received if you were still able to work.
Lifetime Income Replacement
Within Georgia workers’ compensation laws, there is no mention of the term “lifetime income replacement.” Rather, these types of benefits are labeled as temporary total disability benefits (TTD) because employees with catastrophic injuries can receive these benefits indefinitely if their conditions never improve.
To qualify for lifetime income replacement benefits, medical evidence is key. The Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation (SBWC) Employee Handbook explains that lifetime income replacement benefits only apply if the injury prevents “the employee from being able to perform his or her prior work and any work available in substantial numbers within the national economy.”
Catastrophic injuries can include:
- Severe paralysis
- Severe head or brain injuries
- Severe burns
- Industrial blindness
If your injury prevents you from performing the type of work you did prior to the accident, you may qualify for vocational rehabilitation. This training will give you the knowledge and expertise to find employment in a different line of work if your employer has no other opportunities available.
O.C.G.A. 34-15-1(D)(13) defines vocational rehabilitation services as “any service, provided directly or through public or private instrumentalities, found by the director to be necessary to compensate a person with disabilities for his or her disability to employment and to enable such individual to engage in a remunerative occupation.”
Vocational rehabilitation benefits an employer may offer include:
- On-the-job training for new roles and tasks
- Vocational evaluations
- Career counseling
- Job placement services, including resume building and interview coaching
- Transferable skills analysis and job testing
- Labor market surveys
- Refresher courses
- Educational programs
- Consulting potential employers about job accommodations and modifications
- Education and tuition payments for retraining
Vocational services are crucial for injured employees who can no longer work in the same capacity. Your employer should provide these services at no cost to you.
For a free legal consultation with a benefits lawyer serving Atlanta, call (404) 888-8888
Calculation of Workers’ Compensation Benefits in Atlanta
The “average weekly wage” (AWW) is the starting point when calculating benefits. The SBWC applies a sliding scale based on the impact of the injury and its categorization. The law aims to keep your earnings as close as possible to what they might have been without the injury.
The AWW is your average wage from the last 13 weeks preceding the workplace accident. The calculation will incorporate the basic salary/wage, any allowances (clothing, lodging, meals etc.), tips, and year-end bonuses.
Calculating Your Temporary Total Disability Benefits
You can only get TTD for 400 weeks from the date of the injury. The only exception involves a catastrophic injury.
You do not have to be completely disabled to meet the threshold, though. The law considers whether the impairment significantly reduces your ability to work. If you are able to do light work but your employer is unable to or unwilling to provide an appropriate position, you may still qualify for TTD.
Temporary Partial Disability Benefits
If you are impaired but not totally unable to work, you may be entitled to temporary partial disability benefits. TPD compensates you if you are no longer able to earn the level of wages that you expected per week based on your work.
You can get two-thirds of the difference between your average weekly wage before and after the injury. However, TPD is capped at no more than $450 per week.
Your employer must pay TPD even if you secure a position with a different organization. You cannot collect TPD for more than 350 weeks.
Permanent Partial Disability Benefits
The payment of permanent partial disability benefits (PPD) is dependent on your level of physical disability. It does not focus on earning capacity like the other types of benefits. Hence you are able to get PPD even if you have never missed a single day of work or lost any wages due to the incident.
The SBWC calculates PPD based on your percentage of impairment. Only an authorized doctor can determine your impairment rating, not your employer. Your earnings prior to the incident and the affected body part factor into this calculation.
One of the conditions of PPD is that it does not begin until you have exhausted your TTD or TPD payments.
Lifetime Income Replacement Benefits
If your authorized physician does not allow you to return to work, your weekly benefits will amount to two-thirds of the average weekly wage you made at the time of the injury. In most cases, your average weekly wage will be calculated by taking an average of the past 13 weeks of active employment.
For instance, if you were making $600/week on average before your injury, your TTD check will amount to $400.
If your injury is not catastrophic, the maximum amount of time you can receive TTD is 400 weeks. If an injury is catastrophic, then O.C.G.A. § 34-9-261 stipulates that the injured worker will receive TTD “until such time as the employee undergoes a change in condition for the better.” In addition to lifetime income benefits, a catastrophic injury may also qualify you for lifetime medical benefits and vocational rehabilitation services.
Atlanta Benefits Lawyer Near Me (404) 888-8888
How Long will Your Benefits Last?
Most types of workers’ compensation benefits only last for a certain number of weeks. You will receive income benefits until your condition improves or you reach the scheduled limit for permanent injuries of specific body parts.
There is an exception to this rule. If your injury classifies as “catastrophic,” Georgia workers’ compensation laws allow you to receive lifetime income benefits.
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Your Employer May Owe Penalties for Late Payments
Employers receive a penalty of 15 percent of the outstanding balance if they do not pay your benefits on time. This penalty applies if your employer incorrectly denied your benefits for a period of time, missed a payment altogether, or sent it late.
Be Aware of Workers’ Compensation Waiting Period
You cannot receive any cash benefits for the first seven days following the incident unless your injury lasted for at least 21 consecutive days. If you remain incapacitated for more than 21 consecutive days, you will receive benefits for the first seven days of missed work.
Make Sure You Follow Through with Your Medical Treatment
To continue receiving workers’ compensation benefits, you have to follow your doctor’s orders and complete your treatment. Make sure you keep your appointments and report any symptoms to your doctor.
This way, they can monitor your recovery and provide the evidence you need to continue receiving benefits. If they order you to return to your job or perform light-duty work, do so.
Appealing a Denial of Workers’ Compensation Benefits
If your employer’s insurer denied your claim, we can help. We can review your initial claim, verify and supplement evidence, and prepare you for a hearing. We can help you fill out form WC-14 Notice of Claim and represent you at your hearing.
Filing a Third-Party Lawsuit
Sometimes, you can file a third-party liability lawsuit after a workplace accident. If your injury resulted from a defective piece of equipment or a negligent subcontractor, you can pursue compensation through legal action. In this case, you can seek additional awards for pain and suffering.
An Atlanta personal injury lawyer from our firm can file your suit.
Work with a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer in Atlanta
Our Atlanta workers’ compensation benefits lawyers can help after a workplace accident. We can handle your claim from beginning to end so you can rest and focus on your physical recovery.
For more information about the types of benefits you may receive, call Bader Scott Injury Lawyers at (404) 888-8888.