Workers’ compensation is a no-fault system, which means it doesn’t matter who caused the injury, as long as it occurred at work or while performing work-related tasks; you’ll still be covered and eligible for benefits. There are certain exceptions, such as if the injury was intentional, if it was caused by illegal activities or willful misconduct, or if you were intoxicated.
However, the no-fault system does mean that if you made a mistake that caused or contributed to your injury, you can still receive workers’ compensation. Your employer cannot stop you from filing a claim just because you hold some share of responsibility for the accident. At the same time, if your employer was responsible for the accident, you cannot sue them. Workers’ compensation guarantees that workplace injuries are covered while protecting employers from lawsuits. A Savannah workers’ compensation attorney from Bader Scott Injury Lawyers is here to help after a workplace injury.
Does Your Injury Qualify for Georgia Workers’ Compensation Coverage?
If you work in Georgia and have been injured (or have become ill) through employment, then your injury or illness qualifies for workers’ compensation benefits. If you are the survivor of someone who passed away from work-related injuries or illnesses, you are eligible for workers’ compensation death benefits.
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Does My Employer Have to Carry Workers’ Compensation Coverage?
If your employer has three or more regular employees, they do have to carry workers’ compensation coverage. This includes all types of employees, such as part-time, full-time, minors, and even those working illegally. If you’ve been injured on the job and work for an employer with three or more regular employees, then you qualify for workers’ compensation benefits (Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation).
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What Workers’ Compensation Benefits Are Available in Georgia?
The Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation provides an Employee Handbook with detailed explanations of all benefits you may be eligible for if you’ve been injured on the job. These benefits include medical coverage, income reimbursement, and death benefits.
Medical benefits will cover all necessary and reasonable medical expenses. This includes doctor appointments, hospital stays, surgeries, physical therapy and rehabilitation, prescriptions, etc. It is important to note that you must see a physician approved by your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance company.
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How Much Will I Receive for Temporary or Permanent Disability?
Income benefits provide reimbursement for lost wages if you must miss work for your injuries. If you do not miss any work or miss fewer than seven days, you will not be eligible for income reimbursement. You will only be reimbursed for the first seven days if you miss more than 21 days of work.
If your injury is catastrophic and prevents you from returning to work, you can receive income benefits for as long as it takes for you to return to work again, if you ever can. If the injury is not catastrophic, you can receive benefits for up to 400 weeks. The rate of income reimbursement is 2/3 of your former average weekly pay.
Death benefits ensure that your dependents receive compensation if your workplace injury or illness results in death. This includes medical expenses, funeral and burial expenses, and lost wages.
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How Common Are Workplace Injuries and Illnesses?
In 2019, more than 2.8 million job-related injuries and illnesses were reported to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Additionally, over 5,300 individuals were fatally injured at the workplace.
According to data compiled by the U.S. Department of Labor in Georgia, 8,434 workers’ compensation claims were filed during the first ten months of 2021.
Common Workplace Injuries That Lead to Recoverable Damages
Our lawyers are prepared to help you fight to recover compensation for all your job-related injuries and illnesses, including the following:
- Broken bones
- Repetitive stress injuries
- Soft tissue damage
- Eye injuries
- Hearing damage
- Head and brain injuries
- Neck, back, and spinal cord injuries
- Chest injuries
- Organ damage
- Crush injuries
- Respiratory diseases and lung damage
When we investigate your case, we’ll determine all the injuries and illnesses you’ve endured and fight for fair compensation. You should not bear the financial burden; our firm won’t let you. We are here to advocate for you and secure justice.
Causes of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses
You can claim workers’ compensation anytime you were injured or contracted an illness during employment. Our lawyers commonly represent clients who were injured due to the following and more:
- Car accidents
- Slip, trip, and fall accidents
- Falls from heights
- Hazardous or defective equipment
- Falling objects and scaffolding accidents
- Construction site accidents
- Fires and explosions
- Repetitive motions
- Lifting heavy objects
- Exposure to harmful substances
- Unsafe work conditions and failure to adhere to OSHA regulations
- Lack of safety protection
Remember that regardless of the nature of your accident and injuries or illnesses you incurred, you are entitled to receive any workers’ compensation benefits for which you are eligible regardless of whether your employer or another party was negligent.
Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim in Savannah
It’s important to avoid wasting time when you’ve been injured at work and wish to file a workers’ compensation claim. If you don’t act quickly, you may lose your eligibility and right to receive benefits and compensation. You are required to notify your employer about the injury within 30 days of the incident. The longer you wait, the more harm you do to your claim.
What do I Do After a Work Accident or Illness?
- Tell your supervisor about your injury. Be forewarned that if you do not inform them within 30 days after you sustained the injury, you will likely be ineligible for workers’ compensation benefits.
- Get medical care. You will have to visit an employer-approved doctor for your work-related injuries. Your employer should give you a list of physicians from which to choose. The only exception to the employer-approved doctor mandate is if your accident was an emergency. In this case, you can receive temporary care from any physician or facility.
- File a claim with the State Board of Workers’ Compensation (SBWC). Although not legally mandated, it is highly advisable to have a lawyer review your case prior to filing. Bader Scott Injury Lawyers will make sure you do not make any mistakes on your claim and get the full amount of benefits to which you are entitled.
- Set up a consultation with us. We want to review your case with you, so you are prepared for whatever lies ahead. Read on to learn how we help our clients manage their cases and prove that they deserve benefits, even if the workers’ compensation insurance company denies their claim.
Workers’ Compensation for the Independent Contractor
Georgia independent contractors (ICs) are not typically entitled to workers’ compensation, as employers are not required to carry insurance for them. For this reason, there may be occasions when employers attempt to take advantage of this and misclassify workers to save money.
Generally speaking, however, if the employer can control the worker’s time, methods, manner, and means of execution of work to be completed, then he or she should be considered an employee and not an IC. Moreover, whether a worker is an employee or an IC is not controlled by how the employer designates them but by the circumstances surrounding the individual’s work.
Simply put, because your employer has you documented as an IC on paper does not necessarily mean you are considered as such under the Georgia Workers’ Compensation Act. We can help you determine if this factor applies in your case and help you file a workers’ compensation claim, if applicable.
Can I Still Recover Damages If I’m Responsible for a Workplace Accident?
Workers’ compensation is a no-fault system. This means that you can receive all the benefits to which you are entitled even if you were partially or wholly responsible for injuries or an illness you’ve sustained. It is not necessary to prove that an employee or other party was negligent.
However, Georgia does have a comparative negligence law (O.C.G.A.§ 51-12-33) that applies to personal injury cases. Under this statute, an employee is only entitled to file a third-party claim if they were less than 50% liable for the accident or illness.
What If My Claim Was Denied?
If your claim is denied, you can appeal. You would be wise to do so with the representation of a qualified Savannah workers’ compensation attorney. The State Board of Workers’ Compensation will let you know if your claim is denied with a notice and explanation.
You can then request a hearing where you can present the evidence you deserve benefits. You can testify yourself, have experts testify, and have other relevant witnesses testify as part of your evidence. You can also collect the appropriate documents and records to prove your case.
If your claim is still denied, you can appeal with the Appellate Division of the State Board of Workers’ Compensation. You have 20 days from receiving the notice of denial to file an appeal.
Third-Party Liability Claims and Workers’ Compensation
If you are injured on the job, workers’ compensation covers your injuries while protecting your employer from a lawsuit. Thus, you cannot file a lawsuit against your lawyer for a workplace injury unless willful misconduct applies.
However, if there is a third party whose negligence contributed to your injuries, then you can file a third-party claim in addition to your workers’ compensation claim. This could be the manufacturer or distributor of a defective product, the owner of hazardous properties, or the at-fault driver in an auto accident.
You can collect additional damages if you have a third-party claim, including non-economic damages, like emotional distress and pain and suffering.
We Make Sure You Get All the Benefits You Deserve
Georgia workers’ compensation insurance laws, detailed in Georgia Code Title 34, Chapter 9, provide for several categories of benefits that you may receive.
- Medical benefits – Workers’ compensation covers all your authorized hospital bills, lab work, doctor’s bills, physical therapy, prescriptions, and necessary travel expenses so long as your injury occurred on the job. If you already paid medical bills, then you are entitled to reimbursement for those expenses.
- Income replacement benefits – If your injury causes you to miss more than seven days of work, you are entitled to income replacement checks. The duration of your eligibility for benefits depends on the nature, severity, and scope of your injury/disability. You may recover temporary total disability, temporary partial disability, or permanent partial disability.
- Rehabilitation – If you can no longer perform the same job you had prior to injury because of your disability, workers’ compensation will also pay for certain vocational rehabilitation services so that you can obtain training and return to the workforce.
The amount and types of benefits you can recover largely depend on the details of your case. Let us investigate your case so we can identify all the benefits you deserve and ensure you receive a fair medical evaluation and impairment rating.
We Help You Get Catastrophic Injury or Death Benefits
Georgia specifies that workers who suffer catastrophic injuries are entitled to benefits indefinitely or until able to return to work. Ensuring the correct classification of an injury as catastrophic is vital because otherwise, benefits stop after 400 weeks. Examples of injuries that Georgia considers catastrophic are spinal cord injuries causing paralysis, severe brain injuries, amputations, severe burns, and more.
Insurers may vaguely interpret eligibility requirements, though. That is why it is so important to establish a thorough case backed by medical evidence. We work with medical experts and collect all the necessary evidence we need to make our argument that your injury is, in fact, catastrophic under the state’s requirements.
Meanwhile, if a worker died because of a work accident or illness, the deceased’s family will receive death benefits, including income replacement and funeral and burial expenses. The deceased’s spouse and minor children may qualify as beneficiaries. The spouse may receive benefits until he or she remarries or cohabitates with a partner, while the children get benefits until they turn 18 or 22 if enrolled in school.
Benefits of Working with a Workers’ Compensation Attorney
In some situations, a workers’ compensation claim is simple. If you are injured on the job and miss a day of work, you notify your employer of the injury, and your employer files a First Report of Injury. Then the company that provides the workers’ compensation coverage reimburses your medical expenses and settles the claim.
However, there are situations where the employer might deny coverage, pressure the employee to return to work too soon, or dispute whether the employee’s own behavior was willfully reckless. In situations like this, you could use a workers’ compensation attorney to represent you.
With the right legal representation from a qualified attorney, you will find that your workers’ compensation claim goes much more smoothly. You will have a professional on your side to gather and interpret evidence, present your case, and ensure that you receive the compensation that you deserve.
Keep in mind that Georgia law requires that lawyers charge no more than 25% of your benefits, so legal representation should be affordable for any injured employee.
We Help You Deal with Whatever Challenges Arise
You are not required to hire a workers’ compensation attorney to file a claim or appeal a denial. But in most cases, a lawyer can be very helpful to ensure you exercise all your rights, build a solid case to prove your entitlement to benefits, and handle any issues that arise throughout the process. Many factors complicate a claim and increase the likelihood of running into speed bumps with your benefits.
- What if your injury is difficult to prove? (e.g., soft tissue injuries, pain conditions, etc.)
- What if the insurance company claims your condition was pre-existing and not work-related?
- What if the insurance company incorrectly tabulates your income replacement benefits? Did they include your regular overtime when calculating your average weekly wages?
- What if your disability rating winds up being much lower than it should be?
- What if you go back to work, but your condition worsens again?
- What if you inadvertently do or say something after the accident or during the claims process that thwarted your rights to benefits? (e.g., missed medical appointments, not sticking to your treatment plan, etc.)
- What if your treating doctor okays you to return to work but you are honestly not well enough yet?
See how quickly things can go wrong? Bader Scott Injury Lawyers works to preempt many of these issues and preserve your rights and best interests. And if they do arise, we help you manage and overcome them. Plus, when you have a lawyer, you can rest a little easier knowing that you do not have to handle any legal issues on your own; you will have an advocate on your side, protecting what is important to you.
To learn more about workers’ compensation, visit the SBWC’s website and download a copy of the SBWC Employee Handbook. For an easier, much more employee-friendly read, you can request a free copy of Seth Bader’s book, 9 Common Mistakes That Can Destroy Your Workers’ Compensation Case and How to Avoid Making Them.
Call for Your Free Consultation Now
If you suffered a workplace injury and want legal help, look no further than Bader Scott Injury Lawyers. We offer free consultations where we examine your case and explain your rights and options. You deserve affordable legal help and fair compensation. We are here to help you achieve that. We’ll do everything we can to obtain the best outcome for you.
Call or text (404) 888-8888 or complete a Free Case Evaluation form