Workplace injuries can create massive financial disruption in an injured worker’s life. Payments made through a worker’s compensation claim are a valuable resource that helps wounded workers keep their lives moving forward while on their way to recovery and rejoining the workforce.
But receiving checks late can unnecessarily strain injured workers and cause a chain of other problems, such as being unable to pay the mortgage or car payment on time. If your workers’ compensation check is late, you can collect evidence to show why you believe your payment is late, including the payment schedule you follow. An attorney can also help you establish when and how often you are supposed to receive your checks as they work to build your case.
What Georgia Law Says About Workers’ Compensation Checks
Under Georgia law, insurance companies must send payment checks to qualifying injured workers every week. As the Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation Employee Handbook states, if you do not receive the check when due, the employer or their insurance carrier pays a penalty fee that will be added to your payments (Page 3 of the handbook.)
Penalty Fee for Late Workers’ Compensation Check
Georgia’s worker’s compensation law requires the insurance company to pay a 15 percent penalty for voluntary benefits. A 20 percent penalty will apply if the insurance company did not start your benefits voluntarily and the State Board of Workers’ Compensation judge had to intervene and order benefits.
For example, if you receive $500 per week in workers’ compensation payments, you will get $75 if the check is late (15% of $500). The insurance company may include the penalty fee in your weekly compensation check or send it to you as a separate check.
Furthermore, the following penalty fee structure applies if medical payments are made more than 30 days after the due date, according to O.C.G.A. § 34-9-203:
- 10 percent of the amount due if paid between 30 and 60 days
- 20 percent of the amount due if paid between 60 and 90 days
- 20 percent of the amount due plus 12 percent per annum interest if paid after 90 days
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When Is a Weekly Workers’ Compensation Check Considered Late?
To understand if a check is legally considered late under Georgia law, you must assess two critical pieces of information:
- Was the check mailed from within Georgia or outside? You can look at the postmark and insurance company’s address to determine where the check was mailed from.
- What pay period does the check cover? The dates should be mentioned on the check itself.
If the insurance company mails the check from Georgia, then it must do so by the last day of the pay period of the week for which benefits are due. For example, let’s say your check covers the period of 11/20/22 to 11/26/22. In this case, the insurer must mail the check by 11/26/22 to avoid paying the penalty.
If the insurance company mails the check from outside Georgia, then the check must be sent three days before the end of the pay period. So, using the same example, the check must be mailed by 11/23/22.
When Is a Workers’ Compensation Settlement Check Considered Late?
Once you reach a settlement with the liable insurance company or employer, the document is sent to the State Board of Workers’ Compensation for approval. This process typically takes one week. Once approved, the board will notify the attorneys involved and the injured worker stating whether it approved the settlement.
From this point, the insurance carrier and the employer have 20 calendar days (not business days) to pay the settlement. If they fail to make the payment before this time frame, you will receive a 20 percent penalty in addition to the settlement amount.
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Late Workers’ Compensation Checks Due to Slow Mail Service does Not Qualify for Penalty Fee
It is essential to note that a check is considered late only if the sender did not mail it to you on time. Once the insurance company mails out a check, what happens after is not in their hands.
If the mail service is slow, for example, around the holidays, and your post office takes several days to process and deliver the check, the insurance company will not owe you any penalty.
Also, ensure the insurance company has the correct mailing address so your check doesn’t get lost. If the post office loses your check or delivers it to the wrong address, notify the insurance company immediately and request it to reissue the check.
Consult Our Georgia Workers’ Compensation Attorney to Secure Late Payments
Contact Bader Scott Injury Lawyers to learn what to do if your workers’ compensation check is late. We can verify whether your check was mailed late and ensure you receive the penalty fee or any applicable interest. In some cases, the insurance companies may refuse to pay you the owed penalties despite mailing your check past the due date.
Our workers’ compensation attorney will protect your rights and work to help you retain the weekly workers’ compensation payment or settlement and any applicable late fees you are entitled to receive. Call us today for a free case review with our team members to learn about your legal options.