Depending on the complexity of your accident and injuries, your workers’ compensation (WC) case could take anywhere from a few months to more than a year to resolve. How long yours will last depends on too many factors to provide a typical time frame.
An Atlanta workers’ compensation lawyer can give you a personalized estimate of how long your case may take.
Factors That Influence How Long a Workers’ Comp Case May Last
Georgia.gov explains how to file for workers’ comp and the process that starts after filing, but that process does not always run smoothly. The following are circumstances that could prolong your case:
If you suffered a catastrophic injury on the job, such as an amputation, severe back or neck injury, or traumatic brain injury (TBI), it may take a long time to reach maximum medical improvement (MMI). Once you reach this point, the healthcare professionals overseeing your case can more accurately estimate the cost of your future medical needs.
To ensure you receive fair compensation, you must have a solid understanding of all your medical costs. Otherwise, you may end up with a workers’ comp settlement that will not cover all your needs.
Paperwork Errors or Delays
If you, your employer, or the insurance company makes a mistake on forms or documentation, that can increase the time to resolve your case.
Claim Denial or Other Disagreements
Disagreements between you and your employer or your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance company regarding the facts of your case and the severity of your injuries can delay your claim. It takes time to respond to such delays, and even more time if the insurance company denies or undervalues your workers’ comp claim and you must file an appeal.
For some accidents, the cause is obvious, but others may require an investigation to pinpoint what happened. For example, if the insurance company believes you were injured due to your own willful misconduct, it will likely deny your claim.
Should your attorney’s investigation yield different results than the insurance company’s investigation, your case will be extended until you can reach an agreement.
For a free legal consultation, call (404) 888-8888
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Workers’ Compensation Claim Procedures in Georgia
Workers’ compensation is supposed to be a win/win situation for employees and employers. The employee receives workers’ compensation benefits if injured on the job, and the employer’s liability is limited. However, the system doesn’t always work smoothly, and that is when the assistance of an attorney familiar with workers’ compensation law can be invaluable.
According to the Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation (SBWC), the basic procedure for a WC claim involves the following steps:
- If your workplace injury requires emergency medical care, tend to your needs immediately. After receiving urgent treatment, an authorized physician will provide further care.
- Tell your employer or supervisor about your injury as soon as possible. You have a maximum of 30 days to do so.
- If you don’t need emergency care, see an authorized healthcare professional to treat your injury. Your employer can provide a list of approved physicians.
- Per O.C.G.A. § 34-9-82, you have one year from your injury date to complete a WC-14 form and send it to the SBWC.
If the SBWC approves your claim, you should receive your first check within 21 days of your first missed work day. However, if the SBWC challenges or denies your claim, a workers’ comp lawyer can help you navigate requirements and fight for the benefits you deserve after suffering an on-the-job injury.
When Do Workers’ Compensation Benefits Begin, and What Do They Cover?
According to the SBWC, you should receive income benefits to compensate for your lost wages if you cannot work for at least seven consecutive days. If you can’t work for more than three weeks, you will also get income benefits for the first seven days. Workers’ compensation benefits include two-thirds of your average weekly wage, up to a maximum of $800 per week.
How long you receive income or medical benefits depends on the seriousness of your injury. You may receive benefits for up to 400 weeks, or if your injury is catastrophic, for the rest of your life.
All of your medical costs, including but not limited to treatment, travel, prescription, and rehab, are covered. Costs of vocational rehab are also covered if you need to change jobs due to your injury.
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How Much Does it Cost to Hire a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer?
Many workers’ compensation attorneys work on a contingency fee basis. This means they must recover benefits for you to receive their legal fees. If they don’t recover compensation for you, you owe them nothing.
If your lawyer succeeds in obtaining workers’ comp benefits for you, their fee cannot exceed 25% of your weekly benefits or settlement amount, per the SBWC.
What to Do If Your Employer Does Not Carry Workers’ Compensation
Georgia requires employers with three or more full-time or part-time employees to carry workers’ compensation insurance. If they ignore the law, you can report them to the SBWC.
If your employer should have workers’ compensation coverage but doesn’t and you are injured on the job, you may qualify to file a personal injury lawsuit against your employer. Your attorney can explain your options to you in this situation.
Contact Bader Scott Injury Lawyers for Help with Your Workers’ Comp Case
It’s scary when you’re injured and unable to bring home the paycheck you and your family rely on. At Bader Scott Injury Lawyers, our workers’ comp attorneys have extensive experience representing injured workers. Georgia has a robust workers’ comp system that can provide the benefits you need if you know how the system works.
Contact us to schedule your free workers’ comp case consultation. We can help you navigate and understand the rules so that your rights are protected and you get the best possible outcome for your claim.