The workers’ compensation system exists to help injured employees handle their medical expenses after an on-the-job injury. Workers’ compensation provides different types of benefits on a case-by-case basis, and the process of filing for benefits can be confusing. It’s essential for every Georgia employee to know his or her rights when it comes to handling workplace injuries, and that typically begins with a workers’ compensation claim. You should contact an experienced Atlanta work injury attorney at Butler Wooten & Peak, LLP for a free consultation about your case!
Georgia state law requires all employers to carry workers’ compensation insurance coverage. The employer makes premium payments to maintain coverage similar to typical auto or homeowners insurance policies. When a workplace injury occurs, the injured employee must notify his or her employer and start the claims process.
The employer has a legal duty to provide the employee with all materials and paperwork relevant to his or her claim. It is also illegal for the employer to interfere with an employee’s claim or take punitive action against an employee who files for workers’ compensation. Although injury claims may cause the employer’s premium payments to increase, they must still process injury claims in good faith.
Injured employees should report injuries immediately, even if they do not seem severe at first. Although the law allows for 30 days from the date of an injury for the injured employee to file a claim, any delay can lead to lost benefits or complicate the claims process. If the employee delays, the reviewing board may assume that a claimant’s injuries were not severe if he or she delayed in seeking medical treatment.
After filing an initial claim, the claim goes to the State Workers’ Compensation Board for review and the employer provides the claimant with a list of physicians approved by the workers’ compensation insurance carrier. The injured employee must seek medical attention from one of these doctors. However, if the injury requires emergency treatment, the employee may seek medical attention from any available doctor, but must return to one of the approved physicians once the emergency situation is over. Employees must notify their employers which approved physician they wish to visit and may change their mind once without notifying the employer.
The physician treating an injured employee will recommend a recovery time. Injured employees may secure benefits if they are unable to work for seven days or more. Most claimants receive their first benefits check within 21 days after their first missed day of work. Claimants who miss more than 21 days of work will also receive benefits for the first week.
For injuries occurring on or after July 1, 2016, Georgia caps workers’ compensation benefits to no more than two-thirds of the claimant’s average weekly wage, but no more than $575 per week for up to 400 weeks. In some cases, an employee will be able to return to work immediately but may not be able to perform his or her previous job duties. If an injured employee can only return to a lower-paying position, he or she can collect partial benefits payments of no more than $383 per week for up to 350 weeks.
There are also special provisions for employees who sustain permanent injuries, disfigurements, or amputations. If an employee dies from a workplace injury, his or her dependents will receive a maximum of $575 per week. A widowed spouse without children may only receive a maximum of $230,000. It’s also important to note that workers’ compensation benefits may affect Social Security benefits.
Many workplace injury cases involve third-party liability. Third-party liability occurs when a negligent third party (any entity that is not the employer) causes bodily injury to a worker. Construction accidents commonly involve third-party liability, as there are many entities present on all construction sites. Other workers, subcontractors, cleaning crews, nearby drivers, and pedestrians walking through the site may all end up with third-party liability for a worker’s injuries. At Butler Wooten & Peak LLP we can help you with these types of claims in Georgia.
The rules of Georgia’s workers’ compensation system state that once an employee files for this type of coverage, he or she gives up the right to file a personal injury claim against the employer. It does not, however, bar recovery from third parties. If an individual or entity that is not the employer caused the workplace accident, the employee could seek recovery through the workers’ compensation program as well as a personal injury claim. Examples of third parties who may be liable for workplace accidents include:
It is worthwhile to consider filing a third-party claim on top of workers’ compensation, as this can result in greater compensation awards for your damages. You could not only recover for your medical expenses and lost wages through workers’ comp, but also for your physical pain, emotional suffering, lost capacity to earn, and lost quality of life, with a personal injury claim. You must, however, prove the third party’s fault, wrongful act, or omission to win a settlement or verdict in a PI claim.
In any personal injury case, the plaintiff (injured party) bears the burden of proof to show the defendant’s (party allegedly responsible) negligence. Otherwise, the courts will not order the defendant to pay for the plaintiff’s damages. Third-party liability claims require a plaintiff to prove the following three elements:
If you encounter any resistance while attempting to file a claim, or you believe your employer has unlawfully obstructed the claim process, it’s important to reach out to a reliable attorney as soon as possible. The lawyers at Butler, Wooten & Peak, LLP are here to help. Our firm set a record for the largest collected judgment in the United States, and we have helped secure millions in compensation for our past clients in Georgia.
Contact our team today for complimentary consultation. We’ll review the details of your situation and help you navigate the workers’ compensation claims process. We can also help you discover other potential avenues of compensation depending on your circumstances. Call our experienced Atlanta workers compensation attorneys today! (404) 321-1700