Workers’ Compensation Lawyer
Workers' Compensation Lawyer
Georgia Workers’ Comp law can be complex and frustrating for injured workers. For many injured workers, it seems as though the workers’ comp insurance company is actively working to defeat your ability to get the medical care and compensation that you are entitled to. Hire an experienced Workers’ Compensation lawyer that can guide you through the process and get you the compensation you’re entitled to.
Should I get a workers’ compensation lawyer?
As a general rule, more information is better than less, and speaking with a workers’ compensation lawyer sooner – rather than later – can make a tremendous difference in your family’s lives. With no obligation or costs, a workers’ compensation lawyer in our office will be able to help you understand your options and the pitfalls of Georgia workers’ comp law that you must be careful to avoid. Remember: your injury must be reported to your employer within 30 days after the incident.
There is no cost or obligation for talking with one of our Georgia workers’ compensation lawyers.
Most of our clients do not want to be involved in a contentious case involving their employers, and most of our clients want to maintain their jobs. It is only when they cannot get answers or when they are being treated unfairly by employers or workers’ compensation insurers that they seek the advice from a workers’ compensation lawyer. If you are seeking more information about your rights and a potential workers’ comp claim, call Sessions & Fleischman today for a free consultation.
What are your rights as an injured worker under Georgia Workers’ Compensation law?
- If you are injured on the job, you may receive medical, rehabilitation and income benefits. These
benefits are provided to help you return to work. Your dependents may also receive benefits if
you die as a result of a job-related injury. Our job is to help injured workers receive the maximum compensation benefits that they are entitled to under the Georgia Workers’ Compensation system. If you have a work-related injury, you are entitled to have the assistance of a lawyer that you choose to help you with your workers’ compensation claim.
2. Your employer is required to post a list of at least six doctors (this is the panel of physicians) or the name of the certified WC/MCO (Managed Care Organization) which provides medical care. You may choose a doctor from the list and make one change to another doctor on the list without the permission of your employer. However, in an emergency, you may get temporary medical care from any doctor until the emergency is over; then you must get treatment from a doctor on the posted list.
3. Your authorized doctor bills, hospital bills, rehabilitation in some cases, physical therapy,
prescriptions and necessary travel expenses will be paid if injury was caused by an accident on
4. An injured employee is entitled to weekly income benefits if they have more than seven days of lost time due to an injury. Your first check should be mailed to you within 21 days after the first day you missed work. If you are out more than 21 consecutive days due to your injury, you will be paid for the first week. You’ll typically receive disability benefits and payments from your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier.
5. Accidents are classified as being either catastrophic or non-catastrophic under Georgia Workers’ Compensation law. Catastrophic injuries are those involving amputations, severe paralysis, severe head injuries, severe burns, blindness, or of a nature and severity that prevents the employee from being able to perform his or her prior work and any work available in substantial numbers within the national economy. In catastrophic cases, you are entitled to receive two-thirds of your average weekly wage up to the maximum allowed under the law for a job-related injury for as long as you are unable to return to work – this is your lost wage claim. You are also entitled to receive medical and vocational rehabilitation benefits to help in recovering from your injury. If you have a permanent partial disability,
6. In all other cases (non-catastrophic), you are entitled to receive two-thirds of your average weekly wage, but not more than the maximum allowed under the law for a job-related injury. You will receive these weekly benefits as long as you are totally disabled, but no longer than 400 weeks.
If you are not working and it is determined that you have been capable of performing work with
restrictions for 52 consecutive weeks or 78 aggregate weeks, your weekly income benefits will be
reduced to two-thirds of your average weekly wage, but no more than the maximum allowed
under the law, not to exceed 350 weeks.
7. When you are able to return to work but can only get a lower paying job as a result of your injury, you are entitled to a weekly benefit of not more than the maximum allowed under the law for no longer than 350 weeks.
8. Your dependent(s), in the event you die as a result of an on-the-job accident, will receive burial
expenses up to the maximum allowed under the law and two-thirds of your average weekly wage,
but not more than the maximum allowed under the law. These benefits are referred to as death benefits. A widowed spouse with no children will be paid a maximum allowed by law at the time of injury. Benefits continue until he/she remarries or openly cohabits with a person of the opposite sex.
9. If you do not receive benefits when due, the insurance carrier/employer must pay a penalty which will be added to your payments.
FAQs About Georgia Workers’ Compensation Law and Your Workers’ Compensation Lawyer
- You should follow written rules of safety and other reasonable policies and procedures of the
- After an on-the-job injury, how soon must I report the incident to my employer in order to pursue a workers’ comp insurance claim? You must report any accident immediately – but not later than 30 days after the accident.
- Who do I report my on-the-job injury to in order to properly begin a workers’ compensation claim? You must report the incident causing your injury to your employer (or business owners), your employer’s representative, your foreman, OR immediate supervisor. If you do not report it to one of those parties or entities, you may lose your ability recover for your work-related injury.
- Am I required to follow the treatment plan ordered by the State Board of Workers’ Compensation?If you do not follow reasonable medical treatment and rehabilitation services ordered by the State
State Board of Workers’ Compensation or the Workers’ Comp Board may suspend your benefits.
- No compensation shall be allowed for an injury or death due to the employee’s willful misconduct – this does not include willful misconduct of others including co-workers.
- You must notify the insurance carrier/employer of your address when you move to a new location. You should notify the insurance carrier/employer when you are able to return to full-time or part-time work and report the amount of your weekly earnings because you may be entitled to some income benefits even though you have returned to work.
- A dependent spouse of a deceased employee shall notify the insurance carrier/employer upon
change of address or remarriage.
- You must attempt a job approved by the authorized treating physician even if the pay is lower
than the job you had when you were injured. If you do not attempt the job, your benefits may be
- If you believe you are entitled to income benefits and your insurance carrier/employer denies
these benefits, you must file a claim within one year after the date of last authorized medical
treatment or within two years of your last payment of weekly benefits or you will lose your right to
- Timeliness of request/demand for death benefits under workers’ compensation law. If your dependent(s) do not receive allowable benefit payments, the dependent(s) must file a
claim with the Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation within one year after your death or lose the right to these benefits.
10. Mileage reimbursement under Georgia Workers’ Compensation law. Any request for reimbursement to you for mileage or other expenses related to medical care must be submitted to the insurance carrier/employer within one year of the date the expense was incurred.
- Refusal of drug testing after an injury. If an employee unjustifiably refuses to submit to a drug test following an on-the-job injury, there shall be a presumption that the accident and injury were caused by alcohol or drugs. If the presumption is not overcome by other evidence, any claim for workers’ compensation benefits would be denied. Below is the law that governs the availability of workers’ comp benefits after refusal of a drug- and/or alcohol-test after an injury:
(a) No compensation shall be allowed for an injury or death due to the employee’s willful misconduct, including intentionally self-inflicted injury, or growing out of his or her attempt to injure another, or for the willful failure or refusal to use a safety appliance or perform a duty required by statute.(b) No compensation shall be allowed for an injury or death due to intoxication by alcohol or being under the influence of marijuana or a controlled substance, except as may have been lawfully prescribed by a physician for such employee and taken in accordance with such prescription:(1) If the amount of alcohol in the employee’s blood within three hours of the time of the alleged accident, as shown by chemical analysis of the employee’s blood, urine, breath, or other bodily substance, is 0.08 grams or greater, there shall be a rebuttable presumption that the accident and injury or death were caused by the consumption of alcohol;(2) If any amount of marijuana or a controlled substance as defined in paragraph (4) of Code Section 16-13-21, Code Sections 16-13-25 through 16-13-29, Schedule I-V, or 21 C.F.R. Part 1308 is in the employee’s blood within eight hours of the time of the alleged accident, as shown by chemical analysis of the employee’s blood, urine, breath, or other bodily substance, there shall be a rebuttable presumption that the accident and injury or death were caused by the ingestion of marijuana or the controlled substance; or(3) If the employee unjustifiably refuses to submit to a reliable, scientific test to be performed in the manner set forth in Code Section 34-9-415 to determine the presence of alcohol, marijuana, or a controlled substance in an employee’s blood, urine, breath, or other bodily substance, then there shall be a rebuttable presumption that the accident and injury or death were caused by the consumption of alcohol or the ingestion of marijuana or a controlled substance.(c) With the exception of the rebuttable presumptions set forth above, the burden of proof shall be generally upon the party who claims an exemption or forfeiture under this Code section. O.C.G.A. § 34-9-17.Is there no limit to whether the presence of drugs and/or alcohol is related to the cause of the injury? This is a great question that your workers’ compensation lawyer should be prepared to raise and litigate in the right case.
- False statements in Georgia workers’ compensation cases. Do not make any false statements in the effort to try to obtain workers’ compensation benefits. This crime is a misdemeanor punishable $10,000 and/or imprisonment up to 12 months. Also, any false statements or false evidence given under oath during the course of any administrative or appellate division hearing is perjury.
- Attorney’s fees in Georgia workers’ compensation cases. Did you know that your workers’ compensation lawyer cannot charge you more than 25% of your recovery? The fee of an attorney for service to a claimant in an amount of more than $100.00 shall be subject to the approval of the board, and no attorney shall be entitled to collect any fee or gratuity in excess of $100.00 without the approval of the board. The board shall approve no fee of an attorney for services to a claimant in excess of 25 percent of the claimant’s award of weekly benefits or settlement.
WHAT MUST YOUR EMPLOYER SHOW BEFORE IT CAN TERMINATE WORKERS’ COMPENSATION BENEFITS?
If you have previously been receiving workers’ compensation benefits in Georgia but you have fully recovered from the on-the-job injury, your benefits may be terminated based upon the (positive) change in your health condition. However, your employer is required to show some things in order to terminate the workers’ compensation benefits. Your employer is required to show that you could return to work because of the position improvement/change in your health and the employer must show that they offered you suitable employment prior to the termination of benefits.
Where the evidence authorizes, as it did in this case, a finding that the claimant has fully recovered from the injury received on the job and no longer suffers any disability therefrom, an award holding that there has been a change in condition is proper. This is true even though the claimant is disabled if such disability is due to causes unrelated to the on the job injury.
(Citations omitted; emphasis supplied) Williams Bros. Lumber Co. v. Magee, 162 Ga. App. 865 (292 SE2d 477) (1982). Nevertheless, EMC could not suspend McDuffie’s workers’ compensation benefits based on a change in condition for the better without showing that McDuffie could return to work because of that change and that EMC offered McDuffie suitable work. See Jones County Bd. of Ed. v. Patterson, 255 Ga. App. 166, 168 (564 SE2d 777) (2002); Smith v. Brown Steel, 232 Ga. App. 698, 699 (2) (503 SE2d 592) (1998).
The key determination is whether there was suitable work available and offered to McDuffie to diminish or terminate the loss in income. Sadie G. Mays Memorial Nursing Home v. Freeman<, 163 Ga. App. 557, 559 (3) (295 SE2d 340) (1982). If suitable work was not available, then EMC was required to continue paying indemnity benefits to McDuffie.
Regardless of the circumstances in this case, the Workers’ Compensation Act is highly remedial in nature and this Court must construe it liberally in favor of the claimant in order to accomplish its “beneficent” purposes.
McDuffie v. Ocmulgee EMC, No. A16A0092, 2016 WL 3884618, at *3 (Ga. Ct. App. July 15, 2016).
About the workers’ compensation lawyers at Sessions & Fleischman
From our offices in Atlanta, Macon, and Columbus, the workers’ compensation lawyers at Sessions & Fleischman serve injured workers throughout Georgia. If you have suffered a workplace injury, at your free consultation and case evaluation, we will discuss how to establish your comp claim with the applicable insurer and how to move your claim forward as quickly as possible. It is critical that your workers’ compensation lawyer understands the distinction between your workers’ compensation claim and any possible personal injury claims that may brought from the same injury or incident.