How are workers’ comp payments calculated in Georgia?
If you’ve been hurt on the job or a loved one was killed in the course of employment, a necessary consideration is how you’ll be compensated and how much workers’ compensation payments you or the family of a deceased worker will receive. Our Georgia workers’ compensation lawyers will work to help you understand how much compensation benefits will be paid.
“Except as otherwise provided in this chapter, the average weekly wages of the injured employee at the time of the injury shall be taken as the basis upon which to compute compensation and shall be determined, subject to limitations as to the maximum and minimum amounts provided for in Code Sections 34-9-261 and 34-9-265, as follows:
(1) If the injured employee shall have worked in the employment in which he was working at the time of the injury, whether for the same or another employer, during substantially the whole of 13 weeks immediately preceding the injury, his average weekly wage shall be one-thirteenth of the total amount of wages earned in such employment during the 13 weeks;
(2) If the injured employee shall not have worked in such employment during substantially the whole of 13 weeks immediately preceding the injury, the wages of a similar employee in the same employment who has worked substantially the whole of such 13 weeks shall be used in making the determination under the preceding paragraph;
(3) If either of the foregoing methods cannot reasonably and fairly be applied, the full-time weekly wage of the injured employee shall be used;
(4) If compensation is due for a fractional part of the week, the compensation for such fractional part shall be determined by dividing the weekly compensation rate by the number of days employed per week to compute the amount due for each day;
(5) If the injured employee is a volunteer firefighter included under this chapter for volunteer fire-fighting services rendered to a county or municipality of this state or a volunteer law enforcement officer included under this chapter for volunteer law enforcement services rendered to a county or municipality of this state, such firefighter’s or volunteer law enforcement officer’s average weekly wage shall be deemed to be the Georgia average weekly earnings of production workers in manufacturing industries for the immediately preceding calendar year, as published by the Georgia Department of Labor;
(6) The average weekly wage of a member of the Georgia National Guard or State Defense Force serving on state active duty pursuant to an order by the Governor shall be the greater of:
(A) Seven-thirtieths of the monthly pay and allowances of the individual at the time of the injury, computed in accordance with Code Section 38-2-250, adjusted from time to time for appropriated increases in such monthly pay and allowances, excluding longevity increases; or
(B) If the injured member of the Georgia National Guard or the State Defense Force worked at the time of the injury in any employment other than serving as a member of the Georgia National Guard or the State Defense Force, the average weekly wage of the individual in such other employment as determined pursuant to paragraphs (1) through (5) of this Code section or, if such individual worked at the time of the injury for more than one employer, the average combined weekly wage of the individual in such multiple employment as determined pursuant to paragraphs (1) through (5) of this Code section.”
O.C.G.A. § 34-9-260
Temporary Total Disability Payments in Georgia Workers’ Compensation Law
While the disability to work resulting from an injury is temporarily total, the employer shall pay or cause to be paid to the employee a weekly benefit equal to two-thirds of the employee’s average weekly wage but not more than $675.00 per week nor less than $50.00 per week, except that when the weekly wage is below $50.00, the employer shall pay a weekly benefit equal to the average weekly wage. The weekly benefit under this Code section shall be payable for a maximum period of 400 weeks from the date of injury; provided, however, that in the event of a catastrophic injury as defined in subsection (g) of Code Section 34-9-200.1, the weekly benefit under this Code section shall be paid until such time as the employee undergoes a change in condition for the better as provided in paragraph (1) of subsection (a) of Code Section 34-9-104.
O.C.G.A. § 34-9-261
Temporary Partial Disability Payments in Georgia Workers’ Compensation Law
Except as otherwise provided in Code Section 34-9-263, where the disability to work resulting from the injury is partial in character but temporary in quality, the employer shall pay or cause to be paid to the employee a weekly benefit equal to two-thirds of the difference between the average weekly wage before the injury and the average weekly wage the employee is able to earn thereafter but not more than $450.00 per week for a period not exceeding 350 weeks from the date of injury.
O.C.G.A. § 34-9-262
Permanent Partial Disability Payment in Georgia Workers’ Compensation Payments
(a) Definition. As used in this chapter, “permanent partial disability” means disability partial in character but permanent in quality resulting from loss or loss of use of body members or from the partial loss of use of the employee’s body.
(b) Payment of benefits.(1) In cases of permanent partial disability, the employer shall pay weekly income benefits to the employee according to the schedule included within this Code section. These benefits shall be payable without regard to whether the employee has suffered economic loss as a result of the injury, except as herein provided.(2) Income benefits due under this Code section shall not become payable so long as the employee is entitled to benefits under Code Section 34-9-261 or 34-9-262.(3) If any employee is receiving benefits under this Code section and experiences a change in condition qualifying the employee for income benefits under Code Section 34-9-261 or 34-9-262, any payments under this Code section shall cease until further change of the employee’s condition occurs.(c) Schedule of income benefits. Subject to the maximum and minimum limitations on weekly income benefits specified in Code Section 34-9-261, the employer shall pay weekly income benefits equal to two-thirds of the employee’s average weekly wage for the number of weeks determined by the percentage of bodily loss or loss of use times the maximum weeks as follows:Bodily Loss ….. Maximum Weeks(1) Arm …… 225(2) Leg ….. 225(3) Hand ….. 160(4) Foot ….. 135(5) Thumb ….. 60(6) Index finger ….. 40(7) Middle finger ….. 35(8) Ring finger ….. 30(9) Little finger ….. 25(10) Great toe ….. 30(11) Any toe other than the great toe ….. 20(12) Loss of hearing, traumatic One ear ….. 75Both ears ….. 150(13) Loss of vision of one eye ….. 150(14) Disability to the body as a whole ….. 300(d) Impairment ratings. In all cases arising under this chapter, any percentage of disability or bodily loss ratings shall be based upon Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment, fifth edition, published by the American Medical Association.(e) Loss of more than one major member. Loss of both arms, hands, legs, or feet, or any two or more of these members, or the permanent total loss of vision in both eyes shall create a rebuttable presumption of permanent total disability compensable as provided in Code Section 34-9-261.
Ga. Code Ann. § 34-9-263
Loss of Hearing as a Result of On-the-Job Exposure and Payments for Loss of Hearing under Georgia Workers’ Compensation Law
(a) As used in this Code section, the term:
(1) “Harmful noise” means sound in employment capable of producing occupational loss of hearing as defined in paragraph (2) of this subsection. Sound of an intensity of less than 90 decibels, A scale, shall be deemed incapable of producing occupational loss of hearing as defined in this Code section.(2) “Occupational loss of hearing” means a permanent sensorineural loss of hearing in both ears caused by prolonged exposure to harmful noise in employment.
(b) Compensation based on 66 2/3 percent of average weekly wages, subject to limitations of Code Section 34-9-261, shall be payable for loss of hearing caused by harmful noise, subject to the following rules which shall be applicable in determining eligibility, amount, and period during which compensation shall be payable:(1) In the evaluation of occupational hearing loss, only the hearing levels at the frequencies of 500, 1,000, 2,000, and 3,000 cycles per second shall be considered. Hearing losses for frequencies below 500 and above 3,000 cycles per second are not to be considered as constituting compensable hearing disability. No consideration shall be given to the question of whether or not the ability of an employee to understand speech is improved by the use of a hearing aid. The board may order the employer to provide the employee with an original hearing aid if it will materially improve the employee’s ability to hear;(2) The percentage of hearing loss shall be calculated as the average, in decibels, of the thresholds of hearing for the frequencies of 500, 1,000, 2,000, and 3,000 cycles per second. Pure tone air conduction audiometric instruments, properly calibrated according to accepted national standards such as International Standards Organization (ISO) or American National Standards Institute, Inc. (ANSI), shall be used for measuring hearing loss. If more than one audiogram is taken, the audiogram having the lowest threshold will be used to calculate occupational hearing loss. If the losses of hearing average 25 decibels or less in the four frequencies, such losses of hearing shall not constitute any compensable hearing disability. If the losses of hearing average 92 decibels or more in the four frequencies, then the same shall constitute and be total or 100 percent compensable hearing loss. In measuring hearing impairment, the lowest measured losses in each of the four frequencies shall be added together and divided by four to determine the average decibel loss. For each decibel of loss exceeding 25 decibels an allowance of 1 ½ percent shall be made up to the maximum of 100 percent which is reached at 92 decibels. In determining the binaural percentage of loss, the percentage of impairment in the better ear shall be multiplied by five. The resulting figure shall be added to the percentage of impairment in the poorer ear, and the sum of the two divided by six. The final percentage shall represent the binaural hearing impairment;(3) There shall be payable for total occupational loss of hearing 150 weeks of compensation and for partial occupational loss of hearing such proportion of these periods of payment as such partial loss bears to the total loss;(4) Except in instances of preexisting loss of hearing due to disease, trauma, or congenital deafness in one ear, no compensation shall be payable under this Code section unless prolonged exposure to harmful noise in employment has caused loss of hearing in both ears as hereinafter provided;(5) No compensation benefits shall be payable for temporary total or temporary partial disability under this Code section; and there shall be no award for tinnitus or a psychogenic hearing loss;(6) The regular use of employer provided protective devices capable of preventing loss of hearing from the particular harmful noise where the employee works shall constitute removal from exposure to such particular harmful noise. No compensation benefits shall be payable for occupational loss of hearing caused by harmful noise if the employee fails to regularly utilize the employer provided protection device or devices which are capable of preventing loss of hearing from the particular harmful noise where the employee works;(7) The employer liable for the compensation in this Code section shall be the employer in whose employment the employee was last exposed to harmful noise in Georgia during a period of 90 working days or parts thereof; and an exposure during a period of less than 90 working days or parts thereof shall be held not to be an injurious exposure; provided, however, that, in the event an insurance carrier has been on the risk for a period of time during which an employee has been injuriously exposed to harmful noise and if after such insurance carrier goes off the risk said employee has been further exposed to harmful noise, although not exposed for 90 working days or parts thereof, so as to constitute an injurious exposure, such carrier shall, nevertheless, be liable;(8) An employer shall become liable for the entire occupational hearing loss to which his employment has contributed; but, if previous deafness is established by a hearing test or other competent evidence, whether or not the employee was exposed to harmful noise within six months preceding such test, the employer shall not be liable for previous loss so established, nor shall he be liable for any loss for which compensation has previously been paid or awarded. The employer shall be liable only for the difference between the percentage of occupational hearing loss determined as of the date of disability and the percentage of loss established by preemployment and audiometric examinations excluding, in any event, hearing losses arising from nonoccupational causes.
(c) No claim for compensation for occupational hearing loss shall be filed until six months have elapsed since exposure to harmful noise with the last employer. The last day of such exposure shall be the date of disability.
O.C.G.A. § 34-9-264
Payments Due Upon Death of an Employee
(a) When an employee is entitled to compensation under this chapter for an injury received and death ensues from any cause not resulting from the injury for which he or she was entitled to compensation, payments of the unpaid balance for such injury shall cease and all liability therefor shall terminate.
(b) If death results instantly from an accident arising out of and in the course of employment or if during the period of disability caused by an accident death results proximately therefrom, the compensation under this chapter shall be as follows:(1) The employer shall, in addition to any other compensation, pay the reasonable expenses of the employee’s burial not to exceed $7,500.00. If the employee leaves no dependents, this shall be the only compensation;(2) The employer shall pay the dependents of the deceased employee, which dependents are wholly dependent on his or her earnings for support at the time of the injury, a weekly compensation equal to the compensation which is provided for in Code Section 34-9-261 for total incapacity;(3) If the employee leaves dependents only partially dependent on his or her earnings for their support at the time of the injury, the weekly compensation for these dependents shall be in the same proportion to the compensation for persons wholly dependent as the average amount contributed weekly by the deceased to the partial dependents bears to the deceased employee’s average weekly wages at the time of the injury; and(4) When weekly payments have been made to an injured employee before his or her death, compensation to dependents shall begin on the date of the last of such payments; but the number of weekly payments made to the injured employee under Code Section 34-9-261, 34-9-262, or 34-9-263 shall be subtracted from the maximum 400 week period of dependency of a spouse provided by Code Section 34-9-13; and in no case shall payments be made to dependents except during dependency.(c) The compensation provided for in this Code section shall be payable only to dependents and only during dependency.(d) The total compensation payable under this Code section to a surviving spouse as a sole dependent at the time of death and where there is no other dependent for one year or less after the death of the employee shall in no case exceed $270,000.00.(e) If it shall be determined that the death of an employee was the direct result of an injury proximately caused by the intentional act of the employer with specific intent to cause such injury, then there shall be added to the weekly income benefits paid to the dependents, if any, of the deceased employee a penalty of 20 percent; provided, however, such penalty in no case shall exceed $20,000.00. For the purpose of this subsection, an employer shall be deemed to have intended an injury only if the employer had actual knowledge that the intended act was certain to cause such injury and knowingly disregarded this certainty of injury. Nothing in this subsection shall limit the effect of Code Section 34-9-11.(f) Each insurer or self-insurer which, in a compensable death case, finds no dependent or dependents qualifying to receive dependency benefits shall pay to the State Board of Workers’ Compensation one-half of the benefits which would have been payable to such dependent or dependents or the sum of $10,000.00, whichever is less. All such funds paid to the board shall be deposited in the general fund of the state treasury. If, after such payment has been made, it is determined that a dependent or dependents qualified to receive benefits exist, then the insurer or self-insurer shall be entitled to reimbursement by refund for moneys collected in error.
O.C.G.A. § 34-9-265
Georgia Workers’ Compensation Payment for Hernia and Death Therefrom
In all claims for compensation for hernia resulting from injury by accident arising out of and in the course of the employee’s employment it must be definitely proved to the satisfaction of the board (1) that there was an injury resulting in hernia, (2) the hernia appeared suddenly, (3) the hernia was accompanied by pain, (4) the hernia immediately followed an accident, and (5) the hernia did not exist prior to the accident for which compensation is claimed. All inguinal, femoral, or other hernias which are proven to be the result of an injury by accident arising out of and in the course of employment shall be treated in a surgical manner by radical operation. If death results from such operation, the death shall be considered as a result of the injury and compensation shall be paid in accordance with Code Section 34-9-265. In nonfatal cases, time loss only shall be paid unless it is shown by special examination, as provided in Code Section 34-9-202, that the injured employee has a permanent partial disability resulting from the operation. If so, compensation shall be paid in accordance with Code Section 34-9-263. In the event the injured employee refuses to undergo the radical operation for the cure of the hernia, no compensation shall be allowed during the time such refusal continues. If, however, it is shown that the employee has some chronic disease or is otherwise in such physical condition that the board considers it unsafe for the employee to undergo such operation, the employee shall be paid as provided in Code Section 34-9-262.
O.C.G.A. § 34-9-266