Learn the steps in filing a workers’ compensation claim in Georgia
Being hurt on the job can cause lasting pain or permanent disability. How long you will be out of work and how you will care for your family and pay your bills can cause distress for yourself and your loved ones.
Workers’ compensation (or “workers’ comp”) is an accident insurance program paid by your employer. These benefits may provide you with medical and income resources if you are injured. Regardless of whether your injury was caused by someone else or if it was your own fault, you are entitled to these benefits through your employer and the state of Georgia.
The following can be covered by the workers’ compensation program:
- Medical bills
- Reimbursement for lost wages
- Travel expenses
- Vocational retraining
- Death benefits
All employers in the state of Georgia who employ 3 or more full-time, part-time or seasonal employees must provide workers’ compensation benefits.
Employers must also provide a workers’ bill of rights visible to employees. Employers who do not provide workers’ compensation insurance for their employees can be held civilly and criminally responsible and face heavy fines.
There may be exceptions for federal employers. Federal compensation benefits available to federal workers do not include railroad workers, members of the armed forces, black lung coal workers, harbor workers or longshoremen.
What to do if you’ve been injured on the job in Georgia
When you’ve been hurt during the course of work, follow these steps to get the most workers’ compensation available.
Step 1: Notify your employer.
Immediately notify your employer so that full and proper details of the accident and your injuries can be properly documented. Reporting your workplace accident to your employer after 30 days may result in losing your eligibility for workers’ compensation.
Step 2: Seek medical attention.
Seek medical attention after the accident has occurred or as soon as possible. It’s common for hardworking people to downplay injuries that can actually cause long term pain or physical impairment after weeks or years. It’s best to get checked out immediately to rule out internal damage or other injuries.
Step 3: Complete the WC-14 form.
You must obtain a WC-14 Workers’ Compensation Claim Form from the State Board of Workers’ Compensation and provide a copy of the completed form to your employer and your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier. You can obtain this form on the Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation website, from your employer, or by calling the local Macon, Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation. This form must be submitted within 1 year of the initial date of injury.
Step 4: Document your expenses.
Document your time off of work due to your injuries. Keep track of the doctors you visit, the progress you have made (if that applies) and how your injury affects your daily life.
Step 5: Get legal advice.
Seek legal advice from a Georgia workers’ comp lawyer so that you understand the entire process. Some forms and deadlines must be met for the workers’ compensation program so that you receive the benefits you are entitled to. If you incapacitated due to your injuries or are facing financial stresses, the process can seem overwhelming.
When to consult a workers’ compensation lawyer
There may be many reasons why a workers’ compensation claim in Georgia is denied, such as:
- The injured employee did not notify their employer within the deadline required, which is 30 days from the date of the initial injury.
- The injured employee did not complete and return their WC-14 form to the Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation office within the deadline, which is 1 year from the date of the initial injury.
- The injured employee’s employer has not filed the proper paperwork or has omitted required information.
- The injured employee’s employer may dispute the injury or claim the injury did not occur at work.
- The injured employee has falsified documents to the Workers’ Compensation Benefits office when filing their claim.
If you are initially denied benefits from the Workers’ Compensation Benefits program, you are entitled to an appeal on your case. Having a Georgia workers’ comp lawyer on your side who not only specializes in how to file a claim but also how to file appeals and win could mean the difference between worry and peace of mind for you and your family.