Commonly asked questions about work injury claims in Georgia
Wear and tear happen to your body no matter what industry you work in. Work accidents, however, are the exception.
What happens after you’ve been hurt on the job while doing what you’re supposed to be doing?
That’s when workers’ compensation comes into play.
You likely have a lot of questions about this process. An experienced lawyer can be a great asset when going through this journey and they can help you get the compensation you deserve. While every case is different and unique, here are some general answers to questions you might have.
If you have an accident on the job, then you should file for workers’ compensation. Workers’ comp is an accident insurance program paid for by employers with benefits that include income, medical and rehabilitation. You receive these benefits while recovering from your injury. Workers’ compensation also provides benefits to dependents if the employee dies from work-related injuries.
In Georgia, generally you must file a claim within 1 year of the date of the injury—or 1 year from the date you last received medical treatment for the job-related injury that was paid for by your employer. To do this, fill out the Form WC-14 and file it with the State Board of Workers’ Compensation. This claim protects the rights of employees. Workers’ comp insurance covers employees from the first day on the job.
Q: How long can you receive workers’ compensation in Georgia?
After 1992, income benefits are limited to 400 weeks, unless the claim qualifies for a “catastrophic” designation. Whether or not the injured worker has a disability has no bearing on whether or not they can receive income benefits past the 400 week cap.
Q: Is workers’ comp required in Georgia?
Yes, workers’ compensation is required in Georgia. The state requires every business with 3 or more employees to have insurance. The 3 employee requirement includes both full and/or part-time employees.
To verify a business, you can visit Georgia’s State Board of Workers’ Compensation website. Go to the Online Employer’s Workers’ Compensation Coverage Verification page. Scroll down on the page and click on “Click here to conduct an Employer Insurance Coverage Search.” After clicking on the link, you can check to see if your employer has workers’ comp insurance. All you need to know is your employer’s official business name or FEIN.
Q: How long do I have to report an injury at work in Georgia?
You should report your injury immediately, to someone in authority. The incident can be reported to a supervisor, foreman or boss. However, if you wait longer than 30 days, then you could risk losing your benefits.
Without timely notice, your employer might deny your workers’ compensation claim by saying that your injury occurred outside of work. The clock starts ticking to give notice after getting a diagnosis. However, a timely notice gives credibility to your claim.
Q: Can you be fired while on worker’s comp in Georgia?
Yes, you can be fired while receiving workers’ compensation benefits. An injury does not protect you from being fired from your job. Georgia is an employment-at-will state, which means an employee can be fired for any reason unless the person is a victim of discrimination or has an employee contract. So yes, your employer can fire you while getting medical treatment and receiving benefits for a work-related injury or illness.
Employment status is an important part of your workers’ compensation claim. If you receive job restrictions from an authorized doctor after an injury, then the employer must provide a job that accommodates these restrictions. When an employer cannot accommodate the restrictions, they must provide the employee with compensation benefits.
Q: When should I settle my workers’ compensation case?
Whether to settle or not depends on a number of factors, including whether or not the injured worker will require additional medical treatment, their ability to pay for that treatment absent workers’ compensation coverage for the treatment, their potential for returning to work for the employer of injury or some other employer, and their potential qualification for a catastrophic designation of their claim.
To determine the value of your claim and know when it’s the right time to settle, you should consult with an experienced workers’ comp attorney.
Q: What is the statute of limitations for workers’ compensation in Georgia?
The statute of limitations for workers’ compensation claims is found in the Official Code of Georgia Annotated. If the claim is not filed within the statute of limitations, then you forfeit your rights to benefits.
In the state of Georgia, an employee has 1 year from the date of the injury—or 1 year from the date the injured worker last received medical treatment for the job-related injury that was paid for by the employer—to file a claim. Also, an injured worker may be able to file a claim within 1 year of the date they last worked, if they continue to work after the injury but were later forced to stop working due to the injury and its effects on their ability to work.
There are a handful of rare exceptions to this rule.
For instance, if you are requesting a resumption of income benefits, you will have 2 years from the last date the last payment of income benefits “was actually made” to file a request for hearing seeking a resumption of income benefits.. If no claim is filed within the 2-year deadline of the date income benefits were “actually paid,” then the injured worker is forever barred from seeking additional income benefits because of that injury.
Q: Can you go to your current doctor?
In order for medical treatment to be covered by workers’ compensation, the injured worker must give their employer the opportunity to provide treatment by offering a “panel of physicians” and allowing the injured worker to choose a provider off the list.
If an injured worker doesn’t give their employer the opportunity to provide treatment before they seek treatment from a doctor of their choice, the employer will not be held responsible for the cost of that treatment. The employer’s right to control treatment is a quid pro quo for the employee’s right to receive treatment at no cost to them.
If you do not show up for medical examinations, you could lose your workers’ compensation benefits.
Q: Do you have to stay in Georgia to continue receiving benefits?
No, you do not have to stay in Georgia. You can relocate to another state and your weekly benefits will be transferred to your new location. The insurance company also must provide you with a doctor near your current address.
Q: What does workers’ compensation cover?
This insurance program covers expenses for a work-related injury. These expenses may include hospital bills, ongoing medical care, lost wages and funeral expenses (for wrongful death).