Hurt on the job? Learn about the kinds of benefits you could receive from workers’ compensation
Workplace injuries are a common risk in many industries. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were approximately 77,500 non-fatal workplace injuries in Georgia in 2018. The state also reported 186 workplace-related fatalities.
If an employee suffers an injury or becomes ill directly involving the workplace, they are entitled to certain workers’ compensation benefits. This supplemental income helps cover the cost of medical treatment and care, in addition to finances and other expenses that the worker might incur. This money can alleviate some of the stress surrounding your injury.
However, the benefits are limited according to the type of compensation. Here are the different types of Georgia workers’ compensation benefits.
Lost wages (indemnity benefits)
The state of Georgia recognizes 4 categories of benefits pertaining to loss of wages:
- Temporary Total Disability (TTD) — For a limited time, these benefits replace lost wages in the event that an employee is unable to work due to illness or injury.
- Temporary Partial Disability (TPD) — These benefits replace lost income should the malady or injury cause the employee to work light-duty only or if their working hours have been reduced.
- Permanent Partial Disability (PPD) — These benefits take over after the TTD or the TPD benefit timeline has expired. The employee must also be considered permanently partially impaired by a physician.
- Permanent Total Disability (PTD) — These benefits are paid to workers who suffer some type of permanent physical loss. The length of time the benefits are awarded depends on the injury.
Continue reading for more information about each of these types of indemnity benefits.
Temporary total disability (TTD) benefits
In Georgia, ailing or injured employees are entitled to receive workers’ compensation benefits when the physical condition prevents them from working for a minimum of 7 days. This compensation doesn’t go into effect until after the 7th day of unemployment. But, individuals receive retroactive payment for the first week should the problem persist for 21 consecutive days. They must also undergo evaluation by a team of physicians to confirm the diagnosis of temporary total disability.
Employees understandably commonly wonder: “How much is my workers’ comp case worth?” TTD benefits equate to two-thirds, or 66 percent, of the employee’s normal weekly wages. As of July 1, 2019, the maximum amount of payment anyone may receive was set at $675 weekly. The minimum amount an employee may receive is $50 weekly.
Compensation continues until the individual reaches the “maximum medical improvement,” or MMI. This phrase refers to the maximum level of healing or improvement the employee experiences. Under the majority of circumstances, the benefits continue for up to 400 weeks from the date of the illness onset or injury occurrence. An exception applies in the event that the individual suffers a traumatic brain injury, an amputation, paralysis or severe burns.
Temporary partial disability (TPD) benefits
Depending on the severity of the injury, an employee may receive a temporary partial disability classification. Under the diagnosis, healthcare providers commonly restrict the number of work hours or work days allowed during recuperation. The restriction might also entail an alteration in the type of physical work allowed, such as light duty.
The compensation amount for an employee on light-duty or fewer working hours is two-thirds the difference between the previous weekly salary and the wages earned after the event. The maximum that an employee may receive is $450 weekly. The payments continue for up to 350 weeks from the date of the event.
Permanent partial disability (PPD) benefits
Permanent partial benefits are paid to workers who suffer some type of permanent physical loss. The diagnosis may entail a permanent back injury, the loss of a limb, visual impairment or similar serious injuries. Once treated and confirmed by physicians, the employee may receive 66 percent of their normal weekly wage up to $675.
The length of time the benefits are awarded depends on the injury according to the American Medical Association guidelines which explain the evaluation of permanent impairment. The schedule of maximum time for workers’ compensation settlements in Georgia are as follows:
Type of injury
Maximum weeks of compensation
|Loss of small toe||20 weeks|
|Loss of great toe||30 weeks|
|Loss of small finger||25 weeks|
|Loss of a ring finger||30 weeks|
|Loss of a middle finger||35 weeks|
|Loss of a thumb||60 weeks|
|Hearing loss in 1 ear||75 weeks|
|Loss of a foot||135 weeks|
|Hearing loss in both ears||150 weeks|
|Vision loss in 1 eye||150 weeks|
|Loss of 1 hand||160 weeks|
|Loss of 1 arm or leg||225 weeks|
|Total body disability||300 weeks|
When the employee reaches MMI, a physician must re-evaluate the case to determine if any level of disability remains. The findings must be expressed in terms of a percentage for each body region involved.
If the worker has a permanent or total disability, they are eligible to receive ongoing weekly payments for the remainder of their life at the temporary total disability rate. However, employees also have the option of choosing to receive compensation in a lump sum. Examples falling under this category include suffering blindness in both eyes or losing 2 limbs.
Permanent partial disability: scheduled vs. unscheduled
When the partial disability is deemed as being permanent, the monetary compensation is the same as the amount employees receive for temporary total disability. However, the benefits are limited in time. The length of payment is calculated by the percentage of disability for each affected limb or body region multiplied by the maximum number of weeks illustrated in the state’s fee schedule. Disabilities listed by the state are referred to as “scheduled.”
In the event that the permanent disability is not listed (“unscheduled”) and involves the head region, the spine or internal organs, the benefits are based on the percentage of disability multiplied by 300 weeks, which represents the maximum amount for the body as a whole. The same statutes apply for an individual who is determined to have a permanent partial disability secondary to an occupation-acquired illness. However, the compensation is not calculated based on the partial loss of a body part or sensory loss.
Permanent total disability (PTD) benefits
Injured employees receive disability benefits until they reach maximum medical improvement (MMI). At such time, a physician may determine that the disability is total and permanent. The amount of money awarded equates to what an employee might receive according to the temporary total disability schedule.
However, the benefits continue for the rest of the worker’s life. The loss of more than 1 limb or suffering total blindness are examples of severe injuries that qualify for permanent total disability.
In addition to wage loss payments, workers’ compensation benefits pay for all necessary and reasonable medical treatment arising from the work-related injury or illness. The treatment or therapy provided must be performed by an authorized practitioner.
Injured employees must immediately inform their supervisor or employer of the injury to begin the workers’ comp process and seek medical treatment. According to Georgia Code § 34-9-201, employers must provide the injured worker with a minimum of 6 healthcare providers to choose from. Employees are also allowed to seek the opinion and treatment from 1 additional provider within the network.
Injured workers must file a claim explaining the accident, the extent of the injury, the treatment received and the practitioner’s recommendations. Generally, workers’ compensation insurance reimburses employees for:
- Ambulance fees
- Emergency room treatment
- Physician’s fees
- Medical testing
- Prescription medications
- Assistive and therapeutic equipment
- Physical therapy
Medical benefits may extend for 400 weeks unless the event occurred before July 2013 or involves a catastrophic injury. Additional exceptions include prosthetic device replacement or long-term medical equipment.
Rehabilitation and career training
In the event that an injury doesn’t allow an employee to return to their previous occupation, they may receive compensation to learn a new skill. In this way, the worker is capable of becoming employed, albeit in another capacity or industry.
Survivor death benefits
In the event that a workplace-related accident causes the death of an employee, the surviving family members are entitled to compensatory benefits. The fatality may occur immediately during the accident or occur later despite medical intervention.
Families might also be entitled to benefits if the injury exacerbated an existing condition or illness to the point of death. The family may receive up to $7,500 for funeral expenses. They may also receive their deceased loved one’s pay for up to 33.3 years.
If the family members were totally dependent on the individual’s wages, the amount they receive is calculated according to the total temporary disability schedule. However, $270,000 is generally the maximum amount that a surviving spouse may receive if there are no other dependents.
Another type of cost covered by Georgia workers’ compensation benefits include the distance traveled to and from appointments to see medical practitioners.
When to consult a Georgia work injury lawyer
Although the time and amount of workers’ compensation are pre-determined by Georgia law, an injured employee may have the option of filing a third-party lawsuit unrelated to the workers’ compensation system when desiring reimbursement for pain, suffering or other types of losses. Even when a workers’ compensation claim seems straightforward, an insurance company or employer might try to deny or contest an injured worker’s claim, putting them in a bad spot financially.
Anyone who suffers an injury while on the job must know their rights under the law in Georgia. By consulting with our Macon workers’ compensation lawyers, workers or their surviving family dependents better understand the types and amounts of benefits to which they are entitled.
Workers’ compensation benefits remain complicated and may pose undue frustration for those who pursue awards without obtaining legal counsel. It’s not uncommon for insurance companies to find a way to offer decreased compensation. Without legal assistance, an employee or their family may unknowingly accept a substantially reduced settlement.
If you have any questions or concerns, we invite you to schedule a visit with one of our Georgia work injury lawyers to learn more about your rights under the law.