You are eligible for workers’ compensation in Georgia from the day you start your job. This gives you a right to medical care and weekly pay if you’re injured at work. This system is designed to protect employees and help them recover from their injuries without incurring financial costs.
Unfortunately, employers and their insurance companies don’t always want to pay the money you are owed.
However, they know the complicated rules inside and out, so you’ll need a good workers’ compensation lawyer in Columbus, GA, on your side from the start.
What Is Workers’ Compensation?
Workers’ compensation insurance is a system to ensure injured employees always get the care they need without expensive lawsuits. The Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation is built to help you get the necessary benefits to compensate for lost work. The benefits it gives you include:
- Medical treatment: All reasonable and necessary medical expenses related to the injury are covered, including doctor visits, hospitalization, surgeries, physical therapy, prescription medications, and other costs.
- Take-home pay: If your doctor takes you out of work for a week or more, you receive temporary pay while you recover. The amount is two-thirds of your regular paycheck, up to a state maximum, and tax-free. You may qualify for an additional payment if you have a permanent injury.
- Physical therapy: If your workplace injury requires physical therapy, it is included in the medical treatment you receive.
- Necessary travel expenses: You will be reimbursed at a rate of 40 cents per mile for all travel to and from doctor or hospital visits, pharmacies, tests, and other medical-related trips.
In some cases, you may also be eligible for vocational rehabilitation. You may also qualify for a “partial disability” payment when your recovery is complete.
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What to Do After a Workplace Accident
While there is no one-size-fits-all guide to handling workplace accidents, there are some steps you can take to increase your chances of getting the benefits you deserve.
Anything you can do to ensure your employer and their insurance provider know the extent of your injuries will help you secure much-needed compensation.
After a workplace accident, you should:
- Ensure you’re okay: Your safety is the most important thing in any scenario. If you need medical attention, get it as soon as possible, and remove yourself from any dangerous situation that can turn worse.
- Notify your employer: The first step to getting benefits is letting your employer know you’ve been injured. Don’t pretend you’re fine or downplay your injuries. If you seem to have fewer damages, you’ll receive less compensation.
- File your claim: This is the most important part of your workers’ compensation process. Filing your claim accurately and on time can mean getting your compensation as fast as possible.
- Follow up with medical treatments: Go to your approved medical provider whenever needed and follow through with any recommended procedures or therapies.
- Get a skilled lawyer: Any step in the process can present problems. A workers’ compensation attorney in Columbus, GA, will help.
When you need assistance with your workers’ compensation, whether it’s a question during the application or a denial of benefits, our legal team will help. In addition, we offer free consultations to help you understand the situation before hiring a lawyer.
How Much Is the Average Workers’ Compensation Settlement?
No two workers’ compensation cases are the same. Because of that, everyone’s settlement will differ based on various factors surrounding the accident. Factors that might affect your settlement include:
- Where you were injured
- Whether you can work again
- How much you were making before the accident
- Your past and future medical bills
- Your age
Generally, the most you can get from workers’ compensation is $650 per week, and the longest you may receive it is 400 weeks or eight years. Unfortunately, most people don’t receive that much for that long.
A lawyer will help you determine how much your workers’ compensation settlement is worth. At your free initial consultation, one of our lawyers can walk you through your claim and tell you what to expect.
What Sorts of Injuries Are Covered By Workers’ Compensation?
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employers reported nearly 80,000 workplace illnesses and injuries in Georgia’s private industry in 2019. This leads to an incidence rate of 2.5 cases for 100 full-time workers, while the national average rate is 2.8, which is significantly higher.
Workers’ comp claims are most common in the construction field. The leading causes are falls, electric shock, being struck by a falling object, or getting caught in or between equipment. However, accidents happen in every kind of work. Some common causes include:
- Back and neck injuries
- Burns or scalds
- Hearing loss
- Joint pain
- Accidents while traveling for business
- Accidents while working with machinery or tools
More injuries are covered by workers’ compensation, so even if you’re not sure, it’s worth scheduling a free consultation about your claim. Our workers’ compensation lawyers in Columbus, GA, will assess your situation and determine if you can file a claim.
Does Workers’ Compensation Cover Emotional or Psychological Injuries?
You must have a physical injury to file a workers’ compensation claim. Emotional trauma alone does not qualify, even though it can have serious and lasting consequences.
If the emotional trauma is connected to a physical injury at work, you qualify for treatment as part of your benefits. For example, if someone in your workplace assaulted you, you could file a claim for physical and psychological injuries.
What If the Injury Occurred on the Way to Work or Somewhere Off-Premises?
We often see employees who got into an accident while driving to work. The answer is complicated. In general, injuries during your commute to work are not covered.
Normally, workers’ compensation starts when you step onto your employer’s property. This could be a parking lot that your employer owns, a sidewalk on the company campus, or when you walk through the front door.
There are, however, cases where off-premises injuries are covered, including:
- Going on an errand for work as directed by your employer
- Going to off-site meetings
- While talking with a client, supervisor, or colleague on your cell phone
- While driving a company vehicle
- During paid travel
If the insurance company has wrongly denied your claim, you still have hope. A personal injury lawyer can build your case and pursue compensation after a denial.
Do I Have to Sue My Employer?
No. In Columbus, you cannot sue your employer for an injury that happened on the job. Workers’ compensation is the only way to get the benefits you need in most cases, and it is a much quicker process than a lawsuit.
We talk to many employees who don’t feel right about “blaming” or harming their employer. However, you are not harming anyone with workers’ compensation. Your employer already pays for insurance, and you are simply getting a fair reimbursement of your costs, guaranteed by law.
Your employer cannot terminate your employment or take any action against you at work because of your injury or claim. However, if they have, you may take legal action. Talk to one of our Columbus workers’ compensation lawyers to determine your options.
Is There a Time Limit to File a Workers’ Compensation Claim in Georgia?
Yes, there is a very strict set of deadlines under workers’ compensation law. In Georgia, you have 30 days to report your injury to your employer, or you cannot file a claim. The claim must generally be filed within a year of the injury, according to the Official Code of Georgia Annotated (OCGA) § 34-9-82(a).
In some cases, there are longer timeframes, but they are rare. The longer you wait, the more difficult your claim may be. Employers will argue that you would have known sooner that an injury had serious effects.
We have represented hundreds of injured workers. We know that it often takes weeks, months, or even years to see the full extent of an injury. We also know that most workers don’t want to get involved in a legal process unless necessary.
Talk to a Columbus, GA, Workers’ Compensation Lawyer for Free
At John Foy & Associates, we believe every injured employee has a right to workers’ compensation benefits. Let us help you. We have over 20 years of experience helping workers and their families get the necessary benefits. We always take the side of the worker, never big companies.
Your health is your greatest asset, and you are legally guaranteed these benefits. Speak to a lawyer and ensure you get the full amount.
The Columbus, GA, workers’ compensation lawyers at John Foy & Associates will give you a 100% free consultation and help you decide how to proceed with your claim. So don’t lose your workers’ compensation benefits. Call us or fill out the contact form to your right and get your FREE consultation today.