A work-related injury can cause you a lot of physical pain and emotional suffering. You might also worry about having to take time off work and how you’ll continue paying your bills, especially if your injury leaves you with a disability. Thankfully, workers’ compensation is available to most employees.
Workers’ compensation covers medical costs and provides weekly income supplementation while you recover. Many injured workers wonder if they can get pain and suffering with workers’ compensation. Unlike personal injury claims, workers’ compensation is more limited and does not cover pain and suffering.
You’re Entitled to Workers’ Compensation Benefits
As an employee for any company or business with three or more employees, by law, you receive coverage for workers’ compensation insurance provided by your employer. It’s illegal for any business or company to have more than three employees and not have workers’ compensation readily available.
It doesn’t matter how you get hurt. Workers’ compensation doesn’t work in the same way as standard personal injury cases. Regardless of fault, you can receive benefits for your medical treatment and lost wages. However, for pain and suffering, things get complicated.
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Understanding Pain and Suffering
“Pain and suffering” is the legal term for both physical and emotional stress you might experience because of an accident. It depends on how the pain or lifestyle changes resulting from your injuries have affected your quality of life.
Pain and suffering are a category of general damages in personal injury claims. Examples of pain and suffering can include:
- Anxiety or depression
- Inability to do things you used to enjoy or loss of enjoyment of life
- Scarring or disfigurement
- Emotional distress
- Fear, anger, or humiliation
For example, after a car accident, the victim might experience a lot of pain and frustration when trying to perform simple tasks as they did before. Or, someone who has been badly burned in a workplace accident may suffer embarrassment or humiliation in social situations because of their disfigured appearance.
In short, anything that decreases your quality of life because of physical injuries falls under pain and suffering.
Workers’ Compensation Is Different From Insurance Claims
While pain and suffering damages are available in a personal injury case, it, unfortunately, does not work the same way with workers’ compensation claims. Workers’ compensation was set up to make the claims process easier between employees and their employers.
In a workers’ compensation claim, your benefits are typically limited to:
- Compensation of medical costs
- Weekly wage benefits (if your work injury prevents you from working for at least seven days)
- Rehabilitation benefits
- Death benefits (for your dependents if you get killed from a work injury)
For example, you cannot sue your employer for workers’ compensation benefits, and you do not have to prove fault to receive compensation. While these workers’ elements often compare benefits, it comes with a tradeoff: you cannot receive pain and suffering compensation through a workers’ compensation claim.
Obtaining Compensation for Pain and Suffering Through Workers’ Compensation
The fact that workers’ compensation does not cover pain and suffering is frustrating for many injured workers. Many work injuries cause immense pain that can leave you with physical and emotional turmoil. Sadly, the inability to seek pain and suffering is one of the limitations of workers’ compensation.
Even though pain and suffering damages aren’t available from a work injury, you should work with an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer to seek the full benefits you are entitled from your work accident. Getting medical compensation and supplemental income can help ease your stress as you get treatment and recover from your injuries.
Situations Where Pain and Suffering May Be an Option
Although pain and suffering are not legally available in a workers’ compensation claim, there are situations where you may be able to seek these damages from a third party in your work accident.
For example, say you are operating a vehicle while on the clock for your job, and another vehicle crashes into you. You suffer serious injuries. You would already have a workers’ compensation case since the injuries happened while performing your job duties. You might also have a personal injury case against the other driver.
Serious auto accident injuries can easily lead to damages for pain and suffering. You should contact an experienced lawyer right away to discuss your options. You will likely be able to file a personal injury claim against the at-fault driver, and that may include seeking compensation for pain and suffering damages.
How to Protect Yourself After a Painful Work Accident
Even though there are limits on what you can receive through a workers’ compensation claim in Georgia, the benefits you can get will help decrease work-related discrepancies as you recover. The best thing you can do is know your rights and protect yourself during the claim process.
Here are some ways you can legally protect your rights and seek the best compensation after a work accident.
Report the Accident
According to the Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation (SBWC), you have 30 days to report your work injury to your employer. However, you should do so as soon as possible after the accident happens.
If you wait too long to report your injury, you could lose your chance at benefits. It’s also harder to remember the details of what happened and demonstrate your injuries as time goes by.
Contact a Georgia Workers’ Compensation Lawyer
Although workers’ compensation cases should be straightforward, they are rarely as stress-free as you’d think. For example, the insurance company or your employer might try to downplay your injuries or look for ways to reduce the timeline of your disability benefits.
To avoid getting taken advantage of and to make sure you are seeking the full benefits you’re entitled to, contact an experienced Georgia workers’ compensation lawyer right away. Most workers’ compensation lawyers do not take any upfront fees and only get paid if they win your case, so you can begin working with them risk-free.
File Your Workers’ Compensation Claim
You will need to complete and file a Form WC-14 with the SBWC and send a copy to your employer and their insurance company. If you need help doing this, a workers’ compensation lawyer can assist you.
Get Treatment for Your Injuries
After you report a work injury, your employer should provide you with a panel of physicians to choose from for treatment. These doctors are under your employer’s workers’ compensation policy. Make sure you see an authorized physician and follow their treatment instructions.
Keep track of all expenses you face from your work accident, including medical bills and days missed from work. Also, if you can, take pictures of your injuries and the accident scene. Anything you can compile may be helpful if you experience issues with your claim.
Statute of Limitations for Workers’ Compensation Claims
Even though you should report your workplace injury to your employer within 30 days, the Official Code of Georgia Annotated (OCGA) § 34-9-82 gives you only one year to file your workers’ compensation claim. This is half the time of typical personal injury claims made against insurance companies.
In general, you don’t have a lot of time to get the benefits and compensation you deserve. So, while we don’t encourage you to rush every step, we want to emphasize that time isn’t on your side. After you get medical treatment, it’s always best to get help and start your claim as quickly as possible.
Talk to a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer in Georgia for Free Today
John Foy & Associates has been helping injured workers get the benefits they need and deserve for over two decades. We know how to handle workers’ compensation cases and fight for your legal rights. Call us for a free, no-risk consultation and case evaluation or contact us online today.