If you’re injured at work, you are likely eligible for workers’ compensation benefits through your employer. When your injuries are serious enough to prevent you from returning to your job for a certain period of time, you should be able to receive a certain percentage of your normal paycheck as compensation.
You should know that no matter what the insurance company offers you, you may have other options. If the initial offer is not enough, a workers’ compensation lawyer can help you seek a settlement that better covers your medical treatment costs.
Type of Pay You Can Expect After an Injury at Work
There are typically four types of benefits you can get after an injury at work:
- Weekly compensation
- Permanent impairment benefits
- Medical benefits
- Rehabilitation support
The benefits you receive will depend on the details of your injuries and how they impact your ability to work.
Weekly Workers’ Compensation Benefits
If your work injury prevents you from working for more than seven days, you should be eligible for weekly compensation benefits. In Georgia, these are paid at two-thirds (or 66%) of your average weekly wage (AWW) and cap out at $575 per week (Georgia Code §34-9-261). This amount may vary in other states, and the weekly cap can change per year.
Your AWW is calculated by figuring your average earnings over a certain number of weeks prior to your work injury.
So, workers’ compensation benefits do not provide full pay while you’re away from work for your injuries—but they do account for two-thirds of your regular wage.
Partial Disability Payments
If you have a partial disability, meaning you are assumed able to perform light or part-time work, your benefits will be calculated slightly differently. What you receive would be calculated by subtracting your current earnings (or earning capacity) from your previous AWW. Then, that number would be multiplied by two-thirds.
For example, if you were previously making $1,000 per week and can currently earn $600, the difference would be $400, and two-thirds of $400 would be $240 per week for partial disability benefits.
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How Long You Can Get Paid For After a Work Injury
The amount of time you can receive these weekly benefits depends on the severity of your disability. Your disability must be classified as:
- Temporary or permanent
- Total or partial
This means you could have a:
- Temporary total disability or temporary partial disability where your injuries are still recovering and you’re expected to get better
- Permanent total disability or permanent partial disability where your condition is not expected to improve
If you have a partial disability, it means you have the ability to perform some types of work (typically, light or sedentary activities). Total disability means you are unable to work at any type of job.
Permanent Impairment From Being Injured at Work
Permanent impairments that are not expected to get better, such as loss of limb or another body part, permanent back injury, or loss of hearing, are sometimes referred to as reaching maximum medical improvement (MMI). When you are permanently impaired from a work accident, you are typically able to pursue longer and higher benefits.
Permanent impairments may receive a rating that helps determine how much compensation the injured worker will receive. To qualify for long-term benefits, your impairment will have to affect your ability to work as you did before. The Summary of State Board of Workers’ Compensation Provisions provides benefits depending on which body part is affected.
Timeline for Weekly Payments After a Work Injury
Depending on how seriously you were injured, you might qualify to receive weekly workers’ compensation for up to 400 weeks from the date of your injury. Otherwise, you may continue to receive benefits until you are able to return to work.
Other Pay You Can Receive if You Were Injured at Work
If you are injured at work, you are entitled to have any necessary medical treatment paid for. This includes costs or transportation to and from appointments and vocational rehabilitation if you are unable to return to your previous job.
However, it’s common to run into issues if your employer or the insurance company believes your treatment has gone on too long or the treatment you’re receiving is not acceptable, such as alternative treatments.
If the insurance company thinks your treatment is not necessary or reasonable, they may refuse to pay for it. You would then need to fill out a WC-14 form with the Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation. It’s also a good idea to consult with a workers’ compensation attorney who can help you fight for your rights.
Your Legal Rights if You Were Injured at Work
You are legally allowed to pursue a workers’ compensation claim without fear of retaliation from your employer. A workers’ compensation lawyer can ensure your legal rights are protected against your employer and their insurance company. These rights include:
- Your right to file a claim for your injury or illness in workers compensation court or Georgia civil court
- Your right to medical treatment
- Your right to return to your job if you are released to return to work by your physician
- Your right to disability compensation if you are unable to return to work, whether permanently or temporarily, because of your injury or illness
- Your right to appeal the decision of your employer, their insurance company, or the court
- Your right to be represented by an attorney
In understanding your rights, as an employee, it is also important to understand your right to refuse certain requests or offers. For example, if your employer encourages you to use your own health insurance or offers you some incentive in an attempt to persuade you against filing a workers compensation claim, you have the right to say, no.
Damages You Could Be Compensated for if You Were Injured at Work
Workers’ compensation in Georgia will only cover a portion of your damages from the accident, and it’s likely the extent that you need or are eligible to receive. A lawyer can make sure you do not overlook any recoverable damages, will calculate your total compensation, and help you collect money for:
- Medical expenses, such as supplies, surgery, and medications
- Income lost, past and future
- Pain and suffering, including emotional trauma
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of enjoyment
Talk to a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer for Free Today
After being injured at work, you have the right to seek benefits from your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance. While workers’ comp may not pay the full amount you were making before, it should cover a portion of your weekly pay, and you may be able to seek higher compensation through a settlement.