Workers’ compensation insurance covers almost all employees in the state of Georgia. Therefore, if you become injured at work, you are entitled to receive certain benefits while you recover. This fact likely provides some comfort, but you might wonder exactly how workers’ compensation payments work after an on-the-job injury in Georgia.
Our lawyers explain how workers’ compensation payments work and what gets included in them. First, let’s look at what you can actually receive through Georgia workers’ compensation, then break down how to receive the payments you deserve.
Workers’ Compensation Benefits in Georgia
If you become injured or ill because of a work-related accident, workers’ compensation can provide you with:
- Medical benefits
- Supplemental income
- Rehabilitation support and
- Death benefits for your dependents if you die from a work-related injury or illness
As long as you have proof of these damages, the insurance company will pay you a settlement that covers all of them.
Workers’ compensation should pay for the total value of medical expenses related to your workplace accident. That includes costs like:
- Doctor visits
- Hospital stays
- Tests and procedures
- Prescription medications
- Ongoing future medical treatment, such as physical therapy
The purpose of workers’ compensation benefits is to help you return to work. To have your medical costs covered, you will need to choose your doctor from a panel of authorized physicians provided by your employer under the Official Code of Georgia Annotated (OCGA) §34-9-201.
If you don’t go to one of these listed physicians after your injury gets reported, your costs may not get covered. However, if you need immediate medical treatment after your injury, you can go to the nearest urgent care or emergency room.
Workers’ Compensation Supplemental Income
You can receive weekly income benefits if you’re away from work for over seven days because of your injuries. These are paid at two-thirds of your average weekly earnings, which can be up to $675 per week. However, you typically cannot receive these benefits for over 400 weeks, and most workers recover far before that time.
Sometimes, a work injury can prevent you from returning to work as you could before. In addition, you might have new limitations that affect your current job. Employees with catastrophic injuries are eligible for vocational rehabilitation benefits to help them adjust to a new job or line of work.
If a worker dies from a work-related injury or illness, their dependents can receive two-thirds of what they earn, capped at $150,000. Death benefits may also cover funeral and burial expenses.
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How Georgia Workers’ Compensation Payments Work
Once seven days have passed and you cannot return to work, you are eligible for weekly supplemental income. You cannot receive compensation for these first seven days unless you are unable to work for 21 consecutive days after your injury, according to OCGA §34-9-220. In that case, you will get compensated for that first week.
Here’s what to know about the payment schedule for workers’ compensation in Georgia:
- Your first income benefits should get paid 21 days after you report your injury to your employer.
- After that, you should get paid weekly income benefits unless the Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation (SBWC) has authorized a different schedule.
- Your benefits may get paid by cash, check, electronic funds transfer, or some other method agreed upon by both you and your employer.
- If you do not receive an agreed-upon payment as scheduled, let your employer know right away.
As mentioned above, you can receive two-thirds of your weekly income up to $675 per week. There is also a minimum of $50 per week and a maximum duration from the date of injury of 400 weeks. The only exception to the 400-week max is for workers who have a catastrophic injury. A catastrophic injury may make you eligible for lifelong benefits.
Types of Payments for Workers’ Compensation
The above benefits are known as permanent total disability benefits because you are temporarily disabled from working. The intention with these payments is to provide income support until you are well enough to return to work.
However, sometimes you cannot continue working in the same capacity. Below, we’ll cover how other types of workers’ compensation payments work in Georgia.
Temporary Partial Disability Payments
If you can return to work after your injury but take a lower-paying job, you may receive temporary partial disability benefits. These are paid at two-thirds of the difference in wages before and after your injury, capped at $450 per week and for up to 350 weeks.
Permanent Partial Disability Payments
After you have recovered as much as possible with treatment, your doctor will evaluate you for a disability. If you are found to be disabled, you may be eligible for further benefits.
A permanent partial disability means the loss or loss of use of a party of your body. Through permanent partial disability, you are paid weekly income benefits at two-thirds of the weekly income you were earning for a certain period of time, based on the type of disability you have.
For example, the maximum amount of time you can receive permanent partial disability for an arm or leg loss, or loss of use, is 225 weeks. For loss, or loss of use, of a great toe, which is a much smaller body part, the maximum is 30 weeks. You will want to work with a Georgia workers’ compensation lawyer to discuss your eligibility for permanent partial disability and what you deserve.
Permanent Total Disability Payments
If you lose more than one major body part, such as both arms, hands, or feet, or lose vision in both eyes, you are eligible for permanent total disability. Depending on the details, these benefits may be payable for life.
Lump-Sum Payments for Georgia Workers’ Compensation
After you have received benefits for at least 26 weeks, the SBWC may determine it’s in your best interest to receive a lump sum payment. For example, this may happen if you are expected to experience extreme hardship or significant rehabilitation needs because of your injuries. Sometimes, you may need to seek a lump sum settlement through workers’ compensation to account for your future medical and income requirements.
While workers’ compensation weekly payments can help, they are often not enough for injured workers who require long-term or permanent treatment and assistance. It’s best to talk with a Georgia workers’ compensation lawyer from the beginning to help you seek the best compensation for you.
You Have a Limited Amount of Time to File a Workers’ Compensation Claim in Georgia
Most personal injury cases generally have two years to file a claim. However, you have only one year for workers’ compensation claims, and sometimes even less, depending on the circumstances.
Don’t assume that you have all the time in the world. In fact, the longer you wait, the more the insurance company will likely think that your workplace injury wasn’t that serious. So after you get hurt, it’s best to take action as soon as possible so you can get the maximum amount of compensation available.
Get Help from a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer
Workers’ compensation claims tend to be straightforward, however, there are times where your employer or your insurance company refuses to cooperate. They may give you a hard time and try to offer you only the bare minimum amount of compensation that doesn’t even scratch the surface of the damages you sustained.
When you encounter issues like these, it’s best to hire an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer. Even though workers’ compensation cases almost always resolve out of court, that doesn’t mean a lawyer can’t help you fight back to get the best settlement possible. Don’t ever settle for less after getting hurt on the job.
Talk to a Workers’ Compensation Attorney in Georgia for Free Today
If you have other questions about how workers’ compensation payments work or need help with your case, contact John Foy & Associates today. Unfortunately, insurance companies often make it difficult to know exactly what you need and deserve to fully recover.
Our lawyers have been helping injured workers get the compensation they deserve for over 20 years. We can evaluate your case and discuss the best options for you. Call or contact us online to get started with your free consultation.