Almost all employees in the state of Georgia are covered by workers’ compensation insurance. 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.
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)
Workers’ comp should pay for the full 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’ comp benefits are 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 (Georgia Code § 34-9-201). If you do not go to one of these listed physicians after your injury is reported, your costs may not be covered. However, if you need immediate medical treatment after your injury, you can go to the nearest urgent care or emergency room.
Workers’ Comp Supplemental Income
If you’re away from work for over seven days because of your injuries, you can receive weekly income benefits. These are paid at two-thirds of your average weekly earnings—up to $675 per week. 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. 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 the worker was earning, capped at $150,000. Death benefits may also cover funeral and burial expenses.
How Georgia Workers’ Compensation Payments Work
Once seven days have passed and you are unable to 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 (Georgia Code § 34-9-220). In that case, you will be compensated for that first week.
Here’s what to know about the payment schedule for workers’ comp in Georgia:
- Your first income benefits should be paid 21 days after your injury has been reported 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 be 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.
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 are not able to 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 are able to return to work after your injury but you must 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 loss (or loss of use) of an arm or leg 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’ Comp
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. This may happen if you are expected to experience extreme hardship or great rehabilitation needs because of your injuries.
Sometimes, you may need to seek a lump sum settlement through workers’ comp to account for your future medical and income needs. While workers’ comp weekly payments can help, they are often not enough for injured workers who require long-term (or even lifelong) treatment and assistance. It’s best to talk with a Georgia workers’ compensation lawyer from the beginning so they can help you seek the compensation that is best for you.
Talk to a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer in Georgia for Free Today
If you have other questions about how workers’ comp payments work or need help with your case, contact John Foy & Associates today.
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 us today and we’ll do this during a FREE consultation and case evaluation. Call (404) 400-4000 or contact us online to get started with your FREE consultation.