Accidents that happen in the workplace are known for the devastating consequences they can bring. Events of this sort regularly produce painful and agonizing injuries and can also sometimes prove fatal. The ongoing medical expenses and legal wrangling that frequently result are daunting to try and face on your own. If you are among those who have experienced serious harm while on the job, do not fear. An experienced Mableton workers compensation lawyer stands ready to help.
The team of talented, knowledgeable Mableton injury lawyers with our firm understands what it takes to succeed and will fight for every dollar of financial recovery to which you are entitled. That way, you can focus on what’s important, namely, your physical and mental healing process.
Facts About Workers’ Compensation
Anytime an employee is injured while on the job, he or she has a right to receive the following under Mableton, Georgia, Workers’ Compensation laws:
- Medical care, including inpatient stays, prescription drugs, and other needs, paid for by the employer’s insurance carrier
- Short-term, total disability payments if the injured worker cannot return to the job for a specific time period
- Transportation expenses
- Physical therapy services
Injured workers may also be able to receive coverage for vocational rehabilitation services. Of course, workers’ compensation provisions are state-specific, and that is why it is important to work with a seasoned Georgia attorney with a strong track record of practice in this realm of the law.
Circumstances Requiring Workers’ Compensation Payments
Regardless of how careful we might be while on the job, injuries and accidents occur in all sorts of work environments. Work carried out on construction sites, though, is known to be among the most dangerous occupations in which an individual can be engaged. Construction site injuries are closely monitored by OSHA, and the goal is to lower the overall tally of injuries and deaths stemming from what is referred to as the “Fatal Four,” namely, electrocutions, slip and falls, falling objects and accidents in which a worker is caught in between two objects.
Some of the most common job-related accidents in general include:
- Accidents occurring during business travel
- Construction site incidents
- Equipment and machinery-related accidents
- Slip and falls
All of the above accident types frequently result in:
- Back and neck injuries
- Hearing loss
- Bone fractures
- Traumatic brain injuries
What To Do Following A Workplace Injury
Prior to doing anything else, let your employer know about the harm you have suffered. Keep in mind that you only have 30 days to inform employers of injuries suffered and the nature of the accident that caused them. Once you speak with your employer, the best course of action is to get in touch with an experienced attorney. Workers are not always aware of the fact that employees are not in any way required to sign statements or submit to making a recorded testament of what happened. As such, it is wise to have a lawyer who can ensure that your employer does not try to force you to make statements that could be used against you later.
The purpose of Workers’ Compensation is to assist injured individuals in returning to health. By taking the right actions following a workplace injury, you can improve your chances of receiving all of the compensation necessary to make that happen.
Do All Employers Provide Workers’ Compensation Benefits?
Perhaps you are curious as to whether your particular employer is subject to Workers’ Compensation rules and whether you are eligible. The fact is, that many people wonder the same thing. Sadly, there are many workplace injuries that are never reported simply because workers are unfamiliar with their rights when it comes to Workers’ Compensation.
Lots of folks assume that Workers’ Compensation is something available only to individuals working for major corporations. This is not the case, and it is important to keep reading to learn even more about what Workers’ Compensation actually entails and who can benefit from it.
Georgia law provides that any employer with over three workers must carry Workers’ Compensation insurance. Thus, even small enterprises are required to have coverage in the event a workplace accident occurs.
Should you be among a group of handypersons or technicians who work for a sub-contractor who lacks this type of coverage, it is possible that the general contractor will be held responsible for carrying such insurance. If you are uncertain as to whether or not your employer has Workers’ Compensation insurance, contact Calvin Smith Law to discuss the situation with an attorney who can provide advice about your specific situation.
Available Workers’ Compensation Benefits
A great resource for learning about benefits available to those injured on the job is the Employee Handbook published by the Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation. Among the benefits potentially available to those injured in the workplace are:
Healthcare Benefits: When a worker suffers an injury on the job, they will be able to receive a reasonable level of medical benefits. These benefits encompass payment for doctor visits, surgical procedures, hospital stays, rehabilitation costs, and other expenses. It should be noted, though, that the injured worker will not be able to select their own physician, but will have to choose from a list of providers designated by the Workers’ Compensation insurance carrier.
Lost Income: When workers have to stay off the job because of harm suffered while at work, income benefits are available. Of course, these payments are only offered to those who have been forced to miss at least seven days of work due to the injuries sustained.
Workers who must remain off the job for over 21 days due to an injury can receive payment for those initial seven days as well. In cases of severe injury, it is possible to receive payment for all days of work missed. But, if you had an accident at work that was non-catastrophic in nature, it is possible to get income payments for up to 400 weeks. Those receiving income benefits under Workers’ Compensation will get a payment equal to two-thirds of their normal weekly wages.
Payment Of Death Benefits: There are sadly times when workplace accidents result in death. In such cases, dependents of those who have died are able to receive death benefits that could encompass funeral costs as well as lost income compensation.
What To Do In The Aftermath Of A Workplace Injury
The immediate aftermath of a workplace accident can be a frightening, painful and overwhelming time. Some employees may even be hesitant to file a Workers’ Compensation claim due to concerns they will be ostracized. Others may simply try their best to minimize the seriousness of the harm suffered and continue with work as though nothing really happened.
Workers in highly desirable positions may even seek to downplay the pain they are suffering because they don’t want to lose their jobs. Though it is certainly important to protect your position, your mental and physical health are critical. If you have had a serious injury accident at work, there is no need to suffer on your own. Calvin Smith Law can help.
The following paragraphs offer some key steps injured employees should take when a workplace accident occurs.
Initially, you will need to report the incident as well as the injuries suffered to your direct manager and do so immediately. Let them know verbally what occurred, and then you can create documentation of the events in either an email message or a formal letter. Informing the employer of the injuries is a great way to assist your attorney in establishing that you followed proper protocol following the accident.
The next essential step to take following such an incident is to seek necessary medical treatment. Not only does this ensure that your physical needs are met, it will also help enhance credibility down the road because you will have reports from medical professionals to support your claim of injury.
Some employers may have in-house medical staff in place to handle examinations. If your employer is not among them, visit a nearby hospital, urgent care clinic, or emergency room. You should ask your employer first, however, because it may be necessary to see a company-approved doctor comply with proper injury claim procedures.
Be sure to inform your physician of any pains, symptoms or signs of concern you experience. Doing so will make certain that the full scope of your injuries is addressed and proven by the doctor.
The next thing to do is to get in touch with a highly-regarded Workers’ Compensation lawyer. A seasoned attorney can guide you through the process of documenting your claim and filling out an official notice of claim, known as form WC-14.
How To Pursue A Mableton Workers’ Compensation Claim
The worst thing an injury victim can do is compromise their chances of receiving payment through Workers’ Compensation insurance. As such, it is necessary to act promptly to preserve your right to benefits. Unnecessary delays should never be the reason your claim is denied. Following any workplace accident, you need to inform your employer within the next 30 days.
Once you have reported your injuries to your employer, the company is legally required to file a First Report of Injury or an Occupational Disease Form. Failure to do so can expose the employer to civil penalties. Should an employer refuse to make a report of your injuries, get in touch with a lawyer right away so that you do not run out of time to file your claim.
Alternatively, you can file your injury claim directly with the Georgia State Board of Workers Compensation, and there is a deadline of one year from the accident date to do so.
The Importance Of Timing To Your Claim
Prompt action is essential to the success of any Workers’ Compensation claim.
Far too many injured workers believe they have lots of time in which to file a claim for Workers’ Compensation benefits. This is not the case, and failing to act quickly can result in a loss of compensation to which you would otherwise be entitled. The timeframe is in fact limited, and you do not want to let your opportunity to receive payment pass you by. A skilled and knowledgeable Workers’ Compensation attorney will always advise promptness in cases of this nature.
Why Is A Workers’ Compensation Lawyer So Important?
Ultimately, Workers’ Compensation insurance is designed to help everyone involved in an injury scenario, including both the employer as well as employee. Unfortunately, insurance carriers can and do try to deny claims fairly often. When you believe that your employer’s insurance provider is fighting back against your claim, contact our firm so that we can get to work advocating on your behalf.
Insurance carriers are aware that workers sometimes exaggerate injuries and attempt to secure benefits via fraud. This could involve false reporting of the seriousness of harm suffered in order to receive a payment that is not deserved. It can be tough for carriers to determine which claims are real and which are fabricated, and that is why they are sometimes reluctant to pay even legitimate claims.
Employers may deny claims they think will result in increased insurance premiums in the future. There are some companies that attempt to pretend as though the event never even happened.
However, by working together with an experienced attorney, you boost your likelihood of securing the full amount of payments you need and deserve. Lawyers can assist in a number of ways, including evidence gathering, securing witness statements, and making persuasive arguments on your behalf.
Should your employer or company insurance carrier deny your injury claim, a lawyer can step up the pressure by filing an appeal directly with the Georgia Workers’ Compensation Board and work to get the benefits necessary for your recovery.
An attorney will take a close look at the facts underlying your injury claim to assess whether additional benefits are in order. Georgia Workers’ Compensation benefits can often include payment for partial or permanent disability as well as for lost wages.
When another party besides your direct employer played a role in your accident, your lawyer may contemplate filing a third-party claim against them. In such scenarios, you may be able to pursue recovery from heavy equipment manufacturers or operators of machinery that caused you harm.
How To Appeal Denied Claims
Are you having a problem with an employer or insurance carrier that is trying to deny your injury claim? If you answered yes, there are options for legal recourse available. In order to protect your interests, the key is to select a Workers’ Compensation lawyer who understands the system and knows what is required to prevail.
When a claim is denied, workers receive word from the Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation as well as an explanation of the decision. But, there is a right of appeal and the opportunity to ask for a hearing in front of the board.
In this way, you have a chance to present evidence that bolsters your compensation claim. Key evidence in this process can include things such as expert testimony, witness statements, medical reports, and more. Appeals of this nature are made in front of judges who will make a final determination of your claim’s status.
If you should happen to lose in front of the judge, there are still steps that can be taken. You can again appeal to the State Board of Workers’ Compensation Insurance Appellate Division. It is necessary to file such an appeal within 20 days of receiving the denial notice.
Can Independent Contractors Secure Workers’ Compensation Benefits?
Georgia law does not provide Workers’ Compensation eligibility for independent contractors. As such, many companies try to classify employees as independent contractors so that they can avoid liability for payment.
Luckily, there are ways in which an independent contractor can successfully claim eligibility for Workers’ Compensation benefits, including:
- Demonstrating that they do not have control over their own working conditions
- Showing that a third party creates their working schedules
- Demonstrating that another party has control over how the injured party does their job
The attorneys of Calvin Smith Law are ready and willing to collaborate with you and available witnesses to assess whether or not your employee deliberately miscategorized you as a contractor. If it is the case that such action was taken, we will go ahead and pursue a claim on your behalf.
Can Preexisting Injuries Impact A Workers’ Compensation claim?
It is common for workers to worry that their Workers’ Compensation claim may be negatively impacted by preexisting injuries. For instance, a worker who has a history of knee trouble may thing that their claim will be denied because an employer will say that their issues do not stem from the workplace accident itself.
The good news is that the law in Georgia is designed to protect those with preexisting health issues. Thus, employees can still receive benefits even if a workplace accident aggravates an injury they already had. Lots of folks have conditions with which they deal every day, and any effort to exclude them from Workers’ Compensation payments would simply undermine the reason the system exists in the first place.
What If An Employee Is Determined To Be At Fault?
In most cases, it is irrelevant who is to blame for causing a workplace accident. As an example, if you are operating a piece of machinery that leaks and you end up slipping and falling as a result, it could be argued that you are partially to blame. However, Georgia law provides that an employee in such a scenario would still be able to receive benefits.
Though no-fault concepts generally prevail in Georgia’s Worker’s Compensation system, there are certain exceptions. For instance, workers may not seek benefits when injury or death is caused by alcohol intoxication or work done while under the influence of drugs.
Thus, a worker who was intoxicated by drugs or alcohol at the time of their workplace accident faces a chance of having their claim denied. But, it is possible to seek benefits if it is possible to show that the incident was not caused by the aforementioned intoxication.
Can I Pursue A Workers’ Compensation Claim And A Personal Injury Lawsuit?
A downside to Georgia’s system of no-fault Workers’ Compensation is that employees are not permitted to sue an employer for workplace accidents, even if that employer was at fault for what occurred. Georgia has granted immunity against employee lawsuits if Workers’ Compensation benefits are paid. This principle is also applicable to colleagues, in that a worker cannot sue a co-worker, even if they were at fault for the harm sustained.
It should be noted, though, that injured workers can sue third party actors for harm suffered on the job. As an example, a manufacturer of equipment used on the job site may be sued if that machinery was to blame for a workplace accident. Under such circumstances, both a civil lawsuit and Workers’ Compensation claim can be filed by the injured employee.
Speak With A Seasoned Mableton Workers’ Compensation Lawyer!
If you have had the misfortune of suffering a workplace injury of any kind, now is the time to contact Calvin Smith Law. We are prepared to leave no stone unturned when it comes to securing the compensation you need in order to fully recover and reclaim your physical and mental health. Attending to medical needs while attempting to pursue Workers’ Compensation benefits can be a difficult burden indeed, so call our Mableton injury firm today and let us get to work for you.