It is inconvenient and devastating to get injured while at work. The suffering, pain, endless battle with the employer regarding who is at fault for the accident, and countless doctor appointments and mounting bills is overwhelming for one person to handle by themselves. This is why you need a Macon Workers’ Compensation Lawyer to help you relieve some of the stress. At Calvin Smith Law, our personal injury lawyers will give you all the support you need.
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What Is Workers Compensation?
According to Georgia Workers Compensation law, if a person or worker is injured while at work, they are entitled to:
- Medical treatment, including hospital stay, which the employer’s insurance will cover
- Physical therapy
- A temporary total disability benefits (you will be required to stay out of a job for a specified time)
- All necessary travel expenses
The worker is also eligible for getting vocational rehabilitation. You should note that Workers’ Compensation laws vary from state to state, which is why it is important to talk to an experienced attorney from Georgia.
Which Are The Common Reasons For Worker’s Compensation?
The sad truth is that an injury can occur at any time while at work. The most dangerous or jobs with a high injury probability is a construction site. The Occupational Safety Hazard Administration works very hard to monitor and find new ways to try ending the 4 fatal hazards of death, which are falling objects, caught in between, falling, and electrocution.
Below are common workplace injuries:
- Slip and fall
- Construction accidents
- Joint pain
- Back and neck injuries
- Tool and machine-related accidents
- Hearing loss
Georgia Compensation FAQs
According to the law, all employers in Georgia having three or more employees must have an insurance cover for medical bills, and an employee should receive a certain percentage of their wages when they injure an injury or when they are out of work.
If a worker is killed due to a work-related accident, the spouse or dependent children are eligible for compensation. Sometimes an injury may involve a third party. In this case, it is often as a result of another person and not the employer (like a sub-contractor of a construction site, maintenance contractor, or factory conductor). Well, it does not matter how the injuries occurred; our attorney will be there and explain your legal options.
For this reason, we get a lot of questions regarding their cases. Below are the frequently asked questions.
What Should I Do After A Work Injury?
The first and immediate thing to do after a work injury is to inform the employer. According to the law, a person is given 30 days to do that. Infarct, there is a high probability the manager or employer already knows. It is wise to contact an attorney after this. The law also mentions that it is not mandatory to provide a statement to the employer or insurance company. Infarct, at Calvin Smith Law firm, we strongly advise against it, because anything you say may be used against you. Remember, the primary aim of a Workers’ Compensation is getting a worker or employee to full health.
Does My Employer Have Worker Compensation?
The truth is that it is a challenge to know if your employer has workers’ comp, especially if you have not been a beneficiary of it. Lack of knowledge is the reason that prevents cases from being filed each year. As a matter of fact, many employees think that workers’ comp is only available to those working in big companies.
How Can I Know If My Employer Has Worker’s Compensation Insurance?
This may not be an option depending on your company’s structure. However, in the state of Georgia, it’s a legal requirement for all employers with more than 3 employees to have. This law applies to every kind of business, even small businesses.
If, for example, you are working for a sub-contractor and he/she does not have worker’s compensation insurance, then the main contractor may be held accountable. If this situation applies in your case, contact us as soon as possible. A Calvin Smith Lawyer will talk to you and give you the best legal option to take and guide you through the whole process.
What Worker’s Compensation Benefits are Available?
Georgia Workers’ Compensation State Board offers Employees Handbook showing the benefits workers are entitled when they are injured. Some of these benefits include:
When an employee is injured while at work, they are entitled to a reasonable medical benefit. These benefits will include rehabilitation, hospital visits, surgeries, doctor’s visits, medications, and much more. With this cover, you do not have the right to choose your own physician but have the ability to choose from a provided list.
If your injuries are forcing you to miss work, you are entitled to get income benefits. This cover is only available for those who missed work for more than 7 days because of injuries. If, for example, you miss going to work for 21 days, you will get pay for the first seven days. If the injuries are serious, then you may get pay until you get back to work.
In some cases, the injuries sustained may lead to a wrongful death claim. If this is the case, dependents (a spouse or children) will receive death benefits. These benefits include lost wages and burial/funeral expenses.
What Steps Should I Take After Experiencing an Injury at Work?
After a work accident, a person may become and overwhelm and feel confused by the whole ordeal. As such, there are cases where a person felt embarrassed, and this made them feel like the best option is going home with their injuries while misrepresenting the seriousness of the damage. In some cases, the last thing an employee will want to do is ‘rock the boat,’ especially if there are many people interested in the job.
All you have to remember is that time is paramount after being involved in a workplace accident. Below are the steps a worker should follow:
Report the Injuries to the Supervisor or Manager
The first step to take is verbal notification and then later document everything with a letter or email. Doing this will help your lawyer provide proof that you complied no-matter the way the employer handles the issue.
Seek Medical Attention
The second step is seeking medical attention. Remember, your words will be used in the case, and it is important to provide credibility. You can only do this by visiting a licensed medical professional. You can also use an in-house medical team if your employer near Macon has one.
If this option is not available to you, consider going to a clinic, hospital, or emergency room. In some cases, you will need to be examined by a doctor provided by your employer. While at the doctor, disclose all the symptoms you may have and even show the damages you have on your body. Ensure everything has been documented properly.
Contact a Worker’s Compensation Attorney
After or while undertaking medical check-up and treatment, contact a workers’ compensation attorney. They will take the process from there and help you protect your rights. The attorney will ensure all bases are covered for your claim.
NOTE: The first thing your attorney will do is file a Form WC-14, which is an official claim notice.
The Process Of Filing A Workers’ Compensation Claim
To ensure your rights for benefits claim is protected, you should begin taking action as soon as possible. Infarct, it would be wise to start immediately after the accident. The last thing you want to do is forfeit your right to get compensation due to delays. The moment you get injured, it is your responsibility to report the matter immediately. Just as the steps above clearly shows, you should inform your employer first.
After reporting the matter to your employer, the law demands that they should file the Occupational Disease Form or The First Report of Injury. Failure to do this on time will lead to civil penalties. On the other hand, if they fail to report the matter, you can take legal advice within the shortest time possible.
The other option is filing the claim with the Workers’ Compensation State Board, and you have only one year to do this from the day of the accident.
The Reasons Time Is Important During The Claim Process
It is important to be fast with the filing the claim. One of the biggest mistakes people do is think they have a lot of time to file a worker’s compensation claim. Others think that they have the money to sustain them during the healing process after the accident – maybe because they want to leave things as they are.
Therefore, if you want to file a workplace injury claim, it is paramount to note that in Macon, GA, you do not have all the time in the world. As a matter of fact, this is the first thing your lawyer will tell you. As such, you should expect fast actions when you have hired an attorney. It is important to note that when the window of opportunity closes, it cannot be reopened again. Therefore, if you fail to act fast, you may end up losing the opportunity to file it ever again. Workplace accident claims have only a grace period of 30 days, which is one month only. This is indeed a short time to file a claim, especially when you are injured, because the window may close before you even get the opportunity to do anything about it.
Why Should I Hire A Workers’ Compensation Attorney?
A workers’ compensation is designed to benefit everyone involved, and this is from the employer to the insurance carrier. However, there are cases where an insurance carrier denies a claim. The moment you feel like the insurance carrier is reluctant to give you the compensation you are entitled, call us immediately. We will help you get started with the whole process of getting compensation.
Lately, it has become common knowledge about how some employees are involved in workers’ compensation fraud. This is something that insurance companies know too well. If it happens when an employee fakes or exaggerates their injuries, all with the aim of getting a pay-out from an insurance company. This has resulted in some insurance companies demanding concrete proof of injuries. A majority of insurance firms may be reluctant to pay out simply because it is not in their best interest to do so.
An employer can also deny a claim because of the fear of premium increase. As such, many of them try to decide to either cover-up the incident and pretend like it did not happen. However, when you decide to seek the services of an attorney, your chances of getting the benefit you deserve increases significantly, compared to what you may get if you decided to do it on your own.
An attorney is going to offer assistance in several ways, like gathering of evidence, which will make your case stronger. It is important to note that this will include a medical report, safety reports, and even witness accounts where possible. If, after collecting all the information needed and the claim is still denied, the next step the lawyer will take is filing an appeal with the Workers’ Compensation Board in Georgia to demand the benefits to be paid.
Of course, the first thing an attorney does is look at the facts of the case and determine whether to seek additional damages due to the injuries sustained. In the state of Georgia, the compensation covers lost wages, medical treatment, permanent or temporary disability funds, and others. If a third-party is responsible for the accident, then the attorney will consider filing a lawsuit against the third-party. This can either be a manufacturer of defective equipment or tool, which has resulted in the accident.
How To Appeal A Denied Claim?
If the claim is denied by an insurance carrier responsible for the workers’ compensation or the employer, you have the legal right to take legal action. To protect your right and ensure your interests are safeguarded, then it would be wise to work with our skilled Macon Workers’ compensation lawyer. They are fully capable of handling the process of appealing a denied claim.
You will receive a notification sent by the Workers’ Compensation State Board the moment your claim is denied. The notification will mention the grounds in which and why your claim was denied. When this happens, you have the right to request a hearing before the board.
During the hearing, you will be given an opportunity to present your evidence supporting your claims of compensation. There are shreds of evidence you will need to present to the board, such as expert testimony (from a licensed medical professional), your testimony, testimony from witnesses, and any other evidence that may help you in your case. The hearing will happen before a sworn judge, who is going to make a decision regarding your compensation claims.
If, for example, the decision issued by the judge is not in your favor, the claim process is not yet over. You can decide to file an appeal with the Appellate Division of the Workers’ Compensation State Board insurance. The appeal must be filed within the next 20 days after receiving a claim denial notification.
Is Workers’ Compensation Available To Independent Contractors?
In Georgia, independent contractors do not have workers’ compensation cover. As such, it has made it easy for employers to classify their workers as independent contractors to avoid paying for the workers’ compensation cover. However, if you are an independent contractor, there are other ways to be eligible for the benefit. Some of these ways include:
- If the contractor is not controlling their work conditions personally
- If the contractor is receiving a structured work schedule from a third party
- If a company, individual, or entity is dictating the means by which the contractor completes the job
We at Calvin Smith Law, our lawyers are going to work with you to determine if your employer misclassified you. If then this is the case for you, we will go ahead and start the whole filing a claim process for you.
Can I get Workers’ Compensation for Pre-existing Injuries?
There are some employees who believe that they are not going to succeed in filling a claim simply because they had pre-existing injuries. For example, assuming that the employee had a pre-existing back pain problem, the employee may be afraid to file a claim after a work-related accident because the employer may claim that the medical condition already existed before the accident.
Well, the good thing is that in the state of Georgia, the law protects such people, and such a person is still entitled to get a workers’’ compensation benefit. It does not matter if they already had a pre-existing condition; you will still get compensation. Excluding such people, then it means that no one is going to be protected by the law when seeking compensation.
What If The Work-Related Accident Was My Fault?
When it comes to workers’ compensation benefits, it does not matter if you or your employer is the cause of the accident, you are entitled to get compensation benefits. For example, let us assume that your injuries are a result of slip and fall on a wet floor because the machine you were operating was leaking water or oil. You are still entitled to get compensation benefits, even though you may be responsible for the injuries. In other words, according to the Georgia workers’ compensation law, a person is still eligible for compensation benefits, even if they were somehow responsible for the injury. This law is there to simply protect every worker, even when they play some role in the accident.
Unlike many insurance claims, this system does not use the ‘No-Fault’ basis for determining if a person qualifies for compensation benefits. However, it also comes with some exceptions. According to the Workers’ Compensation Act in Georgia, compensation cannot be claimed for injuries or deaths that resulted from alcohol intoxication or working while under the influence of either controlled or non-controlled substances.
Therefore, this simply means that if the worker or employee was drunk or high when the incident happens, their claims would be denied. However, the presence of alcohol or drugs in your system does not automatically mean that a person cannot recover compensation. You will only receive compensation only if you prove that the accident would have occurred even if you were sober. Doing this will show that the cause of the accident wasn’t because you were intoxicated.
Can I Also File A Personal Injury Lawsuit?
The sad truth is that you cannot sue your employer for personal injuries, even if the employer was directly at fault for the accident. This is one of the disadvantages of the ‘No-Fault’ system. The Workers’ Compensation System in Georgia offers immunity from these types of lawsuits. In a nutshell, you cannot file for a personal injury claim, even if the accident was due to negligence. This law also applies to cop-workers, whereby you cannot sue them even if they are the reason the accident occurred.
However, you can file a personal injury claim against a third party (who is not a co-worker or employer). In other words, if the negligence of a third party led to your injuries, you can file for personal damages against them aside from also a workers’ compensation claim.
Talk to a Macon Workers’ Compensation Attorney Today
If you have sustained injuries due to a work-related accident, do not hesitate to contact Calvin Smith Law. We are ready to help you get your life back on track and get the compensation you deserve for your injuries. Our lawyers are ready to give you the best legal action based on your case. Call us today at (404) 383-7552 to schedule your free consultation at our Macon injury firm.