Being injured while on your job can be not only inconvenient but also devastating. The countless medical bills, the pain and suffering, and the constant battle with your employer over who’s fault the accident was. In case you were injured in a job, don’t let it stress you. Get in touch with a Roswell workers compensation lawyer today.
At Calvin Smith Law, our Roswell personal injury lawyers are professionals in the field and understand exactly what to do, meaning that you can focus your energy on making a full recovery.
What is Workers Compensation?
If a worker is injured on the job, the law in Roswell, Georgia, entitles them to:
- Medical treatment, including hospital stays, with the employer’s insurance covering it
- Necessary travel expenses
- Temporary or total disability benefits in case you’re forced to spend time out of your job for a given amount of time
- Physical therapy
The injured employee may also be entitled to receiving vocational rehabilitation. Keep in mind that the laws on workers’ compensation usually vary from state to state, which is why it’s wise to talk to a lawyer who specializes in this field.
What are the Common Reasons for Workers’ Compensation?
Work injuries can happen in any kind of industry. However, one of the most dangerous industry is construction, which is perhaps not a surprise. OSHA (Occupational Safety and Hazard Administration) monitors the on-job injuries really carefully to make sure the “Fatal Four” causes of death in the workplace are averted. These include falls, electrocutions, and being struck by or caught in an object.
Here are the 10 most common injuries:
- Neck/back injuries
- Joint pain
- Construction accidents
- Hearing loss
- Slip and fall accidents
- Accidents while traveling for business
- Accidents when working with machinery or tools
What Should I Do Immediately After a Work Injury?
The first thing you want to do is informing your employer about your injury. You have 30 days to do it, though it’s likely that a coworker or a supervisor contacted the manager already. It’s strongly recommended that you get in touch with an attorney after that. Based on Georgia law, you don’t need to provide a recorded statement to the insurance company or your employer. At Calvin Smith Law, it’s advisable that you don’t give out a statement because it’s easy for the defendants to turn it against you.
The purpose of a workers’ compensation claim is to get you back on your feet and in full health. However, you might find yourself being pressured to go back to your job before you’re ready.
Is Worker Comp Available From Your Employer?
If you’ve never been a beneficiary of it, you might not even know if your employer has workers’ compensation. The one thing that prevents a large number of cases from being filed every year is the lack of knowledge about workers’ compensation law.
Many people think workers’ compensation only applies to the large companies and big corporations, or that it comes as an “employee perk” along with other benefits.
How Can You Know if Your Employer Has Workers’ Compensation Insurance?
Based on the structure of the company, it might not be an option for you at all. In Georgia, employers with three or more employees are required to have workers’ compensation. Even for small businesses, they’ll need to get this coverage in case they employ three or more employees.
In case you’re working for a subcontractor that hasn’t taken up workers’ compensation coverage, the actual contractor could be held liable for the coverage.
In case the conditions above don’t apply in your specific situation, you should contact Calvin Smith Law as soon as possible so that you can start consultations with an expert attorney who can provide the necessary guidance and advice about your case.
What Benefits Are Offered By Workers’ Compensation?
The Georgia state board of Workers’ Compensation Employee Handbook details the kind of benefits that a worker injured while at work is entitled to. Some of the key benefits that a worker injured in their workplace can get include:
If a worker is injured while working, they’re entitled to a reasonable amount of medical benefits, and these include doctor visits, hospital visits, surgeries, rehabilitation, medications, and more. While you won’t have the right to choose your own physician, you can still choose from a list of pre-selected by the workers’ compensation insurance provider.
In case you’re forced to miss work because of the injuries you sustained, you can claim income benefits. These benefits are available for the workers who have missed more than seven days due to the accident. In case the says extend to over 21 days, you can get pay for the first 7 days of work. In case it was devastating, you can receive benefits for the time that you’ve been unable to get back to your job. For non-devastating accidents, the benefits can be paid for 400 weeks.
Some workplace accidents result in death. If this is your case, you should know that dependents can get death benefits, which include burial and funeral expenses along with lost wages.
For those eligible for income benefits, it will be equal two-thirds of your weekly wage, ideally until the allowed maximum amount.
What Steps Should I Take After Suffering a Workplace Injury?
In case you’re involved in an accident, it’s normal to get overwhelmed by the pain and confusion, as well as pain and anxiety. In some instances, a person can feel even embarrassed. This can make you feel like the best option is to go on with your shift and underrepresent the severity of your injuries, or even fail to disclose the injury.
For most employees, the last thing on their mind is “rocking the boat”, especially in cases where the position they hold is competitive and there’s a list of people interested in it or waiting for a chance for the employer to start hiring.
Don’t forget that timing is key if you’re involved in a workplace accident that results in injury. Below are the key steps you need to take:
Report the incident to the manager or supervisor as soon as possible. Verbal notification should ideally be the first thing and then document it in a letter or email. This will help your attorneys have an easier time proving that you complied no matter how the employer handled the issue.
Seek medical attention. While your words will be used in your case, your credibility will be fortified by a licensed medical professional. Your employer might have an in-house medical team who can offer an on-site examination of the injuries. If this is not the case for you, be sure to go to the emergency room, clinic, or hospital.
In some cases, you might have to be examined by a doctor that is specifically approved by your employer. Disclose all of your associated symptoms and any showing signs of injury to make sure that all of your injuries have been properly documented and more importantly addressed by a healthcare professional.
Contact a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer. Your lawyers will be able to help you through the necessary steps. This includes the kind of information to share with your doctor and employer and to ensure that all bases are covered.
With an expert attorney by your side, you will be able to file a Form WC-14 claim effectively, which is the official claim notice.
Filing a Claim for Workers’ Compensation Claims
To make sure that your rights are well protected, you should start taking action as soon as possible following the workplace accident. The last thing you need it mistakenly forfeiting your rights just to get compensated quickly, or just because you delayed.
It’s up to you to report the accident immediately you’re injured. You are actually required to report the incident to your employer within 30 days following the injury.
After you’ve reported the accident to your employer, they will be required by law to file an Occupational Disease Form or a First Report of Injury. In case they refuse to do so, they are basically risking civil penalties. In case they don’t report the injury accordingly, your best bet is to get yourself legal counsel as soon as possible. Otherwise, time could run out easily without you even knowing.
Alternatively, you can file the claim with the State Board of Workers’ Compensation, and the time limit for this is a year from the time of the accident.
Why Time is Important When Dealing with the Claims Process
It’s vital to act quickly when it comes to filing a claim. A common mistake among many victims is assuming that they have enough time to file a workers’ compensation claim. However, it often never ends well. You might be under the impression that you have money to keep you protected following the accident; maybe you want to avoid “rocking the boat” by filing a claim to seek compensation.
To handle a workplace injury properly, it’s important to know that you don’t have the luxury of time. Any workers’ compensation lawyer will advise you that prompt action is critical because the window of opportunity can be closed, never to be reopened again. In fact, failure to report the workplace injury within 30 days of the accident might have the window closed forever before you even get the chance of doing anything about it.
Why Should I Hire an Attorney for Workers’ Compensation?
The main purpose of workers’ compensation is to benefit everyone involved – from the employer to the insurance provider. However, there are times where the insurance company will do their very best to deny the claim at hand. If you notice your employer and their insurance carrier getting reluctant to give you the compensation you deserve, consult with our lawyers because we can help you kickstart the process of pursuing your compensation.
Insurance companies are well aware that some employees try to game the system and commit workers’ compensation fraud. This usually occurs when an employee makes fake claims or exaggerate their claims to enable them to get a payout from the insurance company. Insurance companies might be reluctant to pay out simply because it’s not in their best interest to do so.
Employers can also deny claims because they fear it will increase the premiums that they payout or they decide to cover up the accident and outright deny that the accident happened in the first place. Working with an expert attorney significantly increases tour chances of getting the benefits you deserve in comparison to what you’d typically get if you went out on your own.
Your lawyer will help you handle the case in a number of ways. They can help you gather evidence to strengthen your case, including medical records, safety records, and even witness accounts where possible. If the claim is still denied with all this information, the next step is for your attorney to file an appeal with the Workers’ Compensation Board in Georgia to demand benefits.
Your lawyer will be able to look at the facts surrounding the case and establish whether you can pursue additional damages for the injuries you sustained in the workplace accident. In Georgia, the compensation can cover lost wages, medical treatment, and provide permanent or partial disability funds.
In case there’s another entity responsible for your injuries that is not your employer, then your attorney might consider filing a lawsuit against the third party. A third party can be for example a manufacturer of defective equipment that may have contributed to the accident.
How to Appeal a Denied Claim
In case your claim is denied by the insurance company responsible for providing workers’ compensation coverage to your employer, you can take legal action. To safeguard your interests, ensure that you work with an experienced Workers’ Compensation Lawyer in Roswell, as they will be able to handle the entire process of appealing a denied claim.
The State Board of Workers’ Compensation will send you a notification as soon as your claim is denied, and it will outline the reasons why it was denied. If this happens, you have the right to request a hearing before this board.
You also have the chance of presenting your available evidence to support your claim of compensation. Some pieces of evidence as allowed to be presented to the board and this includes expert testimony (e.g. from a medical professional), your testimony, witness testimony, and any other kind of evidence that could help to support your claims. The hearing will take place in front of a judge, who will make the final decision on your workers’ compensation claim.
In case the decision the judge makes isn’t favorable, the claim doesn’t have to end there. You can go ahead and appeal it by filing an appeal with the Appellate Division of the State Board of Workers’ Compensation Insurance. The appeal needs to be filed within 20 days from the day you received the notice that your claim has been denied.
Is Workers’ Compensation Available for an Independent Contractor?
In Georgia, independent contractors typically don’t have workers’ compensation coverage. This makes it easy for many employers to classify their employees as independent contractors, which means that they don’t have to pay for workers’ compensation coverage.
For independent contractors, there are a number of ways to become eligible for the benefits. Some of the ways are:
- If the structured work schedule is coming from a third party
- If another company, individual, or entity dictates the means in which the victim completes the job
- If they aren’t controlling the working conditions
At Calvin Smith Law, our lawyers will work with you every step of the way and help determine whether you have been misclassified by your employer. If it’s the case, then we’ll immediately initiate the process of filing a claim.
What about Preexisting Injury?
Some people are afraid that they might be unable to successfully file their claim because they have some pre-existing injuries or conditions. For instance, if someone had back pains prior to the accident, they might be worried that they won’t receive the compensation they need and deserve because the employer will claim the medical problems existed before the accident.
Fortunately, Georgia protects these kinds of people. Generally, you are entitled to get the workers’ comp benefits even if you had pre-existing conditions that get aggravated or exacerbated by the accident. In reality, many people are dealing with pre-existing conditions at any one point, and trying to exclude them means that almost no one will be protected by the law when pursuing compensation.
What if the Accident was My Fault?
For workplace accidents, it doesn’t matter whether you or your employer caused the accident. If for instance you slipped and fell on a wet floor after the machine you’ve been using has leaked water, you might think that you’re 100% responsible for your injuries. However, this isn’t going to prevent you from being awarded compensation under Georgia Laws. Keep in mind that compensation laws are put in place in order to protect the workers’ rights, even in cases where they had a role to play in the accident.
While the system follows the no-fault rule, there are certain exceptions to the rule. According to the Georgia Workers’ Compensation Act, workers cannot claim compensation for injury or death caused by working while under the influence of controlled drugs and substances like marijuana, or intoxication by alcohol.
In case a worker was drunk or high when the accident occurred, the claim can be denied. However, the presence of alcohol or drugs in your system doesn’t automatically disqualify you from being eligible for compensation. If you can prove that the accident would still have occurred even if you were sober, which basically demonstrates that the cause of the accident wasn’t intoxication, the claim has enough grounds to move forward.
Can I File a Personal Injury Suit?
One drawback of the no-fault system is that workers cannot sue their employer, even if they are at fault. In Georgia, the workers’ compensation system offers immunity for employers and co-workers for such kinds of suits. You can’t sue your employer for personal injury even in cases where they were negligent. This applies to co-workers – you can’t sue coworkers even if they are the ones who caused the accident in the workplace.
With that in mind, you can still file a claim against any third party who isn’t a coworker or employer. If someone from another business or company caused the accident through their acts of negligence or carelessness, which led to the injury, you can file for damages against the third party alongside the compensation claim.
Speak to a Roswell Workers Compensation Lawyer Today!
If you were injured while on the job, don’t hesitate to get in touch with Calvin Smith Law. Our Roswell personal injury firm can help you get your life back on track, and make sure that you receive the compensation you need and deserve for the injuries you sustained.