If you’ve sustained an injury at work, this can not only be a major inconvenience, but it can also be very distressing. You could be dealing with high medical bills, pain and suffering, and have to go against your employer over who’s responsible for the accident. If you were injured while at work, then you don’t need to worry. You just have to call a Smyrna workers’ compensation lawyer today.
Our Smyrna personal injury attorneys at Calvin Smith Law are experts in the field and have extensive knowledge about personal injury law. They will help you in seeking justice, and you will be able to focus on your recovery.
What is Workers Compensation?
In case you are a worker and you get injured on the job, then under Smyrna, Georgia law, you are entitled to:
- Medical treatment covered by the employer’s insurance including your stay at the hospital
- Physical therapy
- Medicine prescriptions
- Necessary travel costs
- Full or temporary disability benefits if the injuries you sustained forced you to stay out of work for a certain period of time
Depending on your situation, you might also be entitled to getting vocational rehabilitation. It is important to note that worker’s compensation laws tend to vary depending on the state. This is why it is highly recommended to consult an attorney who has specialized in this field.
Common Causes of Worker’s Compensation Claims
While the risks of workplace injuries are higher in some industries, injuries can happen in any workplace. It comes as no surprise that the construction industry has the highest rates of workplace industries. The Occupational Safety and Hazard Administration (OSHA) carefully tracks on-job injuries to ensure that the “Fatal Four” causes of death at the workplace are avoided. These causes include electrocutions, falls, “caught in/between”, and “struck by object”.
The following are 10 of the most common workplace injuries
- Joint pains
- Neck and Back injuries
- Hearing loss
- Construction accidents
- Slip and fall accidents
- Machinery and tool accidents
- Accidents sustained while traveling for business
What Do I Need to Do Immediately After a Work Injury?
What you need to do first is to inform your employer about the injury. It is important to note that you only have 30 days to do so. The next thing you need to do is to contact a lawyer. According to the law in Georgia, you are not required to provide your insurer or employer with a recorded statement. Our legal experts at Calvin Smith Law advise you to not provide a statement since it can be used against you.
While a workers’ compensation claim is meant to help you get your life back to normal, you might find yourself being pressured to resume your job even before you are ready.
Can You Get Workers’ Compensation From Your Employer?
If you have never benefited from workers’ compensation, then you might not be aware if your employer has workers’ compensation. What mostly deters injured workers from filing claims is not having knowledge about worker’s compensation law.
A lot of people tend to assume that worker’s compensation only applies to big companies and corporations, or that it is available as an employee perk along with other benefits.
How Does One Find Out If Their Employer Has Worker’s Compensation Insurance?
Depending on the structure of your company, this may not be an option for you at all. Georgia law requires that employers with three or more employees should have worker’s compensation. This also applies to small businesses that have three or more employees.
If you are employed by a subcontractor that doesn’t have workers’ compensation coverage in place, then the actual contractor can be held responsible for the coverage.
If none of the above conditions apply to your specific situation, then you should reach out to Calvin Smith Law immediately to initiate consultations with a professional lawyer who will guide and advise you about your case.
What Are the Benefits That Come With Workers’ Compensation?
The kinds of benefits that an affected worker is entitled to are detailed in Georgia’s state board of Workers’ Compensation Employee Handbook. The following are some of the top benefits that a worker injured at their workplace is entitled to:
Medical Benefits: In the event that you are injured at the workplace, then you will be entitled to receiving a fair amount of medical benefits. These benefits include hospital visits, doctor visits, medications, surgeries, rehabilitation, and more. While you won’t have the right to select your own preferred physician, you will be able to choose from a list selected by the workers’ compensation insurance provider.
Income Benefits: If you have been forced to stay out of work due to your injuries, then you have the right to claim income benefits. Workers who’ve missed more than 7 days of work due to injuries are eligible for these benefits. If the stay goes beyond 21 days, then you can receive payment for the first 7 days of work. If you sustained devastating injuries, then you are entitled to receiving benefits for the period that you have been out of work. For accidents that result in non-devastating injuries, the benefits can be paid for 400 weeks.
Death Benefits: Sometimes, workplace accidents can result in the death of a worker. If this happens, then the dependents can receive death benefits including, funeral expenses in addition to lost wages.
Deceased workers who are eligible for income benefits, the amount will be equal to two-thirds of their weekly pay, of course, up to the allowed maximum amount.
What Steps Should I Take After Being Involved in a Workplace Injury?
If you have sustained a workplace injury, then it is understandable that you might be feeling confused and in great pain. You might also be dealing with anxiety or feeling embarrassed. This overwhelming mixture of emotions and feelings might make you feel like just ignoring your injures and going back to work.
The last thing any employee wants is to be involved in a conflict with their employer, particularly in situations where they hold a competitive position in the company and there are a lot of people eyeing it or are waiting for the opportunity to be employed.
When it comes to dealing with workplace injuries, time is usually of the essence. Here are crucial steps that you need to take:
Immediately report the incident to the manager/supervisor. Ideally, you should first notify them verbally and then document it in an email or letter. This will help to make it easier for your lawyers to prove that you complied regardless of how your employer handled the matter.
Get medical treatment. Having your injuries examined by a medical professional will significantly help to prove your claims. You can get an on-site examination if your employer has an in-house medical team. If not, then you need to make sure that you visit the emergency room, hospital, or clinic.
At times, you might need to be examined by a doctor approved specifically by your employer. To ensure that all of your injuries are well documented and treated, you need to inform your healthcare professional all your related symptoms and any signs of injuries that you may have experienced.
Get in touch with a Workers’ Compensation Attorney. Your attorney will be able to guide you through the process. They will inform you of what kind of information you should disclose to your doctor and employer and also ensure no stone is left unturned.
With the assistance os a professional lawyer, you will be able to effectively file a Form WC-14 claim. This is the official claim notice.
How to File a Claim for Workers’ Compensation Claims
To safeguard your rights, you need to take action immediately after the workplace incident. Unnecessary delays and failure to tale action can cause you to lose your legal right to seek compensation.
It is your responsibility to report the accident as soon as it happens. You will only have 30 days from the date of the incident to report it to your employer.
Once you’ve informed your employer about your injury, then according to the law, they will have to file an Occupational Disease Form or a First Report of Injury. If your employer fails to do this, then they risk suffering civil penalties. If the employer fails to report the injury as required, then your best solution is to hire an attorney immediately. This helps you to avoid mistakenly forfeiting your legal rights.
Another option is to file the claim with the State Board of Workers’ Compensation. However, the time limit for this option is one year from the date of the injury.
Why It Is Important to Act Fast When Dealing with the Claims Process
As stated earlier, time is usually of the essence when it comes to filing a claim. Many workplace injury victims tend to assume that they have all the time to file a workers’ compensation claim. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. It might be easy to assume that you have enough money to deal with your new situation, or you simply don’t want to create tension between you and your employer by filing a claim.
It is always important to understand that time is not usually on your side when dealing with a workplace injury. All workers’ compensation attorneys agree that taking quick action is essential since the window of opportunity is usually very limited. As a matter of fact, if you fail to report the workplace injury in 30 days following the date of the accident, then the window can be permanently closed even before you have the opportunity of doing anything about it.
Why It Is Important to Hire a Workers’ Compensation Attorney
Workers’ compensation is meant to benefit all the parties involved – starting with the affected victim, the employer, all the way to the insurer. But considering the fact that insurance companies are businesses, after all, they will work hard to devalue or deny your claim. In case you notice that your employer or their insurance carrier isn’t cooperating, then you should get in touch with our attorneys to ensure that your rights are protected and you get the compensation that you deserve.
Insurers are aware of the fact that some employees will try to trick the system and commit workers’ compensation fraud. This often happens when an employee attempts to make a fake claim or tries to exaggerate their claims so as to get a higher payout form the insurance company. You have to keep in mind the fact that it is not in the best interest of the insurance company to payout.
On the other hand, an employer might deny any claims fearing that doing so will ultimately raise their premium rates. They may even go as far as covering up the accident and deny that the accident happened at all. However, with an expert attorney on your side, you will be in a better position to receive the compensation that you deserve compared to what you’d get if you’d have handled the matter on your own.
An attorney can help you handle the case in various ways. He or she will assist in gathering all the necessary evidence to help solidify your case. This evidence includes safety records, medical records, and witness statements. In case your claim is denied even after all this information is presented, then your lawyer will have to appeal with the Workers’ Compensation Board in Georgia to demand the benefits.
Your attorney will review the specific details of your case and determine if you can pursue additional damages for all of the injuries that you might have suffered following the workplace accident. According to Georgia law, the compensation amount can cover medical treatment, lost wages, and offer partial or permanent disability funds.
If there is another party that is at fault for your injuries that isn’t your employer, then your lawyer may consider filing a lawsuit against this third party. The third-party can include a manufacturer of faulty equipment that may have in some way led to the accident.
Ho to Appeal a Denied Claim
If the insurer providing workers’ compensation coverage to your employer denies your claim, then you should pursue legal action. To ensure that you protect your rights, it is crucial that you hire a professional Workers’ Compensation Attorney in Smyrna. An experienced attorney in Smyrna will effectively handle the full process of appealing a denied claim.
You will receive a notification from the State Board of Workers’ Compensation immediately your claim is denied. You will also be provided with a list of reasons why your claim was denied. In case this happens, then you are entitled to request a hearing before the board.
You will also have the opportunity to present your available evidence to help prove your claim of compensation. The kind of evidence you are allowed to present to the board includes expert testimony (for example, from a medical specialist), witness testimony, your testimony, and any other form of evidence that can help to support your claims. The hearing will happen before a judge, who is responsible for making the final decision on your worker’s compensation claim.
If the decision made by the judge isn’t favorable to you, then it doesn’t mean that the claim ends there. Your next step will be to file an appeal with the Appellate Division of the State Board of Workers’ Compensation Insurance. You will need to file an appeal within 20 days from the date you got the notification that your claim had been denied.
Does Workers’ Compensation Apply to Independent Contractors?
Under Georgia’s law, independent contractors aren’t entitled to workers’ compensation coverage. Thus, it is much easier for employers to classify their employees as independent contractors. This means that the employers aren’t required to pay for workers’ compensation coverage.
However, there are various ways in which an independent contractor can become eligible for these benefits. Here are some of the ways:
- If another individual, company or party dictates how the victim completes the job
- If the organized work schedule is from a third party
- If they aren’t in control of the working conditions
Our team of expert attorneys at Calvin Smith Law will guide you throughout the process and help you in determining whether you have been unfairly classified by your employer. If you have been misclassified by your employer, then we will initiate the claim filing process as soon as possible.
What About Preexisting Injuries?
Many workplace victims fear that they won’t be able to effectively file their claim since they have some pre-existing conditions and injuries. As an example, if someone was suffering from back pains before the accident, then they might be fear that they won’t get the compensation that they deserve since their employer will argue that the medical issues weren’t as a result of the accident.
But luckily the state of Georgia protects the interest of such people. Normally, you have the right to receive workers’ compensation benefits even if you had any pre-existing conditions that are worsened by the accident. At any given point, there are lots of people suffering from preexisting conditions. This essentially means that if they are excluded, no one will be protected by the law when seeking justice and compensation.
What Happens If the Accident was My Fault?
When it comes to workplace accidents, it really doesn’t matter if you or your employer was at fault for the accident. For example, in case you slip and fall on a wet floor after the machine or equipment that you’ve just been using leaked water, you might believe that you are fully at fault for your injuries. But keep in mind that this doesn’t unqualify you from being receiving compensation under Georgia Laws. The main purpose of compensation laws is to safeguard workers’ rights even in a situation where they contributed to the accident.
Even though Georgia falls under the no-fault rule, there are some exceptions to the rule. Georgia’s Workers’ Compensation Act stipulates that workers can’t claim compensation for injuries or death caused by working while under the influence of controlled substances such as marijuana, or while intoxicated by alcohol.
A claim can be denied if the accident happened when the worker was drunk or high. But it is worth noting that just the presence of alcohol or drugs in your system won’t automatically make you ineligible to receive compensation. If you are able to provide evidence that the accident would have still happened regardless of if you were sober or not, then the claim will have substantial grounds to proceed. You just have to prove that intoxication wasn’t the cause of the accident.
Can I File a Personal Injury Suit for a Work Injury?
One major downside of the no-fault system is that workers don’t have the right to sue their employer, even when that are at fault. Georgia’s workers’ compensation laws provide immunity to employers and co-workers for these kinds of lawsuits. Even when there is clear evidence of negligence, one can’t sue their employers for personal injury. The same also applies to coworkers even if they are at fault for the workplace accident.
With that being said, it is important to note that you still have the option to file a claim against a third party that isn’t an employer or co-worker. If the accident was caused by an individual from another company or business, then you can file for damages against that third party together with the compensation claim.
Speak With a Smyrna Workers Compensation Lawyer Today!
In case you have sustained injuries while at the workplace, then you should not hesitate to contact Calvin Smith Law. Our Smyrna injury firm will enable you to quickly get back on your feet by ensuring that you get the full compensation that you deserve for the sustained injuries.