Getting hurt on the job can put your life and livelihood in danger. The good news is that most Georgia employees are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits to help pay for medical expenses and provide partial wage replacement while they heal. The bad news is that the path to workers’ compensation in Georgia can be fraught with obstacles.
After a workplace injury, you are required to take certain steps in order to seek workers’ compensation benefits. Failure to meet a deadline or submit the proper paperwork could result in denials or delays to benefits that that you are rightfully entitled to.
An experienced workplace accident lawyer at Sherrod & Bernard, P.C. can help you with every step of the workers’ compensation process. Call or contact us today for a free consultation.
What Steps Should You Take Immediate After Your Work Injury in Georgia?
Most workers’ compensation issues in Georgia are governed by the State Board of Workers’ Compensation (SBWC). If you are hurt at work, you need to do the following as soon as possible:
- Seek immediate medical treatment.
- Report the work injury to your employer immediately.
- Make sure your employer files an accident report with their workers’ compensation insurer. Get a copy of the report.
- Obtain a list of approved doctors for future treatment and medical care.
- Keep records of everything about your workplace injury, including insurance statements, medical bills, prescription receipts, and contact information for your doctors, other treatment providers, and any witnesses.
- Seek help from a Georgia workers’ compensation lawyer. An attorney can help file the required paperwork with the SBWC, as well as identify whether you have other potential sources of compensation through a third-party lawsuit.
How Long Do You Have to Notify Your Employer of a Work Injury?
The general rule of thumb is to report the injury to your employer as soon as possible. However, Georgia law requires you to file a notice of injury with your employer within 30 days. Failure to meet the deadline could result in a denial of workers’ compensation benefits.
In order to receive workers’ compensation benefits, you must be able to show that your injury is work-related. The longer you wait to report the injury, the greater the chances that the insurance company will argue that your injury resulted from another incident.
How Quickly Do You Need to File a Workers’ Comp Claim?
You should file your WC-14 “Notice of Claim” form with the SBWC as soon as possible to speed up the arrival of your benefits. However, you must do so within one year of sustaining the injury or being diagnosed with a qualifying occupational illness.
Can Your Employer Block a Workers’ Compensation Claim?
If you suffered an injury that arose out of the course of your employment, your employer cannot lawfully block your workers’ comp claim. If your employer is not taking the necessary steps required to move forward with your claim, you should get in touch with a workers’ compensation lawyer in Georgia as soon as possible.
Can You Go to Your Own Doctor After a Workplace Injury?
If you suffer a catastrophic injury at work and need immediate emergency medical attention, you should go to the nearest emergency department or healthcare facility where you can be assessed and treated. In emergency situations, it’s OK to put your own physical wellbeing above Georgia workers’ compensation requirements.
However, if your injury is not life-threatening or does not require emergency care, you will need to seek medical assessment and treatment from a healthcare provider who is certified as a Managed Care Organization (MCO) doctor. Your employer should have a posted list of certified MCO physicians who can treat you if you get hurt on the job, and you should be able to choose from six or more physicians.
What Do I Need to Prove in Order to File Workers’ Comp?
Unlike personal injury lawsuits, a workers’ compensation case does not require you to prove that anyone was at fault for your injuries. However, a worker will need to prove that the injury arose out of his or her employment. To be eligible for workers’ compensation, an employee must sustain an injury while working.
Can I File a Lawsuit If I Got Hurt at Work?
Georgia law does not allow an injured worker to sue an employer for negligence. However, if a third party is liable for the worker’s injuries, it may be possible to file a workers’ compensation claim for benefits from the employer as well as a lawsuit against the third party.
For example, if a defective piece of machinery crushed your arm while working on a construction job, you may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against the company who designed or manufactured the product.
The advantage of filing a third-party lawsuit (if possible) is that you stand a chance of recovering more compensation, including money for pain and suffering. You cannot receive compensation for pain and suffering with workers’ compensation in Georgia. However, you can start receiving benefits much more quickly with workers’ compensation compared to a personal injury lawsuit.
It’s important to have a knowledgeable workers’ compensation attorney evaluate the facts of your case to determine whether a lawsuit is possible. Sometimes, it’s not easy to tell.
Contact a Work Injury Attorney in Georgia
At Sherrod & Bernard, P.C., our lawyers know that you rely on your income to cover your bills and to provide for your family. If you got hurt on the job, our dedicated Georgia work injury lawyers will do everything we can to help you obtain the financial compensation you are owed.
Our law firm has years of experience assisting clients with personal injury and workers’ compensation claims. Contact us today for more information about the services we provide to clients in Douglasville and throughout the Atlanta area.
Kenneth R. Bernard Jr. serves as the Managing Partner of Sherrod & Bernard, P.C. A native of Douglas County, Kenneth earned both his undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Georgia. He then served his country as a Judge Advocate General in the U.S. Marine Corps, attaining the rank of Captain during Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm. After his service, Ken returned home and joined forces with John Sherrod to launch Sherrod & Bernard, P.C., a law firm with a mission of providing superior legal services with a neighborly touch. In addition to his practice, Ken has served on several boards and committees, including three terms as Chairman of the University System of Georgia Foundation, Inc.