Georgia law actually imposes two deadlines on injured workers. These are the notice of injury and the statute of limitations. Here’s how they work:
Notice of Injury – First, you must notify your employer within 30 days of the injury. According to O.C.G.A. 34-9-80, this can be done by notifying:
- Your supervisor
- The foreman
- A human resources representative
- An authorized agent of the employer
Although the law gives you 30 days, it also says that you are required to provide notice “as soon as practicable” after the event or accident that caused your injury. For injuries that result from a specific event, such as a fall, this is fairly straightforward. You need to make someone aware of the accident right away. If you delay more than 30 days, you will almost certainly lose your right to file a workers’ compensation claim altogether.
It is best to put the notice in writing and get a copy. Using e-mail, a fax, or a certified letter is helpful, because it proves that you met the requirement. However, you should not attempt to argue your case in your notice. It’s enough to let the employer know when and where you were injured and what part of your body you injured. If a worker dies on the job, the survivors have 30 days to provide notice. Sometimes injuries are not easy to recognize right away, such as when a worker develops a medical condition over time. In this case, you must provide notice within 30 days of when you discovered that the injury was incurred at work or reasonably should have made such a determination.
Statute of Limitations – The other deadline is the statute of limitations. This too is quite complex. First, for the majority of injury claims, you have just one year after the injury to bring your case before the Workers’ Compensation Board in Georgia. One exception is where you are receiving remedial treatments. For example, you may have been receiving weekly payments for remedial treatment for the injuries.
You may have up to one year from the last date of a remedial treatment to bring your claim before the board, or you have up to two years from the last date of a weekly benefit payment. As you can probably tell, the rules can get a little confusing, especially when the injuries are more severe.
Statute of Limitations for Death Claims – If you lost a loved one in a work injury, then you have just one year from the date of the death, not the injury, to bring a claim. This is often a misconception for some, as the statute of limitations normally starts with the date of the injury. However, sometimes the death may occur days or even months after the injury.
There are many other exceptions and unique situations that can change the amount of time a worker has to bring a claim. So it’s always best to contact a lawyer right away to make sure you are following all of the necessary steps to preserve your claim and protect your rights.
How Long Does it Take to Get Workers’ Compensation Benefits?
Workers’ compensation benefits are very helpful, but they are most needed right after an injury, when you are out of work and unable to earn income. Likewise, many healthcare providers will not bill your health insurance if they know your injury is work-related.
This can create a lot of stress for a worker who is facing expensive medical bills. Therefore, it’s understandable that you may want to know how long it would take to begin getting benefits.
The good news is if you work with an experienced attorney, it may be possible to get your employer to begin making temporary disability payments right away. It all depends on how quickly your claim is approved. Your employer’s insurance carrier has a right to guide care by sending you to a doctor of their choice, which also means medical bills will likely begin getting paid pretty quickly. Other benefits may take longer, depending on whether there is a dispute.
What If My Work Injury Is Permanent?
There are four ways you can receive payment for an injury at work (other than death benefits):
- Temporary Total Disability – This means you were completely disabled and unable to work, but the condition is temporary and you’ll eventually be able to return to work. A good example would be an injury that requires surgery and being out of work for some time, but from which you are anticipated to make a full recovery.
- Temporary Partial Disability – This means you suffered a partial disability that affects your work but is not expected to last forever. A good example would be an injury that limits your work temporarily, such as a broken finger or hand. While it may require some lost time or light-duty restrictions, chances are you will be able to return to full-time work in your old position eventually. Of course there are exceptions, depending on the type of work you do.
- Permanent Partial Disability – This type of injury means that you have a permanent injury that is never expected to completely heal or fully resolve. However, the injury only partially affects your ability to work. Surprisingly, many serious injuries fall into this category, even if they are severe.
- Permanent Total Disability – The most serious and lasting injuries fall into this category, as they are permanent and they affect your whole person for the rest of your life. These catastrophic and totally disabling injuries are defined as injuries that leave you unable to work at all. Additionally, when you are found to have this type of injury, you may also be able to get rehabilitation services paid for through workers’ comp.
What are Common Types of Workplace Accident Cases?
At Sherrod & Bernard, P.C., we handle a wide range of workplace injuries. These include the following, just to name a few:
- Construction site accidents
- Head traumas, concussions, and traumatic brain injuries (TBI)
- Chemical exposures
- Spinal injuries
- Torn rotator cuffs and other upper extremity injuries
- Disc injuries
- Crushing injuries
- Carpal tunnel syndrome cases
- Exposure to disease or environmental hazards
- Motor vehicle accidents
If you don’t see your injury listed above, don’t worry. Work injuries are all unique, and chances are we can help with whatever type of injury you have suffered. Give our firm a call today to find out how we can assist you in obtaining financial compensation for your on-the-job injury.