If you work in Gwinnett or Fulton County, or anywhere in the Atlanta region, you probably assume that any on-the-job injuries you might suffer will get covered by your employer. The expectation that their insurance will cover your medical expenses, lost wages, and other damages from getting hurt while working is something that many of us take for granted. Unfortunately, this assumption can be a costly mistake should the unthinkable happen while performing your duties. If you sustained injuries because of job-related hazards, purposeful negligence, misconduct by other employees or your employer, you might need the help of an Atlanta workers’ compensation lawyer.
I’ve Been Injured on the Job. Now What?
It is critical after suffering a workplace accident or contracting an illness on the job that you report it to your employer as soon as possible. This can be an intimidating step if you aren’t sure how your supervisor will react. Fortunately, you can have your workers’ compensation attorney do this step for you if needed, but this notification must occur within 30 days of getting hurt.
Once this step is complete, a claim needs to be filed with the State Board of Workers’ Compensation within a year of the date you got injured. If you miss this deadline, you jeopardize all your rights to receiving compensation. Your employer will also have several deadlines to meet, as well, and faces several penalties if they fail to follow through.
Any claim your attorney makes on your behalf should be sent by your employer to their insurer. If you are attempting to navigate the workers’ compensation claim process on your own, you may need to hire a lawyer if your company doesn’t submit your claim as soon as possible.
Who Qualifies for Workers’ Compensation in Atlanta?
In Fulton County and throughout Georgia, workers have a right to apply for compensation if they contract a disease or get hurt while doing their job. It doesn’t matter if you are a minor, part-time, full-time, or seasonal- if your injuries happen in the course of doing your work, you should apply for workers’ comp to cover your damages.
There are a few employee categories that are exempt from the coverages provided by the Georgia Workers’ Compensation Act:
- Farm laborers
- Domestic servants
- Federal employees
- Independent contractors
- Some railroad employees
- Employees working for an employer with three or fewer employees working regularly
If you are the family member of someone who suffered a fatal workplace accident, you should speak with an attorney immediately. Our Atlanta workers’ comp attorneys can alleviate the burden of navigating insurance processes and communications, allowing you to grieve in peace. Oftentimes, loved ones of the deceased employee are eligible to receive a settlement from their employer.
How Do I File a Workers’ Compensation Claim in Gwinnett County?
State law demands that employers with employees must have a workers’ compensation insurance policy. This coverage acts like any other insurance coverage where premium payments get made to ensure against workplace injury costs. Should an accident occur, the hurt worker notifies their supervisor to get the claims process started to cover any associated costs to the injury.
Your employer has a legal duty to provide copies of paperwork or other material relevant to your injury claim. It is illegal for them to take retribution against you in any form, whether by demoting you to a lesser-paying position or firing you. The whole point of workers’ compensation insurance is to ensure that any injuries you suffer while performing a job will get reimbursed for the losses you suffer. It does not matter if your case causes their premiums to become more expensive; they have to show good faith and process your claim.
What Are My Rights Under Workers’ Compensation Laws in Atlanta?
Cobb County and other regional workers who need compensation after getting hurt on the job have several rights under state workers’ comp laws, including:
- Lost wages
- Visit a physician your employer approves of
- Seek a second opinion
- Emergency treatment
- Medical care
- Medical devices
- Transportation costs to and from medical appointments
- Wrongful Death
- Disability benefits
It’s important to remember that even though your employer has insurance to cover your work-related injury, they will not be looking out for your best interests when processing your claim. Workers’ compensation insurers want to minimize how much they have to pay out on any injury case they receive, even if it is to your detriment. Manipulative tactics like denying a valid claim or deflecting blame on to you for your injuries are commonplace.
Is There a Deadline for Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim in Atlanta?
Georgia State law requires employees injured during the performance of their work or while participating in work-related activities to report their injury within 30 days of it occurring. At the very least, one should report it when they should reasonably have known about their condition. In cases where you contracted an illness, such as avian flu from a poultry processing plant, this can be harder to spot right away. Because the State Board of Workers’ Compensation will review your claim, it could assume you weren’t hurt as severely as you claim, and this is why you delayed reporting it.
An experienced Atlanta workers’ compensation attorney like those at The Law Offices of Darwin F. Johnson can prove invaluable in these situations. We understand that not all injuries are apparent when they first occur. We have many years of experience successfully representing these cases to the Board and in the courtroom.
What’s the Difference Between TPD, TTD, PPD, and PD?
Employee workers’ compensation claims will have their injuries assessed to determine which of the below benefit types it falls under:
- Temporary partial disability (TPD)
- Temporary total disability (TTD)
- Partial permanent disability (PPD)
- Permanent disability (PD)
Temporary Total Disability (TTD)
These indemnity benefits are for employees who sustained injuries at work, which are temporary but totally disabling in nature. This means that you cannot work at all, but your doctor expects you to recover over time.
Temporary Partial Disability (TPD)
This injury classification refers to workplace injuries that temporarily diminish an employee’s ability to work, but not completely disable them. Often, work restrictions are possible to enable you to return to work in a partial capacity.
Both temporary benefits help total and partially disabled employees recover their lost wages while recovering from their injuries.
Permanent Disability (PD)
These are benefits for employees who are hurt so severely that they will have permanent disabilities resulting from their workplace accident and cannot return to work.
Partial Permanent Disability (PPD)
Employees who can return to work, but only in reduced capacity due to partial permanent disabilities, qualify for this benefit.
As you can see, every workers’ compensation case is unique, and benefits rely heavily on the severity of injury they suffered in the course of their work and the circumstances leading up to their getting hurt.
How Long Do Workers’ Compensation Benefits Last in Georgia?
The answer is hard to predict because your treating physician is responsible for recommending the amount of time it will take you to recover. Usually, if you can’t work for more than seven days, you should be able to secure workers’ compensation benefits. Typically, your first check will arrive approximately 21 days after your first day of missed work, and if you missed more than three weeks, you will also get benefits for that first week you had to miss, as well.
It’s important to note that Georgia lawmakers capped workers’ compensation benefits for injuries that happened on or after July 1, 2019. Currently, you can only receive up to two-thirds of your normal weekly wages, which have a cap of $675 per week maximum. This benefit lasts for up to 400 weeks for those who cannot work during their recovery time.
If you can return to work but can’t perform your usual duties, or if you can only perform work in a lower-paying job role, you may only receive partial benefits. This process was also affected by the 2019 law changes, and now one can only receive a partial benefit of $450 per week or less for a maximum of 350 weeks
Fortunately, additional provisions help accommodate situations with specific circumstances, such as amputation, disfigurement, and death. Families who lost a loved one in a workplace accident may qualify to receive up to $675 / week. Widowed spouses without children have a cap of $270,000 total benefit.
Does Georgia Workers’ Compensation Cover Pain and Suffering?
Workers’ compensation in Atlanta is designed to compensate for economic damages. These are losses that have a clear dollar amount assigned to them, like a medical bill. Pain and suffering are considered non-economical and do not qualify. There is little doubt that your injuries are causing you a significant amount of pain. If you are suffering from this experience, this is where personal injury law comes into play.
A personal injury claim can help you recover for damages that workers’ comp doesn’t cover, including pain and suffering. This claim type is only permitted in third-party liability circumstances and is often the best strategy if that third-party contributed to your injuries while working. For example, you could have been involved in a car accident while delivering a product to a customer. You could sue the liable driver for their negligence that is now causing your anguish.
The point is that you have options outside of your workers’ compensation case to recover additional damages if necessary. This requires you to work with an attorney who has a proven track record of successfully litigating personal injury law. The Law Offices of Darwin F. Johnson is such a practice; with over 30 years of combined experience helping workers receive the compensation they need to move forward with their lives.
What if My Workers’ Compensation Claim Gets Denied?
Having your workers’ comp claim come back denied can be disheartening. This can occur for any number of underlying reasons. Though, many times the insurer is trying to save money. By placing the burden for appeals and proof back on you, the injured, the insurer hopes to win through obfuscation. Maybe you got hurt on a construction site, but no one witnessed it happen. Adjusters often deny these claims without a second thought and leave it on you to appeal and provide the evidence.
Or, maybe you failed the required drug test. There are specific rules for when these tests get taken after an employee gets injured, otherwise, they are invalid. The type of drug you took could also impact how these tests influence your claim. A skilled workers’ compensation attorney knows how to attack these situations and not let insurers take the easy way out.
Why You Need an Experienced, Atlanta Workers’ Compensation Attorney
Every year, employers in Gwinnett, Fulton, Cobb, and DeKalb Counties and throughout the Atlanta region process thousands of workers’ compensation claims. These cases get fought over, denied at first, or completely lost. Sadly, this is often because of mistakes made by the injured employee.
Below are some common pitfalls of pursuing injury compensation on your own:
- Exaggerating the severity of your injuries
- Purposely hiding information about pre-existing conditions
- Failing to go to doctor appointments
- Sharing injury information and personal life details on social media
- Not seeking legal advice from a qualified workers’ compensation attorney in Fulton County
Avoid jeopardizing your entire case because of an avoidable mistake. As a premier Fulton County workers’ compensation practice, The Law Offices of Darwin F. Johnson has extensive experience and training in this field of law. Our mission is to vigorously pursue all damages our clients are due after suffering a workplace injury. One that has often devastated their careers, lives, and future well-being. With over 30 years of combined experience, we are all too familiar with how employers and their insurers attempt to manipulate, bully, and frustrate injured workers trying to recover.
Contact us today at (404) 521-2667 or fill out our online form to schedule a free consultation and learn more about your rights to compensation under Georgia law. You are not powerless in these situations, and we can help.