In Georgia, if you are hurt while performing your job, you are most likely going to be entitled to receive Workers’ Compensation benefits. While there are certain types of employers that are exempt from these laws, such as agricultural employers, other employers with three or more employees are required to provide this coverage.
What Does the Workers Compensation Act Mean to Employees?
If you are hurt at work, while acting within the course and scope of your employment, then the employer’s Workers Compensation Insurer is required to pay for your reasonable medical expenses and even pay you while you are out of work. In addition, you can receive these benefits regardless of whose fault the injury was.
While receiving benefits without having to prove fault may sound like a good deal for the employee and a bad deal for the employer, there is a trade off. In exchange for having to provide benefits to employees regardless of fault, the employer receives immunity so that, except in rare circumstances, it cannot be sued because of the employee’s injuries, even if the employer was negligent.
First Thing To Do – Tell Your Employer You’re Hurt.
If you get hurt at work, the first thing you need to do is let your employer know. Sometimes, this may only require you to tell your immediate supervisor. However, if that person is not available, then make sure you tell someone as soon as possible. Georgia law requires that an employer receive the notice of injury within 30 days.
Second – Get Medical Treatment if Appropriate.
After you have provided notice, your employer will likely want to know if you need medical treatment. Pursuant to the Workers Compensation Act, your employer should have a “Posted Panel of Physicians.” This posted panel is usually in a break room or other public area and it will list several medical providers that are approved “work comp” doctors or medical practices that are covered by the employer’s Workers’ Compensation insurer.
If you are told to see a doctor, make sure it is one of the providers from the posted panel. If you go to someone off the panel, the insurer may attempt to deny coverage for that visit leaving you holding the bag.
Of course, in emergency situations, you can also go directly to the emergency room for treatment and those charges will still be covered. Also, if your employer does not have a posted panel of physicians, you can go to any doctor of your choice and the employer will still have to pay since it did not have a posted panel of physicians. The main thing, however, is to know that you have choices. You do not have to go to only the doctor the employer wants you to. You have choices.
Third – Keep Your Employer Informed of Your Condition.
After meeting with a doctor, you need to let your employer know what the doctor said. If you are going to be out of work, let your boss know. They still have a business to run and they need to know whether to expect you back or not. You will need to get written verification to your employer if you are going to be out of work.
If you can return to work, the employer also needs to know of any limitations you may have to work under. Again, be sure to get these limitations in writing from the doctor so you can give a copy to your employer.
Fourth – Fill Out State Forms
In Georgia, an employee that has been hurt at work must file a WC-14 Notice of Claim with the State Board of Workers Compensation. This form can be found here. This form must be filed within one year of the date of injury, although there may be extensions to this time period in certain situations.
Fifth – If You Have a Serious Injury, Seek Advice from a Workers Compensation Attorney
If you are able to return to work shortly after your injury, then great. You may want to call us to be sure that you have received everything you are supposed to, though. For example, if you suffered an injury that leaves a permanent impairment, the insurer is required to pay you additional monies for the permanent injury. We can help you determine what that amount should be.
If, however, your injury is more serious, and you are going to need extensive medical treatment and/or extended missed time from work, you may want to get help from a qualified attorney. Here at The Kirbo Law Firm, we have decades of experience in these types of cases and will be happy to discuss the facts of your case with you to be sure you are comfortable with all of your options.