Being injured at work can be frustrating because of the medical expenses, suffering, and pain resulting from the injury. Besides, some employers do not admit fault and may blame the injured employee. If you are injured at work, it is important to contact a Stonecrest workers’ compensation lawyer as soon as you can. At Calvin Smith Law, we have experienced and personal injury attorneys who can help you receive the compensation you deserve while you focus on your recovery.
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What Does Workers Compensation Mean?
Workers’ compensation helps employees in case they are injured at work. In Stonecrest, Georgia, the workers’ compensation gives an injured employee the legal ground to seek:
- Temporary disability benefits if you cannot work for a certain period of time because of the injuries you sustained
- Medical care including hospital stays which should be covered by your employer’s insurance provider.
- Physical therapy
- Necessary travel costs
As an injured employee, you may also have a legal ground to pursue vocation rehabilitation. Different states have different workers’ compensation laws. That is why it is a good idea to consult a workers’ compensation lawyer before filing a worker’s compensation claim. This is because a workers’ compensation lawyer fully understands workers’ compensation laws in your state.
Injuries Are Covered by Workers’ Compensation
Workers’ compensation usually covers work-related injuries. Even though you can sustain an injury in any type of work environment, the most dangerous places to work is on a construction site. The Occupation Safety and Hazard Administration oversee work-related injuries very keenly to prevent ‘Fatal Four’ causes of workplace deaths: ‘hit by an object’, falls, ‘caught-in/between’, and electrocutions. Some of the most common work-related injuries include:
- Back/Neck injuries
- Slip and fall
- Hearing loss
- Business travel accidents
- Joint pain
- Accidents that occur while operating tools or machinery
- Construction accidents
What to Do After A Workplace Injury
The first thing you need to do after being injured at work is to tell a colleague about the injury. You are required to do this within 30 days after the workplace accident and it is likely that a supervisor or co-worker reached out to the manager. After telling one of your colleagues about the incident, contact a workers’ compensation lawyer.
The law stipulates that you are not required to give any recorded statement to the insurance provider or the employer. At Calvin Smith Law, we know that any information you have may be used against you. That is why we discourage our clients from giving out any information. Workers’ compensation is meant to get an injured employee back to their optimal health. Keep in mind that your employer may pressurize you to go back to work before you are fully recovered.
Does Your Employer Have Workers’ Compensation?
The only time that most employees know whether or not their employer has workers’ compensation is when they benefit from it personally. The lack of this knowledge has prevented many injured employees from filing cases. Most people make the mistake of thinking that workers’ compensation only applies to big companies and big corporations and only comes as a ‘perk’ among other benefits.
Depending on the structure of the company, it may not be an alternative at all. According to Georgian state law, employers with more than 3 employees are supposed to have workers’ compensation. This applies to all businesses (even if it is an up and coming business) provided they have more than 3 employees.
If you are working for a sub-contractor who does not offer workers coverage, you should know that the actual contractor can be held responsible for the workers’ compensation coverage. If the scenarios above apply to you, contact Calvin Smith Law as soon as possible so that you get legal advice and guidance from an experienced and skilled lawyer.
Benefits That Workers’ Compensation Offers
The Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation provides an employee handbook that gives full information about the benefits that an employee who sustains a work-related injury or illness may gain. These benefits include:
An employee who sustains an injury at work has a right to get reasonable medical benefits such as doctor visits, surgeries, medication, and hospital visits. However, the injured worker cannot choose their own physician. Instead, they have to choose a physician from a list provided by workers’ compensation insurance provider.
If an employee is unable to go back to work after sustaining a work-related injury, he or she is supposed to be given income benefits. This applies to an employee who has not gone back to work for a period exceeding 7 or more days after the accident. If an employee is not able to go back to work for a period exceeding 21 days, he or she should be paid for the first 7 days.
It is fatal, the employee will get benefits for the period he or she has not been working. However, the payment benefits can go for 400 weeks if the employee sustained a non-catastrophic injury. An employee who is eligible to receive income benefits will receive an amount equal to two-thirds of their weekly wage until the maximum allowed amount is attained.
If an employee dies from a work-related injury, then the employee’s dependents are supposed to be given death benefits including funeral and burial expenses, and lost wages.
What to Do After Sustaining A Work-related Injury
It is normal to feel overwhelmed by the pain and confusion after an accident. It is also normal to feel pain and have anxiety. Sometimes, a person may feel a bit embarrassed after an accident. This can make you feel like you should continue to work despite your injury and misrepresent the seriousness of the injury you sustained or not telling anyone about the injury.
Most of the employees avoid ‘Rocking the Boat. This is the case especially when an employee’s position is competitive and many people are interested in it. When it comes to work-related injuries, time is of the essence. Here are steps to take after sustaining a work-related injury:
Tell the supervisor or manager about the injury as soon as possible. Start with a verbal notification and follow it up by documenting it either in an email or letter. This is important as it will help your lawyers prove that you were compliant regardless of the way the employer handled the situation.
Seek Treatment As Soon As Possible
Keep in mind that what you say will be used in your workers’ compensation case and a professional medical practitioner will determine your level of injury. Some employers have in-house medical staff who may examine an injured employee on site. If your employer does not have an in-house medical staff, visit a hospital, clinic, or hospital. In some cases, the employer will have to give the doctor examining you the go-ahead.
Reveal signs of damage and symptoms associated with the accident. This will help you ensure that the injuries you sustained are documented properly and treated by a medical practitioner.
Contact a workers’ compensation lawyer. A workers’ compensation lawyer has handled cases like yours before and can offer you vital assistance. You can rely on the lawyer for guidance after being injured at your workplace. For instance, a workers’ compensation lawyer will tell your employer and doctor to make sure that all bases have been covered. Apart from guidance, the lawyer will help you file Form WC-14 (the official claim notice).
Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim
The process of filing a workers’ compensation claim should start immediately after sustaining a work-related injury by reporting the accident to your employer as soon as possible. Procrastinating could cost you your rights of getting payments. You are required to report the accident to your employer within 30 days after the accident.
After reporting to the employer, the employer is required by law to file an Occupational Disease form or a First Report of Injury. If an employer does not do this, he or she is subject to civil penalties. If your employer is not willing to report the injury, look for a workers’ compensation lawyer immediately before the deadline lapses.
Another option is to file the workers’ compensation claim with the State Board of Workers’ Compensation within one year after the date of the accident.
Why Time Is of The Essence When Handling the Claims Process
Prompt action must be taken when filing a workers’ compensation claim. Many injured employees make a mistake of believing that time is on their side. However, this is not the case as time flies. You may think that the money have can protect you after you sustain a work-related injury. You may also be afraid of ‘rocking the boat’ by filing the claim seeking compensation.
When dealing with a workplace injury, you should remember that time is of the essence and it is not on your side. A worker compensation attorney will tell you that it is important to act fast as the window of opportunity can be shut once and for all. Failure to file the workplace accident report within 30 days after the date of the accident, the window of opportunity may have already been shut before you take any action.
Why It Is Important to Hire A Workers’ Compensation Lawyer
The main aim of workers’ compensation is to ensure that all the parties involved benefit including the employer and the insurance provider. However, in some instances, an insurance provider will offer you less than you deserve or deny your claim. If an insurance company is not willing to pay you what you deserve, contact us as soon as possible so that we can help you get what you deserve.
Insurance providers know that there are employees who use dirty tricks to commit workers’ compensation fraud. These employees usually exaggerate their injuries or fake claims to get compensation. Compensating such employees can reduce an insurance provider’s profits. This is the major reason why insurance providers are reluctant to compensate employees who sustain work-related injuries.
An employer may fear that his or her premium will increase when an insurance provider makes a payout and may cover up an accident that occurs at work or deny a claim. The employer can deny that no accident occurred in the workplace. A good workers’ compensation attorney knows how to deal with workers’ compensation cases and will try as much as possible to help you get what you deserve.
On the other hand, if you don’t work with a lawyer, you could end up receiving less than you deserve. The lawyer will help you with the case in different ways. First of all, the lawyer can help prepare the evidence that will back up your claims and increase your chances of receiving compensation. This includes gathering safety reports, medical records, and witness statements, if possible.
If the information in the claim is rejected, a workers’ compensation lawyer can file an appeal with the Georgia workers’ compensation board demanding the payment of the benefits. The lawyer will also review the facts of the case and determine whether it is possible to pursue additional damages due to work-related injuries. According to the Georgian state law, additional damages include medical treatment, lost wages, and temporal or permanent disability funds.
In some instances, an accident is caused by another party other than the employer. In such cases, the lawyer will file a suit again the third party liable for the accident. One of the best examples of a third party can be a manufacturer whose defective equipment caused an accident.
How Do I Appeal A Denied Claim?
If your workers’ compensation claim is denied by an insurance provider, you can take legal action. Hiring an experienced and skilled Stonecrest workers’ compensation attorney when appealing will ensure that your interests are protected. This is because the attorney fully understands the process of appealing a denied claim.
If your claim is denied, The State Board of Workers’ compensation will send you a notification explaining why the claim was rejected. After receiving the notification, you can request to appear before The State Board of Workers’ Compensation.
You will be given the opportunity to present your case and the evidence to support the case. Some of the evidence that you can present include: your testimony and expert testimony from professional medical practitioners. The hearing usually happens before a judge who will be the one to make the final decision regarding your claim.
If the judge makes a decision that does not favor you, it is still possible to appeal with the Appellate Division of the State Board of Workers’ compensation insurance. You will have to file the appeal within 20 days after the day you realized that your claim was rejected.
Are Independent Contractors Covered by Workers’ Compensation?
In Georgia, an independent contractor is not under any workers’ compensation coverage. This has made employers categorize their employees as independent contractors to avoid offering workers’ compensation coverage. The good news is that you can be eligible to receive benefits as an independent contractor. Here are some ways that can help you qualify for benefits:
- If they are not in control of their working conditions
- If a third party is giving them a structured work schedule
- If another individual, entity or company is dictating the way the victim completes his or her work
If your employer misclassified you, lawyers at Calvin Smith Law will try as much as they can to prove this. If we find out that your employer misclassified you, we will commence the process of filing the workers’ compensation claim.
What If I Have A Preexisting Injury?
If you have a preexisting injury, you may believe that your claim will be denied or you may be paid less than you deserve. For instance, if you had preexisting back pain before the accident, you may be worried that your employer will claim that you had back pain before.
The good news is that the state of Georgia protects people who have a preexisting injury. So, if you had a preexisting injury before sustaining a work-related injury, you don’t have to be worried as you can receive the compensation you deserve. If you are injured at work, you have a right to get workers’ compensation benefits even if you have a preexisting injury that has been exacerbated or aggravated by an accident. Many people suffer from preexisting medical conditions and if all of them are not eligible for workers’ compensation benefits, the law will be protecting nobody.
What if I Am at Fault for The Accident?
It does not matter if you or the employer is at fault for the workplace accident. According to Georgia workers’ compensation regulations, even if a machine you were using leaked fluid and the fluid caused you to slip and fall on the floor, you will not be denied your claim because of this. The main objective of the compensation system is to protect the rights of workers regardless of whether they are at fault for a workplace accident or not. So, as a worker, you are protected even if you are somewhat at-fault for the accident.
The compensation system is based on the no-fault principle but there are a few exceptions to the rule. According to the Georgia Workers’ Compensation Act, compensation for injury or death will be denied if it is as a result of alcohol intoxication or operating machinery while under the influence of controlled drugs and substances like marijuana.
If a worker works while high or drunk, he or she will not be compensated in case she sustains a work-related injury. However, this does not mean that you will not receive compensation if you have drugs or alcohol in your system. If an employee with drugs or alcohol in his or her system can prove that the lack of sobriety did not cause the accident.
Is It Possible for Me to File a Personal Injury Suit?
One of the cons of the no-fault system is the fact that you cannot sue your employer even if they are at-fault. Georgia’s workers’ compensation system offers immunity from suits like that for employers and co-workers. Even if your employer’s negligence is responsible for your injury, you cannot sue them for personal injury. This also applies to colleagues. This means that you cannot sue your colleagues even if they clearly caused a workplace accident.
Get in Touch with A Stonecrest Workers Compensation Lawyer Today
If you sustain an injury at your workplace, contact us at Calvin Smith Law so that one of our lawyers can help you. Our main aim is to help injured workers get the compensation they deserve after sustaining an injury at work. We have a team of experienced and skilled workers’ compensation lawyers who are always ready to help you. So, please feel free to contact our Stonecrest injury firm whenever you need a good workers’ compensation lawyer.
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