If you are injured on the job, you may be worried about how you will pay your medical bills and how you can afford to take the time off of work that you will require to heal. Thankfully, Georgia’s workers’ compensation program was designed to address these concerns and offset the financial burden on you and your family.
What Is Workers’ Compensation?
Workers’ compensation is a state program that financially assists workers who become injured on the job. The program provides benefits for medical and rehabilitative expenses and lost income caused by on-the-job injuries.
Am I Eligible For Workers’ Compensation?
The first thing you have to do to determine eligibility is to find out whether your employer is covered by Georgia’s workers’ compensation law. If your employer has three or more employees, they likely are required to hold workers’ compensation insurance. However, federal agencies, railroad carriers, farmworkers, and domestic servants are exempt from this requirement. The State Board of Workers’ Compensation provides an online search tool that you can use to verify whether your employer has coverage.
Next, how and when you were injured affects the eligibility determination. Not all injuries at the workplace are eligible for workers’ compensation. If you were injured while performing assigned work duties within your work hours, your injury likely will be covered. However, if you were on lunch break and not performing assigned duties, it might not be covered. Likewise, injuries during your normal commute are not normally covered.
The type of injury also matters. For example, for preexisting conditions that are exacerbated by work conditions, there are limitations on the compensation that an employee may receive. If you suffer a heart attack or stroke at work, workers’ compensation might not cover the injury unless you can prove that more likely than not, your heart attack or stroke was caused by performing your work.
You are not eligible for benefits if you were injured due to the use of alcohol or drugs. Injury resulting from willful misconduct will also not be covered.
How Can I Get Benefits?
If you are injured on the job, you should notify your employer immediately. Your employer should provide you with paperwork to report your injury. You can also get the necessary forms from the State Board of Workers’ Compensation (SBWC). You should then file the paperwork with your employer and with the employer’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier. The SBWC can assist you if you do not know your employer’s insurance carrier or if you need help completing the forms.
If your workers’ compensation claim is denied by your employer or workers’ compensation administrator, you may request a hearing with the SBWC. To do so, you will need to file an additional claim directly with the SBWC. You must file this within one year of your injury.
Is There A Time Limit For Filing?
Generally, workers’ compensation claims must be filed within a year of the injury. There are some exceptions that may extend the time that you have to file. For example, if your employer-provided some treatment to you following the injury, you would then have a year after the date of the treatment to file for workers’ compensation benefits. If you are seeking compensation for a disease that arose due to your occupation, you may have one year from the date that you became aware of the correlation to your job, but this can’t exceed seven years after the last exposure.
What Will Be Covered?
Workers’ compensation may compensate you for:
– Medical bills
– Lost wages
– Temporary or permanent disability
Prescription drugs are also covered by workers’ compensation. If you have to incur any additional personal expenses to obtain medical treatment, you may be able to get reimbursed for those expenses. For example, if you have to travel to a different city to receive a particular, necessary treatment, workers’ compensation might reimburse you for your mileage and lodging.In case of a death on the job, your family may be entitled to death benefits. This may include compensation for funeral expenses, medical bills, and lost wages.
When Will My Benefits Stop?
There are several scenarios in which your benefits could end. Most obviously, being approved to return to your prior job without restrictions would end the payment of income benefits. If you accept a different job that pays the equivalent of what your prior job did when you were injured, your benefits might stop. Also, your benefits may be canceled if you refuse to return to employment that is suitable and feasible given your abilities. Finally, SBWC may terminate your benefits at any time if you commit fraud or if you do not cooperate with the program’s requirements. Actions to warrant this could include refusing to submit to a drug test or refusing a periodic medical examination by the treating provider.
Injured on the job in Georgia? If so, then you might be eligible to file a workers’ compensation claim to get valuable financial benefits. However, workers’ compensation coverage in Georgia is complex, and claims can get denied for the most seemingly insignificant reasons. So, if your aim is to get these benefits, it is recommended that you speak with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney. Dozier Law has extensive experience with the Georgia workers’ compensation system, and in helping many injured workers obtain the benefits that they deserve. Reach out to Dozier Law at (888) 239-2129 or contact us online for a free consultation.