If you’ve been hurt while doing your job in Georgia, you are likely entitled to workers’ compensation. However, there are loopholes and exceptions, and trying to wade through and decipher all of Georgia’s workers’ compensation laws can be more painful than your injury.
In an effort to make things easier for you, here are the top ten FAQs about workers’ compensation in Georgia
Q: How long do I have to report an injury to my employer in Georgia?
In Georgia, you have 30 days after the date your injury happened to report it to your employer. It’s important to let them know as quickly as possible to get your workers’ compensation benefits started sooner.
Q: What type of workers’ comp benefits am I entitled to?
Typically you’re entitled to several basic benefits within workers’ compensation provisions in Georgia. These include:
- Wage compensation: Lost wages due to the injury can be compensated at the rate of two-thirds of your gross weekly salary. The maximum you’re allowed to receive (as of 2019) is $675/week. This amount only applies to those that have been deemed unable to work at all by an approved workers’ comp physician.
- Medical allowance: If you’re under workers’ comp in Georgia, you should not be responsible for any medical bills that are related to your injury. These should only be paid by your employer or your employer’s insurance.
- Prescription drug coverage: You should also never have to pay for any prescription medication a doctor has prescribed for your injury.
- Mileage reimbursement: You can get reimbursed for driving to and from the doctor, hospital, therapy, etc. at the rate of $0.40/mile.
- Death benefits: If you end up passing away due to a work-related injury, your immediate family can receive compensation for lost wages and funeral expenses.
Q: Can I start receiving workers’ comp benefits immediately after my injury?
Like anything else involving insurance companies, it can take a while to start receiving your workers’ compensation benefits. According to Georgia law, they have 21 days from the date of the accident to give you your first check. Insurance companies like to investigate the details of your case during this time to make sure you’re eligible to receive benefits.
Q: How long does workers’ comp last?
Timing depends mostly on how long your doctor feels you need to be out of work or limited in your work duties and hours. If and when your doctor clears you for normal work, you’ll stop receiving workers’ comp benefits within 10 days.
In a rare case, if you are permanently disabled due to loss of 2 limbs or both eyes, you could be eligible for catastrophic workers’ comp benefits, which last for your entire lifetime.
Q: What if my workers’ comp claim is denied or my employer refuses to pay?
This happens quite a lot, so don’t be discouraged. First, you’ll want to make sure you have an experienced attorney on your side. Second, you can appeal their decision before a judge. However, this does take several weeks (or months), so it delays your workers’ comp benefits for a while.
Q: Can I be fired while on workers’ comp in Georgia?
Technically…yes. You could be fired from your job while you’re out recovering from your injury. However, an employer is also required (depending on the extent of your injuries) to provide you with a job that is less demanding physically when you do return to work. Some employers may decide to keep you on for this job change and then fire you when you’re cleared to return to “normal” work.
Q: What should and shouldn’t I tell a workers’ comp doctor?
Honesty is the best policy with just about anything, and this is no exception. Be as accurate as you can when describing your symptoms, pain levels, limitations, etc. A doctor can usually tell if you’re telling the truth based on what they see, so they’ll likely call you out if you’re lying or exaggerating.
If you do get caught lying, you may not receive any workers’ comp benefits.
Q: If I return to work, can I still receive workers’ comp benefits?
If you’ve returned to normal work without any restrictions from your doctor, then no. You are no longer eligible for workers’ comp benefits. If you return to work with restrictions from your doctor, then you can continue to receive some benefits, but they may be reduced by the insurance company.
Q: When do I need to hire a workers’ comp attorney?
Most of the time, it can be helpful to have a workers’ comp attorney to help you through all the details of your claim. Usually, lawyers offer free consultations, so at the very least, you can go talk with one to see if they feel you need continued legal guidance.