Atlanta workers’ comp lawyers can help you collect your workers’ compensation benefits.
Let’s say you’ve been injured on the job and filed a workers’ compensation claim. You need either Temporary Total Disability (TTD), Temporary Partial Disability (TPD), or you’re seeking benefits for a partial or total permanent job-related disability.
But the insurance company has denied your claim.
Or maybe the insurance company isn’t authorizing your needed medical treatment.
What if they aren’t sending your checks on time?
What if you’re injured so badly you can’t return to your job, or your employer fires you? Or if you suspect the insurance company or employer is mistreating or taking advantage of you?
These are all scenarios for which hiring a workers’ compensation lawyer can help.
Yet, there are also situations when you may not need a lawyer to file your claim. It’s important to understand the basic process of filing a claim to give yourself the best chance of collecting your benefits.
Important questions to answer during this process include: How do I file for workers’ compensation? When am I eligible to file a claim? How long will this process take? When should I manage the process myself, and when do I need to hire a workers’ comp lawyer in Atlanta?
Workers’ Compensation Eligibility in Atlanta, Georgia
Georgia is a “employment at-will” state, also referred to as “right to work.” This means that–in most cases–your employer can terminate you for any legal reason, as long as you don’t have an employment contract that states otherwise. However, even if you are fired you should still be able to receive the workers’ compensation benefits for which you qualify.
If you suspect you’ve been fired as a result of a workplace accident, it may be time to speak with an attorney about your benefits. An initial consultation with Affleck & Gordon is free.
You’re typically eligible for workers’ compensation benefits if:
- You suffer an injury or personal injury arising out of an employment accident
- You aggravate a pre-existing condition, for as long as the aggravation occurs
- You suffer from a disease that results naturally and unavoidably from a work-related accident
- An accident occurs while performing your job duties, even if nothing unusual or unexpected happens, like a fall
- An accident happens on the employer’s premises, or . . .
- your employer furnishes transportation as an incident of your employment
- you were performing some act permitted or required by your employer, which was beneficial to the employer, while going to or coming from work
- you are on call and either furnished transportation by the employer or reimbursed by the employer for your transportation costs
- you were injured while traveling from one workplace to another
- you were going to and from parking lots provided by your employer
I’m Eligible for Workers’ Compensation. How Do I File?
Once you meet the eligibility requirements for workers’ compensation, it’s time to file a claim to seek settlement. Here are the steps to beginning that process.
Provide notice of a job-related injury to your employer immediately or as soon as possible. In Georgia, you have 30 days to report an accident to a boss, foreman, or supervisor; waiting beyond that will jeopardize your benefits. However, your employer may require you to report within 24 hours to submit to a drug test. Regardless, it’s always best to report a workplace accident right away.
Your employer should call the insurance company and notify them of the accident, ideally with you on present to verify information. If it’s an emergency, they should call 911 first.
File a Workers’ Compensation form WC-14 with the Georgia State Board of Workers' Compensation. This form should be completed and submitted to your employer. You can download the WC-14 form here. For additional questions about filing, in the metro Atlanta dialing area call (404) 656-3818 and outside the metro Atlanta area call l-800-533-0682. You can also write to the State Board of Workers' Compensation at the following address: State Board of Workers' Compensation, 270 Peachtree St., NW, Atlanta, GA 30303-1299.
Request medical treatment. You need an authorized treating doctor to give you a work restriction or a totally out of work statement to provide your employer. Your employer should provide you a list of eligible medical service providers. All authorized bills from your doctor, hospital, physical therapist, pharmacy, and necessary travel expenses, as well as approved medical and vocational rehabilitation, should be covered by the worker’s compensation insurer.
How Long Does the Process Take Before I Get My Benefits?
Your employer and their insurer have 21 days to decide whether they will accept or deny your case. That’s why it’s critical to report a workplace accident as soon as possible as well as seek medical care. This documentation is needed before you can receive any benefits.
The first seven days is a waiting period. If you return to work after seven days, you will not recover that period of benefits. You must be out of work for 21 consecutive days before you’re entitled to receive your first week of benefits.
While employers or insurers may technically be able to pay the second week, most employees have to wait three weeks to receive any benefits.
When Do I Need an Atlanta Workers’ Comp Lawyer?
There are times when the insurance company accepts responsibility for the claim, pays medical bills, and pays disability benefits. In these instances, you may not need to hire an attorney.
However, you may need an attorney if:
- you need consultation on how to negotiate a lump sum or structured settlement
- you anticipate a lawyer can help maximize your potential benefits
- the insurance company denied your claim
- the insurance company doesn’t authorize medical treatment or send weekly checks on time
- your injury prevents you from returning to the job you worked before
- you feel mistreated by the insurance company or your employer
- your employer has fired you
Attorneys can help you evaluate your claim, organize the most important facts of your medical history, and help you present a strong, compelling case that can lead to a successful settlement.
If your workers comp claim has been denied, or you’re thinking about filing and don’t know where to start, Affleck and Gordon can help. We’ve been helping people in Georgia just like you for over 45 years.