Frequently Asked Questions About Workers’ Compensation
Answers you can trust from an experienced Atlanta attorney
If you’ve been hurt on the job, your employer is responsible for the cost of your injuries. That sounds so simple, and yet the laws and regulations surrounding workers’ compensation are complex. After an on-the-job injury, you may not know what to do next.
You can count on the workers’ compensation attorneys at Gary Martin Hays & Associates to guide you through this difficult process. Here are some of the most common questions injured workers have asked us over the years:
- How long do I have to report an on-the-job injury in Georgia?
- What counts as an ‘on the job’ injury as far as workers’ compensation is concerned?
- My employer says I’m responsible for my medical bills because the accident was my fault. Is that true?
- Will workers’ compensation pay for my lost wages?
- Do I have to see a company doctor for treatment? Can I get a second opinion?
- A contractor was involved in my on-the-job injury. What are my legal options?
- Do I need a lawyer to help with my claim?
These answers should give you a general idea of how to proceed with your workers’ compensation claim. For advice on your individual case, don’t hesitate to contact us. Call 1-800-898-HAYS.
In general, you have 30 days from the date of the injury – or, if the injury happened over a period of time, the day you become aware of the injury – to report your injury to your direct supervisor. Some employers may tell you that you cannot file for workers’ compensation benefits if you don’t report the injury immediately, but this is not true. However, the best practice is to report the injury as soon as possible.
An on-the-job injury is any injury you suffer during the scope of your employment. The injury need not be sustained on your employer’s premises – if you need to travel to meet with a client and sustain an injury while on the client’s property or are involved in a car accident during the trip, that would still be considered an on-the-job injury.
Your commute to and from work is generally not considered part of the scope of your employment. However, if your employer gives you specific instructions regarding the commute, you may be able to claim benefits if you are injured while following your employer’s instructions. For instance, if you are told to park in a specific lot across the street from your workplace, and you are then injured while crossing the street, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation.
Absolutely not. Workers’ compensation is essentially a no-fault system. Even if you caused your injuries, if they happened while you were on the job, your employer is required to pay for your medical bills and lost wages. There are exceptions to this general rule so please call us right away to discuss the specific factors of your claim.
Yes. Workers’ compensation pays two thirds of your average weekly wage, which is calculated based on all wages you received – including overtime, tips, bonuses and any other benefits – in the 13 weeks prior to the accident. There is currently a maximum of $575 per week.
Georgia law requires employers to post a “panel” of pre-approved physicians for you to see if you are injured on the job. The panel must meet the following legal requirements:
- It must be pink and printed on the most current poster.
- It must include at least six physicians.
- At least one doctor on the panel must be an orthopedic surgeon.
- At least one doctor on the panel must be a minority.
- The employer must take reasonable steps to make employees aware of the panel.
If your employer does not have a valid panel, you are free to see any doctor you choose. If your employer does have a valid panel posted in your workplace, then you are free to choose within the panel. Your employer does not have the right to tell you to see a particular doctor within that panel.
As long as your injury was sustained on the job, you can file for workers’ compensation benefits regardless of who was at fault. However, if a third party such as a contractor was responsible for your injuries, you can also file a personal injury claim against that third party. This claim may allow you to recover damages that are not covered by workers’ compensation, such as compensation for pain and suffering. You can file a workers’ compensation claim and a personal injury lawsuit in connection with the same incident – there is no need to choose one or the other.
We recommend talking to an attorney as soon as possible after your accident. Workers’ compensation insurance companies routinely pay injured workers less than they are owed – and they get away with it because so many workers don’t know their legal rights. With an experienced attorney from Gary Martin Hays & Associates on your side, you can rest assured that you are receiving all of the compensation you’re owed. We’ll handle your legal case so you can focus on what’s really important – recovering from your injuries and moving forward.