After suffering an injury at work, you probably have many questions. You might be wondering how long you have to report a work injury to your boss or how much time is there to file for workers’ compensation benefits?
It’s important to act quickly, otherwise, you run the risk of losing your ability to receive any medical treatment or other benefits for your work injuries. Contact our Atlanta workers compensation attorneys today to ensure you are not denied these vital benefits.
You Have 30 Days to Report a Work Injury*
If you are hurt at work in Georgia, the workers’ compensation laws require that you report the accident and injury to your employer within 30 days of the injury date.
You are lifting boxes and feel a “pop” in your back. You assume it is just a strain and hope it will get better on its own. Because you don’t think it is a big deal, you don’t mention it to your supervisor. But a few days later, your back starts to feel stiff and sore. Pain shoots down your leg. Worried, you report the back injury to your supervisor.
In the above example, the 30-day reporting requirement begins on the day the worker experienced the pain and when they first had a reason to believe they suffered a work-related injury. The deadline does not start on the day the worker felt the popping sensation from lifting the boxes.
In other words, the 30-day countdown does not begin until you realize that you are injured. Different rules apply to work injuries that aggravated a pre-existing condition over an extended period.
If Your Work Injury Developed Over Time
A work injury also doesn’t have to be an acute incident to be covered under Georgia’s workers’ compensation system. An on-the-job injury can be sustained over time.
Some injuries, such as carpal tunnel syndrome or repetitive use syndrome, can take weeks or months to manifest to the point where the injury causes a worker to become disabled from performing their job.
In such a situation, the actual “date of injury” for the 30-day notice period begins on the day the injured worker stopped being able to work due to the injury.
Who Can Provide Notice of the Injury to the Employer?
Notice of the injury can be given by the injured employee or anyone acting as their “representative.”
If they are severely injured or unable to properly communicate, the worker can designate a person to notify the employer on their behalf, such as a spouse or family member. We often see this when the person is unable to communicate due to the severity of the injuries.
Who Do You Tell About the Work Accident and Injury?
Notify your immediate supervisor or someone in management at the job site of your accident and injury.
After that, you need to file a written claim with the State Board of Workers’ Compensation. This claim form lets the board know about your accident and injury, as well as whether or not you are seeking any type of wage or medical benefits.
Filing a Claim With the State Board of Workers’ Compensation
In general, an injured worker has one year from the date of the accident to file a workers’ compensation claim with the state board in Georgia.
You are hurt at work and immediately report the accident and injury to your supervisor. You never receive any medical treatment or workers’ compensation income benefits from the employer or their insurer for your injuries. Six months later, the problem becomes more annoying, and you decide to pursue treatment for your injuries. However, the employer refuses to authorize any medical treatment because of how much time has passed since your injury.
Does the statute of limitations prevent you from filing a written claim with the state board and seeking medical benefits from the employer?
No. You reported the accident and injury to your employer in a timely manner. Even though you did not ask to have medical treatment initially for your injury, you are still well within the one-year limitation period for filing a written claim with the board.
Additional Workers’ Compensation Benefit Deadlines
If you never receive any wage benefits from the employer/insurer for your on-the-job injuries, this does not prevent you from receiving medical treatment benefits. However, to preserve your claim, you must receive treatment from the workers’ compensation doctors at least once per year to keep your medical claims open.
You can also file a notice with the state board within two years from the date of payment of your last income benefit.
There is a time limit on filing a written claim for workers’ compensation income benefits. You must file your written claim for income benefits within two years of the last receipt of workers’ compensation income benefits for the same work injury.
Statute of Limitation Exceptions
There are some exceptions to the rules and laws governing workers’ compensation, so it is highly recommended that you always consult an experienced Atlanta workers’ compensation lawyer to understand your rights under Georgia law.
Do not delay in calling an attorney and filing a claim. Failure to act quickly could limit or completely negate your ability to pursue and receive your rightful workers’ compensation benefits.
For a free consultation, call us at (770) 934-8000.
This post features an excerpt from Gary Martin Hays’ best-selling book The Authority on Workers’ Compensation in Georgia.