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Workers’ Compensation

Tell your employer that you’ve been injured.

Georgia law requires that an injured employee or a representative of the injured employee give notice of an injury to the employer immediately. Notice may be given orally within thirty days after the injury, after which time the notice must be in writing. O.C.G.A. § 34-9-80.

The injury doesn’t have to be sudden or disabling. If you are having trouble physically performing your job duties, tell your employer about it.

You should report any such injuries to your immediate supervisor or anyone with supervisory authority over you.

Notify the State Board of Workers’ Compensation that you have been injured.

Generally, an injured worker must report the injury to the Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation within one year of the date of injury on a form provides by the State Board of Workers’ Compensation for that purpose. Forms are available at the State Board of Workers’ Compensation website: http://sbwc.georgia.gov/forms. O.C.G.A. § 34-9-82.

What benefits are available to an injured worker under the Georgia Workers’ Compensation Act?

  1. Weekly income benefits for lost income during the time that the injured worker is totally or partially incapable of working due to his or her job related injury. Weekly benefits are two-thirds of the injured worker’s average weekly wage, with a maximum benefit which is set by statute. O.C.G.A. § 34-9-220, et seq. Benefits are potentially available for temporary total disability when the employee is unable to work at all due to the injury, for temporary partial disability when the employee is able to work but receives less than his or her pre injury wage, and permanent partial disability when appropriate. O.C.G.A. § 34-9-261, et seq.
  2. Medical, surgical and hospital care and other treatment, items and services which are prescribed by a licensed physician which the State Board of Workers’ Compensation determines to be reasonably required and appear likely to effect a cure, give relief, or restore the injured employee to suitable employment. O.C.G.A § 34-9-200.
  3. If the employee is killed in a work-related incident, benefits are paid to the employee’s dependents. O.C.G.A. § 34-9-265 and O.C.G.A. § 34-9-13.

How do I get medical treatment?

Every employer that is subject to the Georgia Workers’ Compensation Act is required to maintain a list of at least six physicians who are reasonably accessible to its employees. The employee may accept the services of a physician selected by the employer from the panel or may select another physician from the panel. The employer is required to post the list in prominent places upon the business premises, and must take all reasonable measures to ensure that the injured employee understands the function of the panel and give appropriate assistance in contacting panel physicians when necessary. O.C.G.A. § 34-9-201(b)(1).

If the injured employee is unable to make a selection of a physician from the panel due to an emergency or similarly justifiable reason, the employee may get appropriate immediate treatment so long as the employee is unable to select a physician from the panel. O.C.G.A. § 34-9-201(d).

What happens if my employer refuses to pay compensation for lost wages and/or medical benefits?

The injured employee (or the employee’s attorney) may file a request for hearing on a form WC 14 provided by the State Board of Workers’ Compensation for that purpose. O.C.G.A. § 34-9-100. A copy of that form must be mailed to the employer and the employer’s insurance company. Board Rule 82. The State Board of Workers’ Compensation will then assign the case to an administrative law judge for a hearing, usually held in the county in which the injury occurred.

When should I consult with an attorney and how much does it cost?

Even if income and medical benefits are being provided by the employer or its insurer, the injured worker is wise to seek a consultation with an attorney who is experienced in the practice of workers’ compensation and who devotes a substantial amount of his law practice to the representation of injured workers. Many attorneys (including this firm) provide those consultations without cost or obligation to the injured worker, and the consultation is confidential. NOT ALL ATTORNEYS ARE EXPERIENCED WORKERS’ COMPENSATION PRACTITIONERS AND THE EMPLOYEE SHOULD ASK ANY PROSPECTIVE ATTORNEY ABOUT HIS OR HER QUALIFICATIONS.

No attorney is allowed to collect from the injured employee any fee or gratuity in excess of $100.00 without the approval of the State Board of Workers’ Compensation, and in no event will the Board approve a fee in excess of twenty-five percent of the injured employee’s award of weekly benefits or settlement. O.C.G.A. § 34-9-108(a).

When an attorney is hired by an injured employee, the attorney must provide to the Board an employment contract signed by injured employee.