Most of the time when someone thinks about being compensated after an injury in Georgia they think about filing a lawsuit. Visions of lawyers, judges, juries, and courtrooms may run through your mind. Well in Georgia, it is a little different. In Georgia, a workers' compensation case is a hybrid. It begins as an insurance claim, that if not handled properly, can turn into a lawsuit.
In order to fulfill the hybrid insurance/legal requirements the workers' compensation act, the legislature created the Georgia State Board of Workers' Compensation. The State Board's duties include handling the insurance claim portion, as well as any claim that turn into a lawsuit. Read further for a more in depth explanation on the structure of the Georgia State Board of Workers' Compensation and how it works.
Established in 1920 by the Georgia legislature, the Georgia State Board of Workers' Compensation is tasked with implementing Georgia's workers compensation act. The Board serves over 3.8 million Georgia workers as well as 250,000 Georgia employers. The State Board is funded by assessments from insurance companies and self-insured employers.
The Georgia State Board of Workers' Compensation is tasked with implementing all aspects of the workers' compensation act. This includes keeping records of claims, conducting hearings, approving settlements, and investigating fraud.
No. The Georgia State Board of Workers' Compensation is an administrative body that is limited in it's authority by law passed by the legislature and signed by the governor.
Yes. The legislature has given the State Board permission to pass rules to help implement laws passed by the legislature. The Board generally updates the rules yearly, with new rules coming into effect on July 1.
Since 1994, any changes or addition to the Board Rules are supposed to be vetted and approved by an entity known as the Advisory Council. The Advisory Council is a group of leaders from all aspects of workers' compensation--insurance, labor, medical, legal, small business, and business. This includes lawyers, insurance executives, business/ corporate representatives, medical providers, and members of the State Board. The Advisory Council is composed of 6 committees. These include:
Every year the Advisory Council meets during the first week of October to come up with changes to the Board Rules, recommendations to send to the legislature for changes to the workers' compensation act, and addressing any other concerns with the entire workers compensation system. Since it's inception there has been a "gentleman's agreement" to only propose Rule changes, and changes to the law, which are agreed to by consensus amongst members of the Advisory Council. Although recently the State Board has chosen to make some changes over the objections of certain groups. Our firm has been fortunate enough to have one of our lawyers, Joseph Brown, appointed by the Chairman of the State Board as a member of the Advisory Council since 2019. As such, Joseph spends the first week of October fighting to improve the types of benefits and medical treatment workers injured workers are able to receive.
In the event a party believes the other side is not performing their duty involving a claim, the aggrieved party can request a hearing in front of an administrative law judge ("ALJ"). An ALJ is able to conduct court hearings where they receive evidence and testimony, evaluate legal arguments, and issue legal opinions. These hearings are similar to what you might think of, when you think of court. The main difference is there is no jury. The ALJ is the ultimate decision maker on who is right and who is wrong in any workers' compensation dispute.
Yes. You can appeal a decision of an ALJ to the Appellate Division. The Appellate Division consists of 3 judges (Chairman and 2 Directors) who will hear the appeal and issue a decision.
You can appeal any decision by the Appellate Division to the Superior Court of the county where the work injury occurred. After the Superior Court, a case can be appealed to the Georgia Court of Appeals, Supreme Court of Georgia, or ultimately the Supreme Court of the United States. It is important to note that you have a right to appeal any decision up to the level of the Superior Court. Any appeal to the Georgia Court of Appeals, Supreme Court of Georgia, or Supreme Court of the United States is only allowed if the given Court grants an application for appeal, also knows as granting "certioari".
If you have been injured at work and need help navigating the winding road of Georgia's workers' compensation system, give our lawyers a call today at 770-214-2500 for a free consultation.
After a work injury in Georgia, it is normal to have questions and concerns. Below are answers to some of the more frequently asked questions our clients have about workers' compensation following a work accident in Georgia.
Workers’ compensation is an accident insurance program paid by your employer which may provide you with medical, rehabilitation and income benefits if you are injured on the job. It also provides benefits to your dependents if you die as a result of a job-related injury.
Georgia's workers' compensation act is a section of laws contained within the Official Code of Georgia. The workers compensation act is found under Title 34, Section 9 and currently contains 432 sub-sections.
No. Only employers who have 3 or more employees are required to obtain workers' compensation insurance.
No. Railroad workers, domestic servants, and farm laborers are specifically excluded from the protections afforded under Georgia's workers' compensation act. Additionally, independent contractors are not covered unless it can be shown that the employer exercised a sufficient right of control over the independent contractor at the time of a work accident.
Possibly. Georgia residents who are injured while on the job in another state are subject to Georgia's workers compensation as as long as their employment meets certain requirements. These requirement include: the employee was hired while living in Georgia, the employer’s place of business or the residence of the employee is in the state of Georgia, and the job you were hired for was not exclusively for work outside of the state of Georgia.
You are covered from the first minute you start work for an employer.
All Georgia employers are required to post information identifying medical providers you can choose to see following a work injury. This includes:
You are entitled to medical treatment for your injury immediately. You are entitled to weekly income benefits if you are unable to work for more than 7 days. Your first check should be mailed to you within 21 days after the first day you missed work.
If you are injured at work in Georgia, you are entitled to receive medical and income benefits for up to 400 weeks (a little more than 7 1/2 years). If your injury is deemed "catastrophic" in nature, you may be entitled to lifetime benefits.
You are entitled to receive two-thirds (2/3 or 66%) of your average weekly wage, with a maximum benefit amount currently being $800.00 per week.
You will receive what are called permanent partial disability ("PPD") benefits based upon an amount set by law. For example, if you lost an arm or leg, you will receive benefits of 225 weeks.
You are eligible to receive a reduced benefit called temporary partial disability. The amount you receive is based upon your earnings prior to your injury, and can be received for a maximum of 350 weeks following your injury. The maximum temporary partial disability benefit is currently $533.00 per week .
While tough to think about, it is possible that a work accident can cost you your life. In these terrible instances, your dependents will receive two-thirds of your average weekly wage or a maximum of $800.00 per week for death. Your dependents include your surviving spouse/partner, children/step-children, any other family member who can prove you supported them financially at the time of their fatal work accident. A widowed spouse/partner, with no children, is limited to a total amount of $320,000.00 unless he or she remarries or cohabitates in a meretricious relationship. Children are allowed to receive benefits until they turn 18 years old, unless they can show they are attending college, which allows them to receive benefits until the age of 22.
If you have been injured at work give our lawyers a call today at 770-214-2500 for a free consultation.
If you are injured on the job in Georgia, it is important to perform the following steps in order to have a successful claim. Below is a checklist of things to do if you are injured while working in Georgia.
In Georgia, you have 30 days to report your injury to your employer. Although 30 days is the maximum amount of time you can wait to report an injury, the old adage "the sooner, the better" applies. The sooner you report an injury to your employer, the sooner the workers' compensation system can kick in to provide you with medical treatment, and possibly replacement of lost income.
It is also important to report ALL injuries, even if you believe they are small or will heal on there own. Injuries, particularly the older you get, can be tricky. Things that may have healed with rest when you were younger, might now require medical intervention. So it is extremely important to report ALL injuries, no matter how small. Reporting the injury protects you and is the first step in bringing a successful workers compensation claim.
After reporting an injury, you should always ask for medical treatment. Whether it be with a plant nurse, or with a workers' compensation doctor, it is important to have any injury evaluated quickly. Evidence supports the fact that quick medical treatment results in faster recovery time. Additionally, medical providers generally keep detailed records, which will help prove your injury was the result of working rather than being caused by something else.
Most injuries are initially treated conservatively. This type of treatment includes medication, rest, physical therapy, and work restrictions (i.e. no lifting more than 10 pounds). It is important to follow your medical providers instructions in order to increase the chances of making a full recovery. This includes telling your employer that you can not perform your regular job in the event a doctor places you on work restrictions.
Georgia workers' compensation cases can hinge on whether or not you have proper documentation for an injury. It is extremely important to document everything relating to your work accident and injury. So be sure to keep any documents you receive from your employer and any medical providers. It may also be beneficial to start a journal, or take notes, regarding medical treatment you receive and the types of symptoms your injury is causing.
Georgia's workers' compensation system is a specialized part of the law. As such, many of the issues involving a workers' compensation claim are unique and different from common law used in personal injury claims. Due to this specialization, it is crucial to hire an experienced workers' compensation lawyer to maximize the compensation and medical treatment you receive following an accident.
If you, or a loved one, has been injured while working in Georgia. Give our experienced lawyers a call today for a free consultation at (770) 214-2500.
Workplace injuries in Georgia can be devastating and financially costly for employees and employers alike. Even a minor injury that forces an employee to miss work, or limits their ability to perform their normal job duties, can have negative consequences for both employees and businesses. Here a some of the most common work injuries we see through Georgia.
Injuries related to slips and falls are among the most common workplace injuries, accounting for approximately 33 percent of all worker injuries. Falls at work can result from a number of factors, including wet or slippery floors, poor lighting, uneven surfaces, hidden or misplaced cords and other obstacles.
These injuries can vary in their severity but may result in:
Workers across many industries are at risk of being hit by equipment or falling objects, but these injuries occur most frequently at construction sites, factories, and warehouses. These accidents can result in serious injuries that often lead to lengthy recovery periods and significant medical treatment, including surgery and rehabilitation. These injuries can also lead to 3rd party claims against individuals or companies responsible.
Repetitive motion injuries, also know as cumulative trauma, injuries are a common occupational hazard in all industries. In particular, manufacturing and assembly line workers, as well as office workers who use a computer are at an increased risk of developing repetitive motion injuries as a result of their job duties.
Repetitive motion injuries can include conditions such as carpal tunnel syndrome and tendonitis. While these conditions can often be treated conservatively, which means without surgery, theycan be extremely painful and cause decreased mobilization over time.
Lifting injuries can occur anytime someone picks up, carries, or handles a heavy or oversized objects. Lifting is a common activity in almost every industry, and it presents a risk of injury when done improperly or without proper safety equipment.
While these injuries are rarely fatal, they can result in long-term back, shoulder, knee, and hip injuries that make it difficult to carry out normal work duties. When lifting objects of significant size or weight, is is extremely important to observe the proper technique and use any safety devices provided by an employer.
Many industries involve transportation, including taxi services, mail and delivery services, schools and construction. Now that home-delivery services are becoming increasingly popular, more drivers are on the roads than ever before, making accidents inevitable.
These accidents can result in severe injuries that can lead to temporary or permanent disabilities which require extensive medical care. This is particularly true if the accident involves large trucks or buses.
If you have been injured at work give us a call at (770) 214-2500 for a free consultation.
There are many types of Georgia workers' compensation injuries. These can range from the typical back strain from lifting a heavy object, all the way to catastrophic injuries which prevent an injured worker from ever working again in the future. Today's post will discuss common work related injuries and how they are handled in Georgia's workers' compensation system.
Workers' compensation is a no fault system, so in general, as long as a worker is injured while performing their job the injury is covered.
A cumulative trauma injury is an injury that is not the result of a single accident, but occurs over time. A common type of cumulative trauma injury is carpal tunnel syndrome. Carpal tunnel syndrome generally occurs as a result of repetitive gripping, grasping, and use of your hands. A worker suffering from this type of injury generally does not notice any pain at first, but as they continue to to perform repetitive motions with certain body parts they begin to experience pain or numbness. These injuries can often be treated with rest or modified/light work activity, but may end up requiring surgical intervention. It is important that you report any type of pain or discomfort caused by any repetitive work, as a paper trail can assist in having your cumulative workers' compensation claim approved.
In Georgia, a catastrophic workers' compensation injury typically refers to a severe and life-altering injury. These injuries usually prevent an individual from ever being able to work again in the future. In Georgia, some injuries are automatically considered catastrophic. These include:
Additionally, any injury which would prevent someone from performing their past job, or any other job available in decent numbers, can be deemed "catastrophic." In addition to rehabilitation benefits not normally offered to an injured worker, individuals suffering a catastrophic injury are eligible to receive replacement income and medical benefits for the rest of their life. In contrast to the typical workers' compensation injury which has a 400 week limit on replacement income and medical benefits.
An occupational disease in Georgia, refers to a medical condition or illness that arises as a direct result of an employee's work or exposures in the workplace. These diseases are typically caused by prolonged or repeated exposure to hazardous conditions, substances, that are specific to the employee's job. For example, a fireman who develops asthma due to repeated smoke exposure. Occupational diseases may not manifest immediately but can develop over time due to cumulative exposure.
Common examples of occupational diseases in various industries include:
In Georgia's, for a disease to fall under the workers' compensation act, it generally needs to meet certain criteria, which may include:
As previously mentioned, Georgia's workers compensation law is considered a "no-fault" system. As long as the injury occurs while performing your job, then it is covered. This includes reinjuring or aggravating a pre-existing injury or condition. For example, say a worker injured their back 5 years ago and underwent surgery to repair the injury. After a course of rehab, the individual returns to work performing a lighter duty job for the next 5 years. Unfortunately, the worker injures their back again lifting a pallet at work. Under Georgia law, the employer/insurer is responsible for providing medical treatment that returns the injured worker back to the condition they were in before the latest back injury. In this case, the employer/insurer is responsible for providing medical treatment to the injured worker until the worker is capable of performing the light duty work which cause their latest back injury.
While most injuries that occur while working in Georgia are covered by workers' compensation, there are a few specific injuries which are barred. These include:
If you or a loved one has suffered a work injury in Georgia, give our lawyers a call at (770) 214-2500 for a free consultation.