Along with a duty to represent our clients, all of us at Smith, Wallis & Scott, LLC - SWS Accident & Injury Lawyers feel we owe a duty to give back to our community whenever possible. For the 2023-2024 school year we have the pleasure of sponsoring the teachers of the month at each of the Carrollton City Schools. Every month we present the teachers of the month at Carrollton Elementary School, Carrollton Upper Elementary School, Carrollton Middle School, and Carrollton High School with a check to show our gratitude for their hard work educating the children in our community. Afterwards, we take a picture of the winners and place them on a digital billboard to help introduce our community to these wonderful educators. Below are some examples of our billboard designs recognizing the winners.
A special thank you to Superintendent Dr. Mark Albertus and principals Dr. Kylie Carroll (Carrollton Elementary), Tabitha Walker (Carrollton Upper Elementary), Eric Simmons (Carrollton Middle), and Ian Lyle (Carrollton High) for allowing us to support these wonderful educators.
Navigating workers’ compensation proves intricate, often clouded by misinformation and uncertainty, especially within Georgia's legal landscape where individuals may inadvertently err due to limited knowledge or confusion regarding federal and state statutes.
Immigrant laborers encounter heightened hurdles, contending with language barriers and unfamiliarity with the legal framework of their adopted nation. This piece endeavors to dispel prevalent misconceptions encircling workers’ compensation in Georgia.
Through debunking these fallacies and offering lucid elucidations, we seek to embolden both immigrant and native workers to comprehend their entitlements more fully. By the conclusion of this discourse, you will possess a firm grasp of the fundamental tenets of workers’ compensation and a heightened awareness of the safeguards afforded to you as an employee in Georgia.
This is incorrect. In the realm of Georgia workers’ compensation, a "no-fault" principle reigns, rendering fault or negligence largely inconsequential in ascertaining eligibility for benefits. Should the injury or illness stem from work-related circumstances, you may qualify for workers’ compensation benefits, irrespective of culpability.
Workers’ compensation benefits extend to all injuries incurred in the course of employment, regardless of their magnitude. Whether you sustain a minor strain or a severe accident, you may qualify for medical care, rehabilitation, and wage supplementation under Georgia’s workers’ compensation framework.
Having pre-existing conditions doesn't automatically disqualify you from accessing workers’ compensation benefits. If a work-related injury worsens or aggravates a pre-existing condition, you may still qualify for assistance. The aim of workers’ compensation is to address work-related injuries, regardless of existing health conditions.
It's essential to debunk the myths and misunderstandings surrounding workers’ compensation, particularly for workers in Georgia. Understanding the laws and institutions safeguarding employees, the interplay between federal and local regulations, and the rights of immigrant workers empowers individuals to navigate the system confidently.
Remember, workers’ compensation serves as a vital safety net, ensuring that workers receive the necessary care and benefits in cases of work-related injuries or illnesses.
This is incorrect. Promptly reporting your work-related injury or illness is essential, even if you are currently undergoing medical treatment or unable to work. You must inform your employer as soon as possible following a work accident to secure your eligibility for benefits. Timely notification initiates the claims procedure and guarantees access to medical treatment and income replacement benefits.
Workers’ compensation extends its coverage to include occupational illnesses, which can manifest over time due to work-related factors. Examples of occupational illness include respiratory ailments, specific cancers stemming from workplace exposures, infections, etc. Eligibility for medical treatment, wage replacement, and additional benefits is possible in Georgia if you suffer from an occupational illness.
If you have been injured at work give our lawyers a call today at (770) 214-2500 for a free consultation.
You may already be familiar with how a law is passed in Georgia. First, a bill is passed by both parts of the state legislature (House of Representatives and Senate). The bill is then sent to the governor to sign. If the governor signs the bill, it becomes law. This is same method established by the Georgia Constitution in 1789 (with minor changes made since that time). It is a tried and true method, but have you ever wondered how a bill makes it to the legislature to begin with? Below is a description about how changes to the law involving Georgia's Workers' Compensation Act occur and the people responsible for submitting those changes.
In 1992, the Georgia General Assembly endured a particularly divisive legislative session when multiple issues emerged in competing bills filed on behalf of stakeholders with opposing interests in the Georgia workers' compensation system. Governor Zell Miller responded by calling then State Board of Workers' Compensation (SBWC) Chairman Hal Dawkins to ask if there could be a better way to evaluate proposed legislation on workers' compensation. This incident gave birth to the current Chairman's Advisory Council, replacing the prior 10-member statutory Governor's Workers' Compensation Advisory Council. The newly formed Advisory Council, with a membership that today includes 91 people, is organized around six committees which focus on specific areas of Georgia's approximately $2 billion workers' compensation industry and its administration. Members of the Advisory Council are well versed in one or more aspects of workers' compensation and bring their individual expertise to the table to discuss and vet workers' compensation legislation, rules, medical treatment/expenses, and all other issues that impact injured workers, employers, insurance companies, and claims/benefit levels.
The six committees and their mission statements are:
To propose and advance legislative enhancements to the Georgia workers' compensation system, to oppose unwise legislative initiatives adversely affecting the Georgia workers' compensation system, and to assist the Georgia Legislature and SBWC in otherwise reviewing, considering, and taking appropriate action on legislative proposals. The Legislative Committee keeps the House and Senate Committee of jurisdiction apprised of the work of the Advisory Council.
To improve and enhance the Georgia workers' compensation system by continually reviewing and recommending necessary changes to the Rules and Forms of the SBWC and by facilitating the Alternative Dispute Resolution process to assist in the more efficient and effective administration of the Workers' Compensation Act. The Rules & Mediation Committee also keeps the House and Senate committees of jurisdiction apprised of the work of the Advisory Council.
To advise the SBWC on the best ways to establish and maintain a system that provides excellent, timely and cost-effective care for the injured workers in Georgia, while also balancing the needs of the employers, employees, and providers.
To be an advocate and consultative resource for the licensure and self-insured employer programs and the SBWC. To work in collaboration with the SBWC to advocate for the accountability, efficiency and security of the licensure and self-insured employers in Georgia. To propose changes and recommendations in the processes, procedures, rules, statutes, and licensure matters to provide for a more efficient workers' compensation system for medical providers, insurers, and employers in the State of Georgia.
To provide advice to the SBWC regarding statutory & regulatory initiatives that support and encourage the appropriate utilization of rehabilitation and managed care to provide the most effective medical care and path to return to work for Georgia's injured workers. One of our own lawyers, Joseph Brown, has proudly served on this committee for the past 5 years.
To provide positive and proactive education to the participants in the Georgia workers' compensation system through all available forms of communication and to prepare regional educational seminars on an annual basis.
If you have been injured at work, give our lawyers a call today at 770-214-2500 for a free consultation.
An insurance company’s primary goal is to maximize profits for its shareholders. The main way they do this is by minimizing the amount they pay out in claims. Some workers’ compensation insurance companies use delay tactics to slow down the claims process, hoping claimants will eventually give up or accept lowball settlement offers. Below are some of the more common tactics seen in Georgia workers' compensation claims.
When communication falls by the wayside, it compromises your claim. Some adjusters will refuse to answer emails or phone calls promptly to either slow down the claim process, or because they are over worked. The best way to respond to this type of behavior is to keep detailed records of all communication between yourself and the insurance company. Note the dates and times of your requests for information, and keep all written correspondence as proof of lack of communication.
Insurance companies do not want to pay for ANYTHING. Sometimes an adjuster might delay your claim by disputing your injuries or requiring you to undergo multiple medical examinations by doctors chosen and paid for by the insurance company, claiming that pre-existing conditions are responsible for the injury, or trying to prove any injury was caused by a non-work-related event. If an injured worker provides documentation from a personal doctor, workers’ comp adjusters may try to contact the injured worker’s physician directly with “follow-up questions,” when really they are attempting to discredit the doctor’s findings and downplay the severity of the injury.
Even if the claim is ultimately accepted, the punishment for unreasonably delaying/denying a claim is generally not steep enough to prevent this type of behavior. Yet another reason to hire an experienced Georgia workers' compensation lawyer as quickly as possible following a work accident.
It is rarely in your best interest to provide an insurer with a recorded statement before speaking to or hiring a lawyer. An insurer can use your words against you to limit your benefits, or possibly deny your workers’ compensation claim entirely. Consult an attorney immediately if an insurance company asks you for a recorded statement.
Your employer might tempt you to return to work by offering you a light-duty job. However, accepting this type of offer could be used as evidence against you in your workers’ compensation claim. For instance, an adjuster might argue that since you can return to work in a light-duty capacity, you can’t be too seriously hurt, and your workers’ compensation benefits should be reduced or denied.
Medical providers expect payment for their services. However, some adjusters might delay payment to providers or claim they are waiting on authorization to avoid covering your medical expenses. Some adjusters could even argue that specific medical treatments are unnecessary, meaning workers’ compensation benefits won’t cover them. Delaying payment for medical bills can have multiple negative impacts, including a downgrade of your credit rating.
At SWS Accident & Injury Lawyers we are committed to helping you understand your legal rights and fighting against these common delay strategies. If you are experiencing unnecessary insurance delays after a work-related accident, now is the time to get legal help. Give our lawyers a call today at 770-214-2500 for a free consultation.
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.
What happens if I miss time from work due to a work related injury in Georgia? If you are injured due to a work accident, and are forced to miss time from your job, you are entitled to be paid income replacement benefits. The types of income replacement benefits available include temporary total disability benefits ("TTD"), temporary partial disability benefits ("TPD"), and permanent partial disability benefits ("PPD").
Temporary total disability, also known as TTD benefits, are available if an injured worker is unable to work at all. Additionally, TTD benefits may be available if an injured Georgia worker is given work restrictions by their treating physician, and the employer is unable to accommodate the work restrictions. For example, if a physician places an injured worker on restrictions of lifting no more than 10 pounds, but the employer does not have a job available that can be performed without lifting more than 10 pounds, the injured worker would be entitled to receive TTD benefits.
Temporary partial disability benefits, also knows as TPD benefits, are available if an injured worker earns less money as a result of a work accident. For example, say an injured worker normally works 50 hours per week, which results in 10 hours of overtime. Following a work accident, the injured worker is only able to work 30 hours per week (because they are only physically able to perform 30 hours of work per week, or because their employer only schedules them to work for 30 hours per week.) In this case, the injured worker is entitled to receive TPD benefits that make up two-thirds of the difference in their pre-injury and post-injury earnings.
Permanent partial disability benefits, also known as PPD benefits, are available to an injured worker to compensate for permanent loss of an injured body part. In the event a physician says there is no additional medical treatment available that can improve an injured workers condition, and the injured worker continues to be limited physically due to the work injury, the treating physician will give the injured worker an impairment rating. The rating, usually given in a percentage of a body part (i.e. 5% to the arm, or 7% to the lower extremity), is then converted to a number of weeks based on a chart found in O.C.G.A. §34-9-263. For example, say an injured worker is given a 5% PPD rating to their arm. Looking at the chart below we see an arm is eligible for a maximum of 225 weeks of benefits. 5% of 225 = 11.25. So in this scenario, an injured worker would be entitled to PPD benefits in the amount of 11.25 weeks worth of income benefits.
|Body part injured
|Maximum weeks allowed for PPD Benefits
|1st (index) finger
|2nd (middle) finger
|3rd (ring) finger
|4th (little) finger
|Great (big) toe 30
|Loss of hearing (one ear)/total industrial
|Loss of hearing (both ears)/total industrial
Georgia law requires an employer/insurer send weekly checks to an injured worker who is unable to work, or who now earns less, due to their work injury. If the payment is late, it is possible that the employer/insurer also owe an additional 15% late payment penalty.
An injured Georgia worker is entitled to receive 2/3 of their average pre-injury wage. In order to calculate the injured workers average pre-injury weekly wage, Georgia law requires the use of injured workers earnings for the 13 weeks preceding the injury. Included in these earnings are overtime, commission, and other monetary benefits provided by an employer. As of July 1, 2023, the maximum weekly TTD is $800, while the maximum weekly TPD benefit is $533, and maximum PPD benefit is $800 per week. The maximum cap on weekly benefits has changed over time. The chart below demonstrates the applicable weekly benefit cap based on the date of the injury.
|Date of Injury
|Maximum TTD weekly payment
|Maximum TPD weekly payment
|Maximum PPD weekly payment
|July 1, 2023 - present
|July 1, 2022 – June 30, 2023
|July 1, 2019 – June 30, 2022
|July 1, 2016 – June 30, 2019
|July 1, 2015 – June 30, 2016
For example, a worker who earns $900 per week is entitled to receive TTD benefits in the amount of $600 per week until they are able to physically return to work. This is because $600 is 2/3 of their pre-injury average weekly wage.
Another example would be an injured worker who earns $1,500 per week. Although 2/3 of their average weekly wage is $1,000, Georgia law caps the weekly benefit at $800. So in this scenario, the injured worker would only be entitled to receive $800 per week in TTD benefits.
An injured Georgia worker can receive TTD benefits for a maximum of 400 weeks following their work injury. The maximum time period to receive TPD benefits is 350 weeks from the date of the injury.
Georgia's workers' compensation law is very specialized and nuanced. It is extremely important have an experienced Georgia workers' compensation lawyer to help maximize the value of your case and ensure you receive all the benefits you are entitled. Give our battle tested lawyers a call today for a free consultation 770-214-2500.
If you are injured while at work in Georgia, your injury is covered under Georgia’s Workers’ Compensation Act (O.C.G.A. § 34-9). This section of Georgia law covers everything from replacing your income if you are unable to work, to the types of medical treatment you are authorized to receive. The State Board of Workers’ Compensation is the entity that is charged with enforcing the Georgia workers’ compensation act.
In Georgia, all claims are filed electronically through a system called ICMS. It is the responsibility of your employer, or their insurance company, to file a claim with the State Board when they are notified of a work injury. If the employer/insure fail to file a claim, it is possible to file yourself, but it can be a daunting task, and is best handled by an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer.
Following a work injury in Georgia, you have 1 year from the date of the accident to file a claim. In practice, the faster you file a claim following a work injury, the better the outcome will usually be.
Georgia is an at-will employment state. This means that an employer can terminate an employee at any time and for almost any reason. (Examples of reasons you can not be terminated include your sex, race, religious beliefs, and a few other exceptions based on federal law). Thus, you technically can be terminated for filing a workers’ compensation claim. In reality, most employers will not terminate someone solely for being injured on the job.
A workers’ compensation lawyer’s main job to ensure that the employer/insurer provide all of the benefits to the injured worker allowed under law. This includes ensuring the injured worker receives a replacement for any lost income and receives any appropriate medical treatment indicated by their treating physician.
Every workers’ compensation claim is different, which makes it difficult to evaluate the worth of a claim without knowing specific facts. That being said, in 2022, there were more than 120,000 workers’ compensation claims filed and insurance companies paid out more than $1.5 billion dollars in benefits for those claims. (https://sbwc.georgia.gov/organization/about-state-board-workers-compensation/statistics). Thus, in 2022, an average of approximately $12,500 was paid on each claim. Understand this is just an average, as our firm has settled workers’ compensation claims ranging from $3,000 to $7.95 million dollars.
There are 3 main benefits available to an employee has been injured at work. These are income replacement benefits, medical benefits, and permanent impairment benefits.
You can see your personal doctor for a work injury, but you will be required to pay for any treatment made by your personal doctor yourself, unless previously authorized by the employer/insurer. Under Georgia’s workers’ compensation act, the employer/insurer are required to provide a list of at least 6 unassociated physicians. This list is called the panel of physicians. The injured worker can pick any physician from the panel, and the employer/insurer are required to pay for any reasonable and necessary treatment recommended by this authorized physician. The chosen physician thus becomes the “authorized treating physician.” The authorized treating physician can arrange for referrals to specialists if the injury requires, and any necessary treatment recommended by a specialist is required to be paid for by the employer/insurer.
An injured worker is allowed a one-time switch from the original physician chosen from the panel of physicians, to another physician listed on the panel, for any reason. Any further changes in treating physician have to be done via an Order from the State Board.
The most important times during a workers’ compensation claim are the first days, or weeks, following a work accident. As such, it is imperative that you speak with an experienced Georgia workers’ compensation lawyer as soon as possible following any work injury. Workers Compensation Lawyers in Carrollton, GA (swslawfirm.com)
The experienced attorneys at SWS Accident & Injury Lawyers can make sure you receive the maximum compensation possible following a work injury in Georgia. Give us a call today at 770-214-2500 for a free consultation today.