Frequently Asked Questions About Workers' Compensation

After a workplace injury, it is common to have questions and concerns. To help you during this difficult time, this page provides answers to some workers' compensation frequently asked questions.

Q: What is the Georgia Workers' Compensation Act?

A: The Georgia Workers' Compensation Act (GWCA) is a state-mandated program that requires employers to purchase insurance for the benefit of employees who have sustained an injury arising out of and in the course of employment.

Q: Does the GWCA apply to all employers?

A: No. An employer must have three or more employees before it is required to carry workers' compensation insurance for the benefit of its employees.

Q: Does the GWCA apply to all workers?

A: No. Railroad workers, domestic servants, and farm laborers are specifically excluded from the protections afforded under the GWCA. The same rule applies to independent contractors, unless it can be shown that the employer exercised a sufficient right of control over the independent contractor on the date of accident.

Q: I'm a Georgia resident, but I was injured while on the job in another state. Do I have any rights under the GWCA?

A: Georgia residents who are injured while on the job in another state are nevertheless subject to the GWCA, so long as the following are true:

    1. The contract of employment was made in the state of Georgia.
    2. The employer's place of business or the residence of the employee is in the state of Georgia.
    3. The contract of employment was not expressly for services exclusively outside of the state of Georgia.

Q: What are the benefits that I am potentially entitled to receive under the GWCA?

A: An employee injured on the job is potentially entitled to receive both income and medical benefits.

Income benefits consist of the following:

    1. Temporary total disability benefits (capped at $575 per week, not to exceed 400 weeks in duration)
    2. Temporary partial disability benefits (capped at $383 per week, not to exceed 350 weeks in duration)
    3. Permanent partial disability benefits
    4. Death benefits

Medical benefits consist of medical and/or rehabilitative treatment that is paid for by the employer and reasonably required to effect a cure, provide relief or restore the employee to suitable employment.

Q: How long do I have to work for my employer before I become entitled to receive benefits under the GWCA?

A: An employer's workers' compensation insurance takes effect and protects the employee beginning on day one of his or her employment.

Q: How are my income benefits calculated under the GWCA?

A: If you were injured while on the job, and your authorized treating physician has taken you completely out of work for at least seven consecutive days, your employer will issue you an income benefits check in an amount that is equal to two-thirds of your average weekly wage.

Your authorized treating physician might instead place you under light-duty restrictions. If that happens and your employer either cuts your time or cuts your pay in an attempt to accommodate those restrictions, then your employer will issue you an income benefits check in an amount equal to two-thirds the difference between your pre-injury average weekly wage and your post-injury average weekly wage.

Q: My employer sent me to see the company doctor, but I don't feel as if I'm being treated fairly. What can I do?

A: The GWCA addresses the issue of bias by giving an injured employee the right to a one-time change of his or her authorized treating physician. Additionally, the GWCA gives an injured employee the right to a one-time independent medical examination, partially funded by the employer. Whether or not an injured employee should exercise either of these rights is an important decision that should be made in consultation with a workers' compensation attorney.

Q: What is a panel of physicians?

A: A panel of physicians refers to the list or network of medical treatment providers that an employer is supposed to give to an employee who has been injured on the job. Generally speaking, the panel identifies who the injured employee is authorized to treat with in the event of an injury arising out of and in the course of employment.

Q: Does the GWCA require my employer to pay for my travel expenses?

A: An employee who has been injured while on the job is entitled to receive medical mileage reimbursement, at a rate of 40 cents per mile, from the employer. As such, an injured employee should keep a log of the miles driven to and from his or her doctors' appointments, including physical therapy.

Q: Does the GWCA protect me if I have a pre-existing condition?

A: An employer is not legally required to pay for medical treatment stemming from an injured employee's pre-existing condition. However, if the workplace accident has aggravated his or her pre-existing condition, then the employer is required to pay for the injured employee's medical treatment so long as the aggravation persists.

Contact Me For More Answers To Your Questions

Based in Tucker, The Law Office Of Arthur E. Snead, LLC, serves clients throughout metro Atlanta. To discuss your injuries with an experienced workers' compensation lawyer, call me at 404-692-6403, or send me an email.