If you were injured in an accident that arose from your employment and occurred within its scope, you have the right to collect workers’ compensation benefits. On that, the law in Georgia is straightforward. But the paperwork to get those benefits can be its own frustrating labyrinth.
The Law Office of Arthur Snead, LLC can be of valuable help in knowing how to file a Workers’ Compensation claim--from the basic forms, to knowing what information you’ll need to have at the ready, to handling a potential dispute from your employer or their insurance carrier.
Making Your Claim
The WC-14 form is the place to start. Include everything from your basic contact information to the full name and address of your employer, along with whichever insurance company wrote their workers’ comp coverage.
A part of this form will include a description of your injuries and the benefits you are claiming. You also need to let the State Board know if you are simply making a claim, or whether you are requesting a hearing and potential mediation. The latter would indicate a dispute, something that it will be beneficial to have an attorney on hand for.
To get workers’ compensation, you’ll have to be seen by a doctor that’s within your system. This is not the same as a primary care physician being in the PPO network of your company insurance plan. When you’re injured on the job, there are select doctors for different types of injuries. These doctors are all approved by the state of Georgia. Find out who they are from your employer or check the state-wide database. Of course, the treatment and care provided will be covered by your firm’s insurance company.
If your company wants to contest the claim, they will have 21 days to file their own report with the state.
What to Expect in a Dispute
Why wouldn’t you be approved? After all, if you were carrying a heavy box up the stairs at work and hurt your back, isn’t that clearly a work-related injury? Maybe. But maybe not. If you struggled with back pain before this, your employer can credibly claim that the injury did not truly arise from your employment.
Any dispute opens the door to the legal process called discovery. This is where both parties have the right to request all documentation that may be relevant to the case. Meaning that if you went to a chiropractor several times in the months leading up to the accident, that will almost certainly come out in discovery.
Discovery can also yield facts favorable to your cause. What if your job description clearly identifies your role as being at a desk and it was the employer’s repeated email requests that led you to help with the hauling? That type of documentation can work in your favor. A big part of discovery is knowing what you’re looking for. That is what lawyers are for.
What if the accident was your fault? That depends on what the fault was. If your only mistake was not to lift with your legs, then you’re fine. The state of Georgia does not expect everyone to perform a physical task to perfection in order to get workers’ compensation. But what if the incident took place at a holiday party where you had too much to drink? Now you’ve got a problem.
Collecting Your Benefits
If all goes well and your claim is approved, you want to be sure you get the maximum amount you’re entitled. Lost income is straightforward--produce your pay stubs and/or tax returns and you’ll receive two-thirds of your income for up to $675 per week.
You’re also entitled to medical costs. So, save your receipts for anything, from office co-pays to prescription medication to any outpatient or hospital bills.Getting injured at work is literally painful. Unfortunately, filing for workers’ comp can sometimes be figuratively painful. A good lawyer can lighten the load and, if necessary, advocate tenaciously for your rights in a dispute. That’s what I do at The Law Office of Arthur E. Snead, LLC. Give me a call at (404) 800-1181 or reach out to me online and we can set up a free consultation.