6 Steps to Take If Injured on the Job In Georgia
The most recent data for those injured on the job in Georgia comes from 2019. In 2019, there were 78,100 nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses reported in Georgia.
This is just one state’s portion of the 2.8 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses reported in 2019 from across the United States.
And those injuries are costly.
According to the National Council on Compensation Insurance’s (NCCI) Workers’ Compensation Statistical Plan, “The average cost for all claims combined in 2018-2019 was $42,008. […] The most costly lost-time workers’ compensation claims by cause of injury result from motor-vehicle crashes, averaging $81,971 per workers’ compensation claim filed in 2018 and 2019. The only other causes with above-average costs were burns ($58,284), falls or slips ($47,681), and caught ($45,255).”
Medical bills add up, and you may find yourself unable to work due to your injuries.
That’s where filing a workers’ compensation claim comes in. Workers’ compensation is essentially a request for benefits – not a lawsuit, as some mistakenly believe.
If you’ve been injured on the job in Georgia, take the following steps to ensure you receive the workers’ compensation benefits you need and are entitled to under Georgia workers’ compensation law.
1. Tell Your Employer You’ve Been Injured
The first thing you need to do if you’ve been injured on the job in Georgia is to report your injury.
This is critical because under Georgia workers’ compensation law, you have a limited amount of time to report the injury.
If you wait more than 30 days to report the injury, you may not receive workers’ compensation benefits.
Avoid this happening by reporting your injury as soon as it happens or as soon as you notice the effects.
Reporting the injury simply means telling your boss.
However, you have to be crystal clear that you were injured on the job.
For example, “I need to go to the doctor” isn’t crystal clear, but “I was injured on the job, and I need to go to the hospital now” is much more clear.
If you experience the effects of an injury later, such as strain on your back, you still need to report it similarly.
For example, “I believe I pulled a muscle in my back this week at work when I was working in the stockroom. I am going to make a doctor’s appointment.”
In addition, put this in writing. A simple email or text message starts a paper trail and shows you reported the injury.
NOTE – If you have a serious injury that requires immediate emergency medical attention, you do not have to wait to report your injury to your employer. You are entitled to emergency medical treatment immediately.
2. Seek Medical Help
The next step is to actually seek medical help – even if you think your injury is minor and doesn’t require it.
This is because often people are injured at work and then wait to report it or get help for it until the symptoms are very noticeable.
But at that point, it may be too late to report an injury under Georgia workers’ compensation law.
For instance, you may fall, but you don’t feel bad immediately after. However, some days later, it is clear you actually are more injured than you originally thought.
Think of it this way – Even if you don’t think you need medical care now, you do need it to receive workers’ compensation benefits.
Plus, the sooner you receive a diagnosis, the sooner you can start the healing process.
So now that you know it is necessary to seek medical help for workers’ compensation benefits, you need to know how to seek this care.
After you’ve been injured on the job in Georgia, you can choose the doctor you’d like to see from your employer’s posted panel of physicians.
The key here is, you get to choose.
Don’t let your employer suggest a doctor. In many cases, employers suggest doctors who are more likely to send employees back to work before they are healed and ready.
3. Say the Right Thing
It’s important to be honest when speaking with your doctor about your injury.
Don’t downplay your injury, such as saying, “Oh, it doesn’t hurt that bad,” because it can come back to haunt you.
You also want to be upfront about pre-existing conditions rather than letting the insurance company find out on their own.
With that being said, you want to be careful about whom you share this information with.
Workers’ compensation insurance is a business, and the people who work in this business are in it for themselves. Not for you.
For example, insurance adjusters and nurse case managers work with insurance companies.
They will use what you say against you in any way that they can, so avoid speaking to them and do not allow them to be in the examination room with you.
If you speak to these people, statements such as “It’s not too bad” will be used to deny your workers’ compensation claims.
[Related Read: The Magic Words to Use When Reporting a Work Injury]
4. File a Notice of Claim
Filing a notice of claim is different from reporting an injury.
As a reminder, you have 30 days to report an injury according to Georgia workers’ compensation law.
But you have one year from the date of your injury to file a claim.
You will need to file a Notice of Claim (Form WC-14) with the Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation.
5. Hire an Attorney
At this point in the process, you need to hire an experienced workers’ comp attorney if you haven’t already.
It starts to get complicated when you have to fill out forms and file by strict deadlines.
A workers’ compensation attorney can handle all of this for you – especially an attorney who has experience with Georgia workers’ compensation law since every state operates a little differently.
In addition to helping you fill out complicated forms and meet deadlines, a workers’ comp attorney will also help you deal with the insurance company.
They can provide counsel about what to say and what not to say, which doctors to visit and which ones to avoid, and help you understand what benefits you will or will not receive.
Moreover, if your initial workers’ comp claim is denied, your attorney will fight for you to receive the benefits you deserve.
6. Follow the Doctor’s Orders
From the time you seek medical help until you receive all your workers’ compensation benefits, you need to follow your doctor’s orders.
If the insurance company “catches” you not following a doctor’s orders, such as lifting heavy objects when you are under lifting restrictions, you can have your workers’ compensation claim denied or lose your benefits.
Unfortunately, you will be under surveillance when you are fighting for workers’ compensation.
This, again, is another reason it is critical to hire a respected workers’ compensation attorney in Georgia.
Watch How to Deal with Private Investigators.
If you’ve been injured on the job, contact us today for a free, no-strings-attached consultation.
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