What Does Workers’ Comp in Georgia Cover?
If you have been injured on the job, you likely have a lot of things on your mind, such as how you will cover your expenses and what type of coverage you can expect from workers’ comp in Georgia.
We’re here to ease some of your worries.
Workers’ comp is designed to help both you and your employer. It ensures employees can secure benefits if injured on the job according to workers’ comp law.
It also protects employers from being held financially responsible for the costs associated when an employee is injured on the job.
For instance, you can’t sue your employer for a work injury. Your only option is to file a workers’ compensation claim. This is referred to as “the exclusive remedy.”
Considering the high number of work injuries each year, workers’ comp is required at any business with three or more employees, including regular part-time employees.
If you are an independent contractor, and not an employee, you would not be covered under workers’ compensation.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), “Over 78,000 nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses were reported among Georgia’s private industry employers in 2019, resulting in an incidence rate of 2.5 cases per 100 full-time equivalent workers.”
Even though 78,000 were nonfatal, “41,600 were of a more severe nature, involving days away from work, job transfer, or restriction—commonly referred to as DART cases.”
The high number of work-related injuries has resulted in entire sets of legislation and state departments devoted to it (the State Board of Workers’ Compensation).
However, workers’ comp in Georgia, or anywhere else in the U.S., is complicated.
Each State Board of Workers’ Compensation has different requirements to receive benefits, as well as different deadlines.
Moreover, as McClone explains, “Each state can differ in its definition of a covered employee, what types of injuries are covered, how long an employee has to file a claim and excluded injuries.”
If you simply google workers’ compensation coverage, you may find information for workers’ comp in California.
You should assume workers’ comp laws in California are different from workers’ comp in Georgia.
So, if you have a friend or family member who had a workers’ compensation case in another state, you cannot really compare the two cases because each state has its own laws, which could drastically differ.
If you or your loved one has been injured on the job in Georgia, you’ll need to understand the ins and outs of workers’ comp in Georgia.
The Basics of Workers’ Comp in Georgia
Georgia workers’ compensation insurance is designed so that, in the event of a workplace injury, workers can be compensated for medical treatment, rehabilitation, income benefits, and permanent disability.
Workers’ compensation may also provide benefits to dependents of work-related death victims.
However, the specific benefits coverage you may receive from workers’ comp in Georgia is determined by strict guidelines.
These guidelines from the Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation are used to determine how much you are entitled to as a result of a workplace injury or work-related death.
Temporary Total Disability (TTD)
Temporary Total Disability benefits in Georgia occur when an approved doctor says you are unable to work at all.
TTD can also occur when an approved doctor says you are only capable of performing light-duty work, but your employer does not have any light-duty work available for you.
After the waiting period is complete (one week of not working), you will be entitled to weekly checks that are equal to two-thirds of your average weekly wage for lost income.
You will receive these checks until you are cleared by your doctor to return to full-duty work or when your employer finds acceptable light-duty work for you to complete.
Temporary Partial Disability (TPD)
Temporary Partial Disability benefits in Georgia occur when your approved doctor says you are clear to go back to work, but only clears you for light-duty work.
Due to this light-duty status, if you earn less money from reduced work hours or because you were demoted, you would qualify for TPD benefits.
If you qualify for TPD, your weekly TPD checks will equal two-thirds of the difference in pay between what you were making pre-injury and what you are making now.
Permanent Partial Disability (PPD)
PPD benefits in Georgia occur when you’ve reached the end of your claim or the point when your approved doctor declares you’ve reached maximum medical improvement (MMI).
Basically, this is when your doctor says, “I can’t do anything else for you. This is as good as you’re going to get.”
Here’s where it gets complicated.
Georgia lawmakers have given each body part a value in terms of the number of weeks covered for benefits. For example, an arm is worth 225 weeks of income benefits.
When the doctor says you’ve reached maximum medical improvement, they will assign a percentage of disability, or an impairment rating, for the treated body part. So, if your doctor assigns you a 12% rating for your arm (worth a maximum of 225 weeks of income benefits), this will result in the insurance company owing you 12% of 225 weeks, or 27 weeks of income benefits. (.12 x 225 = 27)
While it may seem as though the final calculation is easy to do, this number will vary greatly depending on the impairment rating you receive. For example, your doctor may assign an impairment rating that hinders you from receiving fair compensation benefits.
This is why it is critical to hire an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer in Georgia to stand in your corner and fight for you to receive a fair impairment rating you need to get the benefits you deserve.
In order to get a second opinion to receive a higher impairment rating, you will need a workers’ compensation lawyer to help you.
Finally, weekly benefits for permanent partial disability equal two-thirds of the average weekly wage. However, you cannot receive PPD benefits if you are receiving TTD or TPD benefits. Workers’ comp in Georgia does not allow you to get these benefits at the same time.
Sadly, some injuries on the job result in death. In these cases, the loved ones left behind not only have to grieve the loss, but also worry about how to pay expenses.
In the event of a work-related death, the surviving spouse and/or children of the employee who died on the job can pursue dependency benefits through a death benefits claim through workers’ comp in Georgia.
The family members of the deceased can claim these benefits, but it can be complicated to determine who qualifies as a dependent, what kind of dependent, and the order of priority when there are multiple dependents.
For workers’ comp in Georgia, there are two types of death benefits beneficiaries: primary and secondary.
- Primary beneficiaries: The victim’s legal spouse and minor children. Children are entitled to benefits until they reach the age of 18, but these benefits may be extended to the age of 22 if enrolled in school.
- Secondary beneficiaries: In the event that the victim did not have a legal spouse or dependent children, any other party that can prove they were dependent on the victim for at least three months prior to the death can receive death benefits.
Just like workers’ comp benefits, work-related death benefits are also equal to two-thirds of the victim’s average weekly wage.
However, beneficiaries may receive more or less depending on how they are categorized (wholly dependent or partially dependent).
In addition, beneficiaries only receive benefits as long as they would have remained dependent on the victim. For example, a widow who remarries will have benefits terminated.
Even if a widow never remarries, there is a cap on the amount of benefits. In other words, dependency benefits may eventually run out.
Under Georgia law, death benefits are subject to change – from maximums on the amount you can recover to termination of benefits.
Given the complicated nature of work-related deaths and workers’ comp in Georgia, it is wise to hire an experienced workers’ comp lawyer to help you receive the benefits you deserve.
Other Things Workers’ Comp in Georgia Covers
Many people don’t realize that workers’ comp in Georgia covers more than lost income benefits.
Georgia workers’ compensation should cover all expenses related to care and treatment due to a work-related injury.
Medical benefits should also cover:
- Assistive devices (walkers or wheelchairs).
- Prescription drugs.
- Mileage to and from doctors’ appointments.
- Meals and lodging for out-of-town medical appointments.
This is why you should keep up with all your receipts, so you can submit them for reimbursement.
Why Work with a Skilled Workers’ Comp Lawyer
As you can see, workers’ comp in Georgia is complicated.
If you don’t know what workers’ comp in Georgia covers, you may be taken advantage of.
That’s why it is important to hire an experienced workers’ comp lawyer who has ample knowledge of the laws, insurance companies, and doctors involved in these types of cases.
Plus, it is a proven fact that injured workers represented by experienced workers’ compensation lawyers get significantly more benefits and higher settlements than those people who don’t hire lawyers with a background in this complex field.
If you’ve been injured on the job, contact us today for a free, no-strings-attached consultation.