What Georgia Workers’ Comp Benefits Am I Entitled To?
Work-related accidents happen every day and can be extremely costly, so it is a good thing Georgia workers’ comp benefits are in place.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Of the 78,100 private industry injury and illness cases reported in Georgia, 41,600 were of a more severe nature, involving days away from work, job transfer, or restriction – commonly referred to as DART cases.”
If you have suffered an injury that forces you to miss days of work, you are probably wondering how you’ll pay your bills – especially the medical bills.
“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),” according to the National Council on Compensation Insurance’s (NCCI) Workers’ Compensation Statistical Plan.
If you have been injured on the job, you likely want (and need) to know what Georgia workers’ comp benefits you are entitled to.
Fortunately, there is an entire state board devoted to workers’ compensation in Georgia. Guidelines are used to determine how much Georgia workers’ comp benefits injured employees are entitled to.
Use this information to help you get a feel for what workers’ compensation benefits you are entitled to if you have been injured on the job in Georgia.
The Basics of Georgia Workers’ Comp
Any business with three or more employees, including regular part-time employees, is required to have workers’ compensation insurance according to Georgia law.
Georgia requires employers to have workers’ compensation insurance so that workers may be compensated for medical treatment, rehabilitation, income benefits, and permanent disability should they be injured at work during working hours.
Additionally, workers’ compensation may provide benefits to dependents of those who succumb to work-related injuries and pass away.
To make sure your employer has workers’ compensation coverage, visit www.sbwc.georgia.gov.
Georgia Workers’ Comp Benefits
In addition to compensation for medical treatment, injured workers may also be entitled to compensation for lost income.
However, strict guidelines determine the income benefits you may receive from workers’ comp in Georgia.
According to the Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation Notice of Payment or Suspension of Benefits:
In addition to paying your medical expenses for an injury at work, the employer will pay you for part of your lost wages if you are disabled from work for more than seven (7) calendar days because of your work-related injury.
O.C.G.A. §34-9-261: IF YOU ARE NOT ABLE TO WORK AT ALL because of your injury, your employer/insurer must pay:
- 2/3 of your average weekly wage with a maximum of $675 per week if your date of accident was on or after July 1, 2019. A minimum of $50.00 per week, or your actual weekly wage if less than $50.00 per week.
- If your accident occurred on or after July 1, 1992, and if your injury is not catastrophic, you are not entitled to this type of benefit for more than 400 weeks. Furthermore, your benefits may be reduced to those allowed by O.C.G.A. §34-9-262 under certain circumstances after you have been released to return to work with limitations or restrictions.
O.C.G.A. §34-9-262: IF YOU MUST WORK FOR LOWER WAGES because of your injury at work, your employer/insurer will pay:
- 2/3 of your wage loss (the difference between what you make after your injury and what you made before), with a maximum of $450 per week if your date of accident was on or after July 1, 2019 for a maximum of 350 weeks from the date of accident.
O.C.G.A. §34-9-263: IF YOU LOST A PART OR MEMBER OF YOUR BODY or lose the use of a member (such as arm, finger, eye, etc.), you will first receive benefits described above during disability, and then upon return to work or otherwise becoming ineligible for TTD or TPD benefits, you will receive payment for permanent partial disability for a certain number of weeks, based on the percentage of your loss.
Multiply the permanent partial disability (%) by the maximum number of weeks listed below to determine the number of weeks you will receive PPD benefits. For example, for a 15% permanent partial disability to an arm, multiply 15% times 225 weeks. The answer of 33.75 represents the number of weeks you will receive income benefits.
This is where the problems arise.
Lawmakers in Georgia have given each body part a value in terms of the number of weeks covered for benefits. For example, a hand is worth 160 weeks of income benefits.
When the doctor says you’ve reached maximum medical improvement, they will assign an impairment rating (or disability percentage) for the treated body part.
So, if your doctor assigns you a 12% rating for your hand (worth a maximum of 160 weeks of income benefits), this will result in the insurance company owing you 12% of 160 weeks, or 19 weeks of income benefits. (.12 x 160 = 19.2)
As you can imagine, this impairment rating will vary significantly from one injured worker to another depending on many factors, such as the treating physician.
If the doctor doesn’t give you a fair impairment rating, it will affect your workers’ compensation benefits.
Who Is Entitled to Georgia Workers’ Comp Benefits?
Any employee injured on the job – beginning the first day of employment – is entitled to Georgia Workers’ Comp Benefits.
This includes undocumented employees.
Many years ago, it was decided that if an undocumented person is hired, they should have the same protections as documented workers.
However, there may be instances where there could be a difference in entitlement to benefits. Nevertheless, an employer shouldn’t use an employee’s documentation status to intimidate them into not filing a work injury claim.
Other Things You May Be Entitled To
Georgia workers’ comp benefits do not just cover lost income and medical treatment.
They also cover all medical care and treatment expenses that are necessary due to a work injury.
These additional medical benefits also cover things, such as:
- Assistive devices (walkers or wheelchairs)
- Prescription drugs
- Mileage to and from doctors’ appointments
- Meals and lodging for out-of-town medical appointments
In order to be reimbursed for medical-related devices and travel, make sure you keep all your receipts.
What You Are NOT Entitled To
You are not entitled to a payment due to pain and suffering. Unfortunately, many people get personal injury lawsuits confused with workers’ compensation claims.
A personal injury claim is totally different from a workers’ compensation claim. Workers’ compensation is not a lawsuit; it is a request for benefits.
Georgia Work-Related Death Benefits
In addition to the three different disability benefits, Georgia workers’ comp benefits also include death benefits for beneficiaries.
According to the Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation Employee Handbook, “This benefit is payable to eligible dependents (i.e., dependent spouse, minor children) of an employee whose on-the-job injuries result in death.
This benefit is payable at the rate of two-thirds of the deceased employee’s average weekly wage at the time of the accident not to exceed the maximum allowed under the law for all eligible dependents.”
In addition, Georgia workers’ comp benefits also cover funeral expenses. In Georgia, funeral benefits cover an employee’s burial up to $7,500.
Protect What You Are Entitled to with a Workers’ Comp Attorney
The strict guidelines put in place by the State Board of Workers’ Compensation should make it easy to determine how much you are entitled to if you are injured on the job.
The problem is that no two injuries are alike. The differences between one work injury and another are where things get complicated and why working with an experienced workers’ comp attorney is crucial.
An experienced workers’ comp lawyer will have a complete understanding of Georgia workers’ compensation laws, insurance companies, and the doctors typically treating work-related injuries.
Using this knowledge, a workers’ compensation attorney will fight for you to receive a fair impairment rating, ensuring you get the benefits you are entitled to and deserve.
If you’ve been injured on the job, contact us today for a free, no-strings-attached consultation.
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