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Extraordinary firm! Attorney Greg Pope showed outstanding confidence from our first meeting and did an excellent job representing me and making sure all my needs were met. The staff are great also.
JasonWorkers’ Compensation ClientMarch, 2014

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Frequently Asked Questions of a Workers’ Comp Lawyer

Q. Is my employer required to have workers’ compensation insurance coverage?

A. In Georgia, all employers that have three or more employees working regularly in their businesses must have workers’ comp insurance coverage. If you are unsure, speak with a workers comp attorney to ensure that your rights are protected.

Q. How long must I work for my employer before I am covered by workers’ compensation insurance?

A. Workers’ comp coverage begins on the first day of employment.

Q. How long do I have to notify my employer that I got hurt on the job?

A. Georgia workman’s comp law allows up to 30 days for an injured worker to give notice of injury to his or her employer. However, the best practice is to notify your supervisor or someone else in management as soon as possible if get hurt at work.

Q. If I get hurt at work, how do I find a company doctor to treat me for my injuries?

A. The employer must have a list of doctors known as a Panel of Physicians posted in a place where it is easy for all employees to find. The employer must have taken reasonable steps to notify its employees where the Panel of Physicians is posted and how to use it. An injured worker may call any doctor on the list and make an appointment for treatment. It is important to note that you get to choose the doctor from the valid panel. Neither the employer nor the work comp insurance adjuster gets to pick for you. If you want to change doctors, you have one and only one opportunity to change to any other doctor on the panel that you choose. After that, any further change of doctor would require either the workers’ comp insurance company’s agreement or an Order from a judge at the State Board of Workers’ Compensation. However, there is one very important exception. If there is no posted Panel of Physicians or if the Panel of Physicians does not meet the legal requirements of Georgia workman compensation law, the injured worker gets to pick a doctor of his or her choice and does not have to use a company doctor. If you have any questions about this, please call a qualified Atlanta workers compensation attorney today.

Q. Do I have to pay for any part of my medical care under Georgia workers’ compensation?

A. No, under Georgia workers’ compensation law, the employer and its workers’ compensation insurance company must pay 100% of the cost of authorized medical care at the rate prescribed by the Workers’ Compensation Schedule of Fees. There are no co-payments or deductibles. It is improper for a medical provider to bill the injured worker for any portion of authorized medical care related to the injury.

Q. How long am I allowed to treat with a workman’s comp doctor?

A. For all non-catastrophic injuries that occurred on or before June 30, 2013, you may potentially be entitled to treat for your injuries for life as long as the need for treatment is still related to your injury and treatment is rendered by an authorized medical provider. For all non-catastrophic injuries occurring on or after July 1, 2013, you are only entitled to treat for your injuries for a period of up to 400 weeks from the date of injury, provided the need for treatment is still related to your injury.

Q. If I cannot work due to my injury, when do my income benefits start?

A. If you get hurt at work, you should go to a doctor as soon as possible to seek treatment for your injuries. If the doctor gives you light duty work restrictions or takes you out of work completely, you must miss all or a portion of 7 days from work before you are entitled to income benefits under Georgia workers’ compensation law. It is important to note that the 7 days do not have to be consecutive missed days in a row. However, if you miss 21 consecutive days in a row from work due to your disability, the employer must go back and pay income benefits for the 7-day waiting period.

Q. If I am entitled to income benefits, how are those benefits calculated?

A. Georgia workers’ compensation income benefits are calculated based upon a concept known as average weekly wage. There are three potential ways to calculate average weekly wage. If you worked for your employer for the 13 weeks immediately before the week in which you were injured, average weekly wage is simply the average of your pay over those 13 weeks. If you did not work for the full 13-week period before the injury, the employer calculates average weekly wage from the wages of a co-worker who did work during all of those 13 weeks and who also had a similar rate of pay and worked similar hours to you. If there is no similarly situated employee, the employer uses the wage-hour method to calculate average weekly wage, which means they just multiply your hourly rate of pay by the number of hours you were hired to work. A more definite number can be calculated by contacting an Atlanta workers compensation lawyer.

Q. If I am unable to work at all or if my employer will not let me work while on light duty restrictions, what benefits will I receive?

A. If an authorized doctor has issued total work restrictions or if he or she has issued light duty restrictions that your employer cannot or will not accommodate, you are entitled to temporary total disability (TTD) benefits. TTD benefits amount to two-thirds of your average weekly wage subject to a cap. The cap is different depending upon your date of accident. In all non-catastrophic cases, TTD benefits are payable for a period of up to 400 weeks from the date of injury. In most instances, you may not work or earn money from any job at all while you are receiving TTD benefits.

Q. If I am able to return to work while on light duty restrictions from my authorized company doctor, either for the employer where I got hurt or for another employer, but I am making less money due to my work restrictions, am I entitled to benefits?

A. Yes, if you return to work while on light duty restrictions from an authorized doctor, but you are making less money than you were making before you got hurt, and the reason that you are making less money is due to your continued disability, you are entitled to temporary partial disability (TPD) benefits. TPD benefits amount to two-thirds of the difference between your average weekly wage and the amount of money you are earning now. TPD benefits are subject to a cap which is based upon your date of accident. TPD benefits are payable for a period of up to 350 weeks from the date of injury. However, you may not receive TTD benefits at the same time you get TPD benefits. If you are entitled to income benefits due to the inability to work, you are either entitled to TTD benefits or TPD benefits, but not both at the same time.

Q. What is permanent partial impairment, and do I get benefits if I am given a permanent partial impairment rating?

A. If you sustained a serious work-related injury, your body is often never quite the same as it was before the injury, even if you got the best possible medical care. In many cases, especially cases where the injury has required surgery, the authorized treating doctor will issue a permanent partial impairment rating to the part of the body that you hurt. Your doctor will base the impairment rating on requirements set forth by the American Medical Association. The impairment rating is designed to approximate the percentage of loss you have suffered to the part of the body that you have injured. Your doctor will usually issue the impairment rating toward the end of your treatment when you reach maximum medical improvement. We apply the doctor’s impairment rating to a chart found in the Georgia Workers’ Compensation Act to determine the number of weeks that you will be entitled to permanent partial disability (PPD) benefits. PPD benefits are paid at the same rate as TTD benefits and are subject to the same capped amount as TTD benefits. However, you may not receive PPD benefits while you are still receiving either TTD or TPD benefits. PPD benefits are only payable after TTD or TPD benefits are suspended, but you may receive PPD benefits at the same time you are working for the company where you got hurt or even for another company.