It can be extremely stressful to suffer an injury on the job. How are you going to pay your bills? Will you lose your job if you are unable to work? Will you get fired if you file for workers’ compensation? What if your workers’ compensation claim gets denied?
These are all common questions. We hear them from injured workers throughout Georgia almost every single day. Right now, the most important thing you need to know is this: If you are an employee who was injured on the job, there is a good chance that you are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits, and the attorneys at Van Sant Law can help make sure you receive the benefits that you deserve.
7 Steps to Take After a Workplace Accident in Georgia
With this in mind, there are some important steps you need to try to take right away in order to protect your claim for benefits. Under Georgia law, there are strict requirements for filing for workers’ compensation, and your employer’s insurance company isn’t going to make it easy for you to collect full benefits for your injury.
To protect your workers’ compensation claim, you should:
- Report the Incident to Your Employer. In order to seek workers’ compensation benefits in Georgia, you must report the incident to your employer no more than 30 days after it occurs. Make sure you get a copy of the incident report for your records.
- Seek Prompt Medical Attention. It is important that you see a doctor as soon as possible. If you need emergency medical treatment, you are not restricted in your choice of doctor (i.e., you can go straight to the emergency room). However, if you need non-emergency care, you may need to see a doctor who has been pre-approved by your employer. Note that you can (and should) seek an independent second opinion, as well.
- Follow Your Doctor’s Advice. Once you see a doctor, you need to follow your doctor’s advice. If you try to return to work too soon or engage in other activities while you should be resting, this could harm your chances of securing maximum benefits for your injury.
- Follow Up with Your Employer. Once you file the incident report, it is up to your employer to notify its insurance company and the state workers’ compensation board about your claim. Some employers are slow to do this, and you want to make sure that your claim is being handled appropriately. Learn more about the Georgia workers’ compensation claims process.
- Make Sure You Know the Extent of Your Injuries and Losses. Whether you decide to accept ongoing benefit payments or a lump-sum settlement, it is crucial that you know the full extent of your injuries and losses. If you do not know how your injuries will impact your life and your ability to work in the future, you could end up settling for far less than you deserve.
- Make Sure You Know Your Rights. As someone who has been injured on the job, you need to make sure that you know your rights. Our attorneys have those rights in: The Nine Lawful Rights of Injured Georgia Workers.
- Be Prepared to Deal with the Insurance Company’s Tactics. When you file for workers’ compensation, in most cases, you will be dealing with your employer’s insurance company. Insurance companies do not like to pay claims, and they will use a number of different tactics in order to try to pay as little as possible. To protect your rights, you need to be prepared, and one of the best things you can do is hire an experienced workers’ compensation attorney to deal with the insurance company on your behalf.
Tips for Choosing a Georgia Workers’ Compensation Lawyer
When hiring a lawyer to handle your workers’ compensation claim, it is important that you make an informed decision. There are many, many lawyers out there, and not all of them are equipped to successfully deal with the insurance companies and secure maximum benefits for workers’ job-related injuries. When choosing a workers’ compensation lawyer, you want someone who:
- Has years of experience representing Georgia employees in workers’ compensation claims;
- Is recognized for his accomplishments in providing successful legal representation;
- Will provide straight-forward answers about protecting your legal rights;
- Will take aggressive action if your claim is wrongfully denied; and,
- Can also help you pursue a claim for full personal injury compensation (more on this below).
Types of Workers’ Compensation Injuries
If your employer is subject to workers’ compensation (and most Georgia employers are), almost any injury you suffer on the job can support a claim for benefits. Contrary to popular belief, you do not need to be performing your job duties at the time of the accident in order to be eligible for workers’ compensation. The following is just a small sampling of the types of injuries that can qualify for workers’ compensation benefits in Georgia:
- Lifting Injuries – Whether you work in a warehouse or in an office cubicle, if you suffer a back injury while lifting something at work, you may be able to claim workers’ compensation benefits.
- Fall-Related Injuries – Employees who fall from roofs, who slip and fall on recently waxed floors, and who trip and fall down the stairs at work can all be eligible to file for workers’ compensation.
- Equipment and Machinery Injuries – Injuries caused by flying debris, falling materials, and getting caught in or under a piece of heavy equipment or machinery are all common examples of workers’ compensation injuries.
- Injuries from Vehicle Accidents – If your job requires you to be on the road, you may be able to claim workers’ compensation benefits for injuries sustained in a vehicle accident.
- Construction Site Injuries – Construction sites are some of the most dangerous workplaces in America. Falls, falling objects, dangerous tools, lack of safety equipment, unsafe scaffolding, and wiring miscues are all common causes of serious construction site injuries.
- Inhalation and Exposure Injuries – If you are exposed to toxic dust or dangerous chemicals at work (such as on a construction site or in a factory), you can typically seek workers’ compensation benefits for your injuries resulting from inhalation or chemical exposure.
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome – An injury does not have to occur in a single traumatic event in order to qualify for coverage under workers’ compensation. Carpal tunnel syndrome is one example of what is known as a “repetitive stress injury” – and these types of injuries are also eligible for workers’ compensation.
Again, these are just examples. If you have suffered any type of injury on the job in Georgia, we encourage you to contact us promptly for a free, no-obligation consultation.
Do You Also Have a Personal Injury Claim?
When you file for workers’ compensation, it is important to understand that Georgia law does not provide for full compensation for employees’ job-related injuries. Instead, workers’ compensation benefits typically cover two-thirds of your average weekly salary plus your medical, rehabilitation, and travel expenses arising out of your injury. If your injury causes a long-term or permanent disability, you may be able to claim disability benefits as well – but, again, these do not provide full compensation for all of your injury-related losses.
Learn more in our Georgia Workers’ Compensation Benefits Guide.
In order to recover full compensation, you will need to file a personal injury claim. You should file this claim in addition to filing your claim for workers’ compensation. In conjunction with the losses covered by workers’ compensation, a personal injury claim can provide full coverage for your lost income plus compensation for your pain and suffering, emotional distress, and other financial and non-financial losses.
Your personal injury claim can be based upon the same injuries covered by your claim for workers’ compensation; however, as a general rule, you cannot file a personal injury claim against your employer. This is true even if your employer is to blame for your injuries. Instead, you must be able to demonstrate that a “third party” is responsible for your losses. This could include:
- A negligent driver
- A negligent contractor or subcontractor
- A negligent property owner
- A manufacturer or seller of a defective product
- A local, state, or federal government agency
Some law firms only handle workers’ compensation claims, and will refer you to an outside attorney if it appears that you may also have a claim for personal injuries. At Van Sant Law, we provide full-service representation for injured workers in Georgia. We will deal with your employer’s insurance company for you, and we will conduct a thorough investigation so that we can aggressively pursue the full compensation that you deserve.
Get Started with a Free Georgia Workers’ Compensation Consultation
For more information about what to do if you have been injured on the job, contact Van Sant Law today for your free, confidential consultation. We’re here to help, and we have the knowledge, experience, and resources necessary to help you secure maximum financial compensation. To speak with an attorney about your claim, please contact us online or call (404) 991-5950 today.