Marietta Workers Compensation Lawyers
Workers’ Compensation is a type of insurance that businesses with more than three employees must carry. Workers’ Comp protects you as a worker in the event of a job-related accident or illness by paying benefits to provide medical care, a percentage of your regular income while you are unable to work, and rehabilitation or retraining to get you back into the workforce. It also provides death benefits to dependent families of workers who have died in an on-the-job accident or as the result of a job-related illness. Our Marietta Workers Compensation Lawyers have years of experience handling these types of cases. Contact us today for a free initial consultation.
The Pros and Cons of Workers’ Compensation
Workers’ Compensation has the advantage of allowing you to receive benefits without going through a prolonged legal process to prove that someone else was at fault. Fault is irrelevant to a Workers’ Compensation claim. You need only to show that you were injured on the job or became ill because of some condition on the job. This allows you to get the medical care you need when you need it, and gives you an income so you can keep up with your living expenses and keep your family fed.
While this all may sound like a good thing, there is a trade-off. When you are covered by Workers’ Comp, with a very few exceptions, you are not allowed to sue your employer for negligence, even if the accident or illness was entirely the company’s fault.
Why does this matter? Because in a legal action for negligence, you and may be able to recover money for both your economic damages—medical and rehabilitation costs, lost earnings, and other expenses you incurred as a direct result of the accident or illness that can be proven by producing bills, receipts, pay stubs, and tax returns—and non-economic damages, which don’t come with a specific dollar value but have a definite negative effect on the quality of your life. Non-economic damages include pain, suffering, emotional anguish, loss of consortium, disability, disfigurement, loss of ability to enjoy your life, and so forth.
So by giving up the right to sue your employer, in many cases you are also giving up the right to recover the very significant non-economic damages. That said, having a good personal injury lawyer helping you with your Workers’ Comp claim not only helps to ensure that you get everything you’re entitled to under Georgia’s Workers’ Compensation law, but also may help to uncover opportunities to recover compensation for your non-economic damages by identifying third parties who may have contributed to your injury and who can be sued.
Length of Time to Have Your Workers’ Compensation Claim Approved
By law, the insurance company that covers your employer has 21 days from the time you file your claim to investigate it, but it is not unusual for them to miss the deadline. If so, you will want to get your workers compensation lawyer working on it immediately to avoid extensive delays. It is a good idea to bring a Workers’ Compensation attorney on board from the very beginning to assist you with paperwork and make sure that your claim is approved and that you begin to receive benefits in a timely manner. In Cobb County and Paulding County, a good choice is the highly rated law firm of Clay | Starrett Injury Lawyers, LLC, located in Marietta.
Workers’ Compensation Benefits You May Receive
Wage Benefits: Under Workers’ Comp, you are entitled to receive wage benefits equaling two-thirds of your regular weekly earnings if you must be out of work for more than seven days. The amount is typically determined by averaging your wages for the 13 week period prior to your accident. The most you can receive is $550.00 per week, and you will never receive a cost of living increase once the amount has been set.
In order to begin receiving the wage benefit, an authorized physician will need to make a determination that you are unable to work, or that you can only work on a limited or “light duty” basis and your employer does not provide appropriate alternative or part time work for you. If your employer allows you to return on a “light duty” basis at less pay, you may be entitled to receive two-thirds of the difference, up to a weekly maximum of $367.00.
Medical Benefits: When your claim has been approved, your Workers’ Comp medical benefit will fully cover the cost of medical treatment related to your injury or illness for up to 400 weeks if required, along with your transportation cost, reimbursed at $.40 per mile plus any parking expenses, for medical appointments, including therapy, lab work, and imaging appointments. It will cover your prescriptions, and medical devices. You will not have any deductible and the medical provider will bill the insurance company, not you. You must choose your doctor from a panel of authorized physicians posted by your employer.
Permanent Partial Disability Benefits: When your doctor feels that you have reached the maximum level of improvement possible given the current state of medicine and gives you the go-ahead to return to work, expecting no further improvement, he or she may give you a Permanent Partial Disability rating (PPD).
Settling a Georgia Workers’ Compensation Case
The insurance adjuster may, at this point, offer you a settlement. However, you should not accept the first offer made. Refer the adjuster to your attorney. Insurance companies exist to make profits, and the more they pay out, the lower their profits. So to understand that the settlement offered will invariably be much less than is fair. You potentially have much to lose, so don’t make the mistake of trying to settle without having a very experienced Marietta Workers Compensation attorney like Jack Clay or his associate Wesley Starrett advocating for you. It can make an enormous difference in the outcome and thus the quality of your future.
Catastrophic Injuries and Workers’ Comp
If your injuries are so severe that it is clear you will never be able to work again, you may qualify for lifetime benefits. This will need to be determined by the state Workers’ Compensation Board. Georgia has a very specific statutory definition of a catastrophic injury to include:
- The loss of both eyes
- The loss of one arm and one leg
- The loss of two arms
- The loss of two legs
- Second degree burns covering more than 25 percent of your body
- Third degree burns covering more than five percent of your hands and face
- A serious neurologic injury, for example a severe traumatic brain injury (TBI)
- A spinal cord injury with severe paralysis
- Qualifying for Social Security Disability could also qualify you for lifetime benefits.
At any point during your period of disability, your insurer may deny your entire claim or some aspect of it, for example a particular type of treatment that your doctor feels is important but the insurer considers “non-standard.” Or if your doctor orders you back to work, whether light or regular duty, and after attempting to return to your job you find that you can’t handle it after trying for a day, and the insurer refuses to resume paying you benefits, a common scenario.
Your workers compensation lawyer may then request an administrative hearing to present arguments in your behalf before an administrative judge. Remember, insurance companies are profit-oriented businesses, and they will not pay out a penny more than they can get away with. Having a lawyer representing you is important when insurers balk at paying what is owed or engage in stall tactics. They are less likely to deny your claim if they know you have legal representation, but if they do, your attorney will carefully prepare the persuasive legal arguments that will be most likely to sway the judge in your favor.
Time is of the Essence when Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim
In order to preserve your right to benefits, you must notify your employer of your injury or work-related illness within thirty days, and you are required to file your claim with the Georgia Board of Workers’ Compensation within a year of the accident date if you have not yet received check for your weekly wage benefit. If you have been under continuous medical care for your injury or illness, you need to file your claim within a year of the date of last medical treatment for the injury.
Sometimes there is not a particular incident that suddenly caused disability, but a condition that has been steadily worsening over time until it prevents you from working, such as repetitive stress injuries or exposure to toxic substances. As soon as you realize you have a condition that is interfering with your ability to work and requires medical care, you should initiate a claim without unnecessary delay.
Experienced Marietta Workers Compensation Attorneys
Workers’ Compensation cases can become extremely complex, and they can lead to extremes of frustration if you are trying to take on an insurance company and a government agency on your own. You need this time to work on recovering your health, without suffering additional stress and anxiety while trying to get what is rightfully yours. When you hire the Marietta, Georgia, attorneys Jack Clay and his associate Wesley Starrett to represent you in your claim, you can relax, knowing that you are in competent hands and you will get everything that the law requires. And when it comes to a final settlement or catastrophic injury determination, we know the law and we know what it takes to produce the best possible outcome for you.
Furthermore, you may have additional legal options in the form of possible third party claims against defendants other than your employer. At Clay | Starrett Injury Lawyers, LLC, we will look very carefully into the circumstances surrounding your accident to determine if, in addition to your Workers’ Compensation claim, you are entitled to make additional claims against other parties who contributed to your accident in order to allow you to recover adequate compensation for all of the losses you have suffered, including pain suffering, and other damages to your quality of life.
If you have been injured or made ill, or if a close family member was killed on the job and you feel that you are qualified to file a Workers’ Compensation claim, call Clay | Starrett Injury Lawyers, LLC first to make sure you get what you deserve with the least amount of stress and the least amount of delay, and to ensure that all legal options that could improve your total recovery are considered. Your initial consultation is free.