Getting hurt on the job can be a stressful period in your life. You have medical bills and missed time at work, and sometimes you’re even dealing with pressure from your job and their insurance so they can avoid compensating you for your troubles. While there are many similarities, each state has its own laws that govern workers’ compensation.
Georgia’s workers’ compensation laws have their own specifics, and the Morgan & Morgan attorneys in Atlanta are well-versed in the ins and outs of the law. Whether you have been recently injured on the job, are dealing with a complicated claim, or have been denied your claim for various reasons, we can help you navigate these tricky waters.
To find out how we can help with your claim, please fill out a free case review form today.
Why Hire An Attorney For Your Workers’ Compensation Claim?
Even though workers’ compensation is meant to benefit everyone from you to your employer to their insurance carrier, oftentimes the insurance carrier will look to deny your claim. When they’re reluctant to offer an injured employee the compensation he or she deserves, we can be there to help ensure a legitimate workers’ compensation claim.
Insurance companies may be wary of workers’ comp fraud, which occurs when employees make fake or exaggerated claims to yield a significant payout, or may refuse to pay because it isn’t in their financial interest. Likewise, employers might deny claim because they don’t want their premiums to rise or try to cover up the injury and deny it ever occurred.
You will have a better chance of receiving the benefits you’re entitled to with an attorney at your side than on your own. An Atlanta workers’ compensation attorney can help you gather evidence to bolster your case, such as medical records, safety reports, and even eyewitness testimonies if possible. Even if with all of this your claim is denied, an attorney may be able to file an appeal with the Georgia workers’ comp board demanding those benefits be paid.
An attorney can also help you determine whether you can seek additional damages for your injury. Workers’ compensation in Georgia covers lost wages, medical treatment, and permanent partial disability funds, but if someone other than your employer has some responsibility in your accident your lawyer can figure out whether a third-party lawsuit is possible. A third-party lawsuit could be against the manufacturer of a defective piece of equipment that helped cause an injury.
Filing a Claim With a Lawyer’s Help
In Georgia, any employer with three or more employees is required to offer workers’ compensation insurance. Injured workers have thirty days to file what is known as a “notice of injury” with their employer. It is important to report your injury as soon as possible and not delay the process. The notice should be filed as soon as is practical following the injury. This step needs to be completed before your actual workers’ compensation claim can begin.
Following the notice of injury, a workers’ compensation attorney can then help you file a WC-14 form with the Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation. At this point, there are several issues that need to be addressed before your case can move forward:
- Determining where on the work site the injury took place
- Confirming the victim’s employment with the defending employer
- Proving the injury was due to the course of work
- Making sure the Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation has jurisdiction
- Accessing records of the victim’s wages
Once you have reported your injury you must also see a doctor that is provided by your employer’s insurance. One way your employer can do this is to post a panel of at least six physicians that you may choose from. A lawyer can help you pick the right one, and if your claim is denied can help you find a doctor that can offer you a second opinion for your appeal.
Options if You Were Denied a Claim
There’s no guarantee your claim goes through. Perhaps the insurance company decides that there isn’t enough evidence that the injury was caused by an accident in the office, or that it was the result of a preexisting condition. Our Atlanta workers’ compensation attorneys have seen employers use a wide range of tactics to try to undermine the workers’ compensation claims of our clients. Some examples include:
- Claiming a victim’s fall was caused by their own negligence
- Unjustly giving the employee a negative performance review
- Falsely claiming that an employee’s injury has already healed
- Firing an injured employee who has been cleared for work by an employer-assigned doctor
The appeals process for someone who was denied workers’ compensation in Georgia begins with a hearing scheduled within 60 days of the judge receiving your file. This administrative law judge, after hearing both sides of the case, will either issue you an award or also deny your claim. In some cases, the appeals process can go even further and you can continue to appeal after your claim has been denied again.
Workers’ Compensation for the Independent Contractor
In general, independent contractors in Georgia are not offered workers’ compensation. As such, there are times when employers will try to take advantage of this and misclassify employees as independent contractors in an attempt to avoid paying workers’ comp.
Even if you’re classified as an independent contractor, however, there are ways you can be eligible for these benefits, like if:
- He or she is given a structured work schedule from a third party
- His or her working conditions are not personally controlled
- The means by which the victim completes his or her job is dictated by another individual, entity, or company
Morgan & Morgan’s Atlanta attorneys can work with you to determine if your employer has misclassified you as an independent contractor. If it turns out to be the case, they may be able to help you file a claim.
Contact Us About Your Claim
Time is of the essence when it comes to a workers’ compensation claim. If you need help with any part of the claims process, do not hesitate to contact us for a free, no-obligation case review. If you feel you’re entitled to benefits you aren’t getting, please complete our form today.