Fighting for Georgia’s Injured Workers
You are probably a dedicated employee who has consistently performed your job at a high-level. Suddenly, you find yourself injured and your employer does not reciprocate the loyalty that you have always shown them.
Time and time again we hear from injured workers who are stunned when their employers are not sympathetic to their work-related injuries. To make matters worse, their employers have partnered with unethical doctors who appear like they want to help – only to send the injured worker back to their job with no limitations.
You are not required to let your employer dictate your medical treatment and insist that you return to work despite being injured. You need a workers’ compensation lawyer who will stand up to your employer and their insurance company. You have worked tirelessly making your employer money month after month. You deserve to be treated fairly after a workplace injury.
Atlanta Lawyer Jason McLendon is dedicated to representing injured workers in Georgia
- Our firm is honored to be recognized as one of Georgia’s top law firms specializing in injury victims.
- We provide individualized attention to your work-place injury claim. No injury is too small or too complex.
- We will go the extra mile for you. If you are unable to come to our office, we will come to you!
- We explore every settlement source available to you
- Our goal is to make sure that you recover from your injures receive the maximum compensation for your injuries.
If you were injured at work, we can help! Call (404) 565-1618 for a free consultation with a Georgia workers’ compensation lawyer. With offices located in Atlanta and Rome, we fight for injuries workers’ across the state of Georgia. If your injury prohibits you from meeting at one of our offices, we will come to you.
What can a workers’ compensation lawyer do for you?
Being injured on the job is generally a complicated and stressful time. If your employer is refusing you benefits or time away to heal from your injuries, you should hire a workers’ compensation lawyer.
You may not have to continue to work after a workplace injury. If your employer’s doctor sent you back to work despite your debilitating pain, you have options. You need a second opinion and you need to work with an experienced injury lawyer in Georgia.
What should I do if I was hurt on the job?
If you were hurt at work, there are important steps that you should follow in order to preserve your workers’ compensation claim:
- Notify your employer: It is imperative that you timely report your injury to your employer. If you fail to notify your employer about your injury within 30 days, you may lose the ability to receive benefits.
- Request information: Request that your employer provide you with the approved “panel of physicians” which are the doctors you are allowed to see. In the event that you are not timely provided the approved panel, you will be able to see the doctor of your choice.
- Seek Medical Care: If you need emergency medical treatment, you should immediately go to the hospital. Employers are required to cover the cost of emergency room treatment related to workplace injuries. If you need non-emergency treatment, you should timely seek the necessary medical care. If you decide not to go to the doctor or wait too long, it will negatively impact your claim for benefits.
- Contact a workers’ compensation lawyer: It is imperative that you contact a Georgia workers’ compensation lawyer because employers and their insurance companies rarely treat injured workers fairly. They frequently claim that your injury was not caused by a work-place incident or that you are healthy enough to return to work. A workers’ compensation lawyer can help you navigate the uncertainty surrounding your injury.
Do I qualify for workers’ compensation benefits in Georgia?
Workers’ compensation is an accident insurance program in Georgia meant to streamline benefits to injured workers. You are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits if your employer has more than three employees and you were injured while performing a work-related task during the scope of your employment. This three-employee requirement includes part time workers.
We must be aware of the a few exceptions to this rule. Generally, if you are an independent contractor, you are not entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. However, there are several factors to determine if you are truly an independent contractor aside from your tax status.
There are also exceptions that apply if the workplace injury occurred due to an injured worker’s misconduct such as, intoxication, intentional self-infected injuries, altercations, horseplay, and criminal activity. As a general rule, farm workers and truck drivers are not eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.
If you were injured on the job, you should always contact a Georgia workers’ compensation lawyer to discuss the specific facts of our injury claim.
What types of benefits are available under workers’ compensation?
There three overall types of workers’ compensation benefits:
Medical benefits. An individual who was injured on the job is always entitled to emergency medical attention. They are also entitled to follow up care including doctor visits, surgery, rehabilitation and medications.
Usually, injured workers are unable to go to the physician of their choosing. Instead, they must select from a list of approved medical providers provided by the employer. However, if the employer fails to post the approved provider list or promptly provide this information to an injured worker at their request, the injured worker may then seek treatment at their preferred medical provider.
Income benefits. In the event that your injury forces you to miss work, you may be eligible to recover income benefits. Income benefits are discussed in greater detail below.
Death benefits. In the tragic event of a workplace injury results in death, the family of the deceased worker is able to receive death benefits that include funeral expenses and lost future wages. The amount of death benefits owed to the victim’s family will also be based upon the total number of dependents to the deceased worker.
Additionally, there are four specific types of income benefits available to injured workers in Georgia:
- Temporary Partial Disability (TPD): TPD benefits are provided to injured workers in this who able to return to work for “light duty” but, not in their original capacity. Light duty positions typically pay far less than an injured worker’s prior position. TPD benefits are intended to help the injured worker financially until they are physically able to return to their original position. The amount that an injured worker will receive is 2/3 of the difference between their original pay and their new pay on light duty.
- Temporary Total Disability (TTD): TTD benefits are designed to help injured workers who are unable to return to work for at least one week. This benefit is equal to 2/3 of the injured worker’s pay prior to their injury and is capped at $675.00 per week. These benefits will continue until: (i) the injury has reached maximum medical improvement or (ii) the expiration of 400 weeks; (iii) or return to work.
- Permanent Partial Disability (PPD): PPD is designed to compensate injured workers for permanent loss of use of a body part. For example, if an injured worker suffered a torn ACL and a doctor determined that the worker has forever lost 5% of the use of their knee, there is a statutory equation that will determine what compensation is required. Because your compensation is based largely upon your impairment rating, it is important that an injured worker be examined by the best doctor available on your employer’s approved panel.
- Permanent Total Disability (PTD): If a medical professional determines that an injured worker will not fully recover from a workplace injury, PTD benefits are also awarded pursuant to the injured worker’s impairment rating. Therefore, it is important that an to be examined by the best physician available on an employer’s approved panel.
Can I get paid if I am unable to continue working?
If you were injured at work and are unable to continue working, you are entitled to weekly benefits. These benefits are equal to 2/3 of your salary or a maximum of $675.00 per week. If your employer has not sent your weekly checks despite you being unable to work for more than seven days, a workers’ compensation lawyer can help you get these benefits stated and receive retroactive benefits not paid by your employer.
When are able to return to work, but not to extent that you were prior to your injury, you are entitled to 2/3 of the difference between your pay before the accident and the new pay rate after your injury.
Can I be fired if I am unable to return to work?
Georgia is a employment “at-will” state. This means that unless you have an employment contract guaranteeing employment for a specific period of time, you can be fired for any reason or no reason at all – except if the reason is an illegal reason. An illegal reason includes “disability.” However, an injury on the job is not generally categorized as a “disability.”
After filing a workers’ compensation claim, you employer may scrutinize your every move. Suddenly, because they don’t like the outfit you chose to wear or because you came in thirty seconds late, you are fired. Unfortunately, your employer will likely get away with this unsavory conduct. But, if you were fired after being injured, you do have legal recourse. And in fact, it may turn out to be a blessing in disguise.
If you were terminated after being injured on the job, your employer is likely still responsible for paying weekly benefits. You are entitled to continue receiving these weekly benefits until there is a change in the status of your injury.
An injured worker may also be fired because of supposed “absences from work.” In this scenario, the employer will likely try to cease paying the weekly benefits. However, an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer has seen this play out time and time again. If your absences were caused by your injury, a lawyer can assist you in reinstating your weekly benefits on until you complete necessary medical treatment and your body heals. One you recover, you should find another job with an employer who appreciates your efforts and treats you appropriately.
It is very common for injured workers in Georgia to be fired after a work injury. If this has happened to you or someone close to you, call us at (404) 565-1618 for a free, no obligation consultation with a workers’ compensation lawyer.
Does it matter who is at fault for my work-related injury?
As a general rule, workers’ compensation is a no-fault system meaning that an injured worker can receive benefits regardless of how the injury occurred. Thus, there is no need to prove that the employer was negligent or was somehow responsible for the injury. Similarly, there is no need to prove that an injured worker was not responsible for their injury.
However, you should be aware of certain narrow exemptions to the no-fault requirement. If a worker’s injury occurred in one of the following ways, workers’ compensation benefits would likely not be available:
- If the injured employee was intoxicated at the time of the injury
- If the injured worker was under the influence of illegal drugs at the time of the injury
- If the worker was injured due to horseplay
- If the worker was injured during a physical altercation
- If the worker was injured as a result of criminal activity
- If the injury was intentionally self-inflicted
How long do I have to file a workers’ compensation claim?
In order to preserve your right to file a workers’ compensation claim, you must notify your employer of your injury within thirty days. If you met this deadline, you have one year from the date of your injury to file your workers’ compensation claim. This deadline is extended in the event that your employer has provided medical treatment for your injury or if you are able to work after your injury.
If you have specific questions regarding important deadlines in workers’ compensation claims, you should consult an attorney to discuss your claim.
Can I be fired for filing a workers’ compensation claim?
Georgia is an at-will employment state. This means that an employee can be fired for any reason at any time. The only exception is that employers are prohibited from firing someone based upon the protected classes of race, color, religion, sex, nation origin, age, disability or veteran status. Thus, an employer can legally fire an employee because they do not like their taste in music – or for any other absurd reason.
Because being injured on the job is not a protected class, an injured worker in Georgia may be fired for filing a workers’ compensation claim. Yet, this actually may work to your benefit.
Typically, an employer can transfer you work a “light duty” position which will limit the amount of workers’ compensation benefits you receive. However, if you are fired due to your work-related injury, your former employer cannot put you back to work. The end result is that your weekly benefits continue to flow.
If you were fired due to a workplace injury, you should consult an attorney who can discuss the specifics of your claim.
How much does a workers’ compensation lawyer charge?
A workers’ compensation lawyer will never require you to pay anything out of pocket because they are paid on a contingency fee. Contingency fees are where the lawyer will take a predetermined portion of the overall settlement for their services. This also means that if we are not successful in your case, you will not be required to pay for our representation.
O.C.G.A. 34-9-108 (a) caps attorney’s fees in workers’ compensation claims at 25%. Therefore, if you settle your workplace injury claim for $10,000.00, your lawyer will receive $2,500.00 and the you will receive $7,500.00.
Another example where a workers’ compensation lawyer would earn 25% of funds distributed to you is if your lawyer is the reason that you began receiving weekly benefits. Most of the time, employers will provide you the required weekly benefits equal to 2/3 of your salary. However, in the event the weekly benefits did not begin until a workers’ compensation lawyer demanded them from your employer, the lawyer would be entitled to 25% of these weekly benefits.
Sometimes, employers refuse to cover a legitimate workplace injury claim and the matter proceeds to a trial. If the court finds that the employer acted in bad faith by refusing to compensate an injured employee for an obviously legitimate claim, the court can award attorney’s fees. In this situation, the injured worker would not pay any fees out of their settlement and the employer must pay the attorney’s fees directly to our law firm.
What happens if my workers’ compensation claim is denied?
Just because your workers’ compensation claim was denied does not mean that you are not entitled to benefits in Georgia. If your claim is denied, a workers’ compensation lawyer can appeal the denial to the State Board of Workers’ Compensation for a hearing. An appeal generally must be filed within one year from the date of your injury.
This hearing will normally take place within 60 days from filing the appeal from your denial of benefits. At this hearing, a neutral judge will listen to both sides and decide if you are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.
At this hearing your employer will have an experienced lawyer arguing that you should not receive benefits. Therefore, it is imperative that you do not try to handle this matter alone. A Georgia workers’ compensation lawyer will give you the best chance of receiving the benefits that you deserve.
Can I file a workers’ compensation claim if I am an independent contractor?
Generally, independent contractors are not entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. But, sometimes an employer will label someone who is really an employee, who is eligible for benefits, as an independent contractor for tax purposes or to avoid workers’ compensation claims.
There is a thirteen-factor test to determine if an injured worker is an employee or an independent contractor:
- Was there a contract that expressed the intent of the parties to classify the injured worker before the injury occurred?
- Who has control over the time, manner, and method of the work to be performed?
- Is the worker paid by the job, hourly, or salary?
- Was the injured worker recently hired?
- Does the employment agreement have a definite beginning and end?
- Who furnishes the necessary tools and equipment?
- Was the injured worker in a skilled position?
- Are there set hours for the injured worker?
- Is the injured worker in a supervisor capacity?
- Is the business of the injured worker different than the employer?
- Is the injured worker free to work for other individuals or is exclusivity required?
- Are taxes withheld for the injured worker?
- Does the injured worker perform additional work for no additional pay?
If your employer has classified you as an independent contractor who is not eligible for workers’ compensation benefits, it is important that you contact a workers’ compensation lawyer who can determine if you may actually be an injured employee who is eligible for benefits.
Can I file a workers’ compensation claim if I am not a U.S. Citizen?
You are allowed to file a workers’ compensation claim even if you are not a United States Citizen. You are also able to file a workers’ compensation claim even if you are an undocumented worker. Importantly, filing a workers’ compensation claim will not have any negative impact on your immigration status. Therefore, there is no reason that would justify you not filing a claim if you were injured at work.
If you were injured in a work-related incident, you should contact an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer who can ensure that you are fairly compensate for your injury.
Can I file a workers’ compensation claim if a family member died on the job?
If you unfortunately lost a relative in a work-related accident, you are able to file for death benefits through Georgia’s workers’ compensation.
Death benefits are intended to compensate the deceased worker’s family financially for the loss of their loved one as well and the lost financial support that the deceased worker provided. The amount of benefits owed to the deceased worker’s family is based upon their salary as well as the number of dependents who are left behind.
Death benefits will initially begin as weekly checks to the heirs of the deceased. Eventually, family will have the option to continue receiving weekly checks or to settle for a negotiated lump sum.
Losing a relative is never easy. If this tragedy has struck your family, we are here to help. We will handle everything with the workers’ compensation claim to give you the space you need to grieve.
Can I get pain and suffering in a workers’ compensation claim?
Unfortunately, under the rules of workers’ compensation, injured workers are not entitled to financial compensation based upon pain and suffering. This seems unfathomable. Yet, it is the reality of all injured workers in Georgia.
The only time that you can receive pain and suffering relating to an injury you received on the job is if there is third party liability. A good example of this would be if you were driving a vehicle as a part of your work duties and were struck and injured by a negligent driver. Here, you would have a viable workers’ compensation claim as well as a negligence claim against the at-fault driver. In this situation you would be able to be reimbursed for your pain and suffering by the negligent driver.
If you have a workers’ compensation claim and have questions about what types of benefits you can receive, call us at (404) 565-1618 to discuss the facts of your work-related injury with a lawyer.
Common mistakes that will affect your Georgia workers’ compensation claim
There are several common mistakes that you can make that may have a significant impact on your claim. These include:
- Failing to timely report your workplace injury: If you were injured on the job, you have thirty days to inform your employer of your injury. If you fail to report your injury in this time period, you will not be entitled to any benefits – no matter how severely you were injured.
- Failing to seek medical treatment: If you were injured on the job, you must seek the medical treatment that you need. If you fail to seek treatment or fail to continue treatment as directed by your doctor, this will diminish the value of your injury claim. Your employer will recognize there is a “gap in treatment” and use this to allege that your injury is not as significant as it really is.
- Misrepresenting the significance of your injury: It is imperative that you are honest to the extent that you are injured. Many injured workers downplay the extent of their injury to appease their employer and so that they can continue working. Later, they discover that the need significant medical treatment and their employer is very skeptical of this because the injury had been ignored for so long. Similarly, it is never appropriate to claim that your injury and discomfort is more significant than what you have actually experienced.
- Not following the recommendations of your doctor: Any recommendations of your doctor, such as additional medical treatment or remaining home of work so that you can recover must be followed. Otherwise, your doctor will report back that you have not been following medical recommendations and this will have a negative impact on your claim.
- Trying to handle the claim alone: Workers’ compensation claims are complicated. There are forms that must be filled out perfectly, unfamiliar terminology, disability ratings, second opinions and negotiations that are all foreign to an injured worker. You should employ an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer who can help you navigate this complicated process.
Call us a (404) 565-1618 to discuss you Georgia workers’ compensation claim. We have offices located in Atlanta and Rome, Georgia. If your injury makes it too burdensome to travel to our office, we will come to you.
The Jason McLendon is a Criminal Defense Attorney who Represents Clients in the Following Criminal Law Areas:
- All felonies and misdemeanors including:
- Violent Crimes
- Drug Crimes
- Property Crimes
- Sexual Offenses