Workers’ Compensation FAQ’s
Learn more from your Atlanta Workers’ Compensation Lawyer
What is workers’ compensation?
Workers’ Compensation, sometimes called workman’s compensation, is an accident insurance program. Your employer pays for this coverage at no cost to you. If you are injured on the job, workers’ compensation provides money and medical care to you. It also provides accidental death benefits to your dependents if you die as a result of a work-related injury.
Am I eligible for benefits under workers’ compensation?
If you were injured on the job, yes.
How long do I have to work to be covered?
Any company employing three or more people must have workers’ compensation. This includes part-time workers. You are covered the moment you start working. Workers’ comp does not have the same delay as health insurance. Your employer is required, by law, to provide this insurance coverage immediately. You can verify workers’ comp insurance by visiting the Verify Workers’ Compensation Coverage web page.
When do I have to report an injury?
As soon as you can. The law allows you 30 days to report the injury. You must report it to your boss, foreman or supervisor. The sooner you report the injury, the better it is. If you wait more than 30 days, you could lose your benefits.
Do I have to see a doctor?
As the top workers’ compensation attorneys in Atlanta, we highly recommend you see a doctor. Do not worry about medical bills. Workers’ compensation pays for all your medical care, including x-rays, follow-up appointments and any necessary prescriptions.
You must see a doctor as listed on the Workers’ Compensation sheet where you work, unless it is an emergency.
What if it is an emergency?
Go to the nearest emergency care facility. Do not try to make an appointment or call one of the approved doctors.
Why can’t I use my doctor?
State law says you must use a doctor approved by your employer.
The list of approved doctors must be at least six physicians. You can pick from the list. In special cases, the State Workers’ Compensation Board can approve less than six doctors. This is done case by case. Your employer has to ask for the waiver.
The list of doctors has to include at least one orthopedic doctor and no more than two “industrial” clinics. If possible, a minority physician must be included.
You can change from one doctor to another on the list, one time, without permission of your employer.
An employer can post a Workers’ Compensation Managed Care Organization (WC/MCO) list instead of six doctors. Your employer has to tell you about this list and give you a 24-hour toll-free number to a managed care organization. If you need medical care, call that number. Someone will help you make an appointment.
Again, if it is an emergency, go to the nearest emergency care center or emergency room. Workers’ compensation will take care of these bills.
What if I need a specialist?
The first doctor you see will make that determination. Again, workers’ compensation will cover these bills.
Who pays for the medical care?
Workers’ compensation insurance covers the bills. It covers you even if you go to an emergency room that is not listed on the sheet. The most important thing is to get the medical care you need.
What is covered?
Any authorized doctor’s bill, hospital bill, physical therapy, prescriptions and necessary travel if your injury was caused by an accident on the job. You may also qualify for vocational rehabilitation. If you are injured badly enough to go to an emergency room, this is also covered.
How long can I get benefits?
In Georgia, if your injury was before June 30, 2013, you can get lifetime medical benefits. Accidents after July 1, 2013, are covered for 400 weeks after the accident date. If the injury is catastrophic, you may be entitled to lifetime benefits?
What is a catastrophic injury?
The State Board of Workers’ Compensation defines a catastrophic injury as, “those involving amputations, severe paralysis, severe head injuries, severe burns, blindness, or of a nature and severity that prevents the employee from being able to perform his or her prior work and any work available in substantial numbers within the national economy. In catastrophic cases, you are entitled to receive two-thirds of your average weekly wage up to the maximum allowed under the law for a job-related injury for as long as you are unable to return to work.”
When do my benefits start?
You can receive benefits if you are out of work for seven days. You should get a check within 21 days after the first day of missed work. If you miss more than 21 days in a row, you will also get a check for the first week you could not work.
How much will I get?
You can get two-thirds of your average weekly pay, but not more than $550 a week for any accident that happened on or after July 1, 2015.
If you can go back to work part-time or reduced hours or for less pay, you can continue to get reduced benefits for up to 350 weeks. In this case, you can’t get more than $367 a week if your accident happened on or after July 1, 2015.
How long can I get benefits?
Up to 400 weeks. If your injury is catastrophic, you can have benefits for life.
What if my injury keeps me from getting a job?
You can get help to learn how to do another job. If you can’t work at all, you may be entitled to lifetime help. The Cochran Firm, (404) 222-9922, can tell you more about this. The State Board of Workers’ Compensation, (404) 656-0849, also has more information.
What benefits will I get if my injury causes permanent disability?
This depends on the injury. The doctor handling your medical care will decide, using the Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment fifth edition, published by the American Medical Association. If you think you are not being treated fairly, contact us immediately. You can appeal the physician’s decision.
What if I lose an arm, a leg or some other body part?
State law determines how much you can receive. We can tell you if you are being treated fairly if this happens to you.
What if I am blinded or made deaf?
You qualify for benefits. We can also tell you if you are receiving a fair settlement.
What if I lose the ability to use part of my body?
You can get benefits. The doctor will decide how much the loss affects you. Sometimes a doctor’s evaluation doesn’t cover your actual losses. We’ll be glad to review your case for you.
What are death benefits?
When an employee is killed on the job, state law allows surviving dependents to collect two-thirds of your weekly pay up to $550 a week. Dependents are your spouse, minor children and step-children. A surviving spouse with no children is allowed up to $220,000. in total money benefits.
Can I get Workers’ Compensation and Social Security at the same time?
Yes. Your Social Security may be reduced.
What if I am not getting my workers’ compensation benefits?
Contact The Cochran Firm immediately at (404) 222-9922. You have a year after the injury to file for benefits. You should also file a Form WC-14 with the State Board of Workers’ Compensation.
How do I file a claim?
Your employer should start the process for you. You will have to fill out some forms. If you can’t, someone will help you. If you can’t sign the forms, others will have to witness this for you. The State Board of Workers’ Compensation will give you a Form WC-14. You can also call the Board at (404) 656-3818 in Atlanta and 1-800-533-0682 outside the metro Atlanta area.
What happens when I file a claim?
You should start getting benefits. If you do not get benefits, call The Cochran Firm immediately at (404) 222-9922. If you think you are not being treated fairly or are being denied benefits, call us.
We’ll review your claim. We may decide that you need to have a hearing. If you need to go to a hearing, we will represent you and advise you every step of the way. We’ll tell you when the hearing is and where it will be. It’s usually held within 60 days of the request for a hearing and near where you work.
The law says you do not. But you could be facing lawyers for your employer and the insurance company. The Cochran Firm’s attorneys know the Georgia workers’ compensation law. We will represent you and make sure all your rights are protected.
How much will a lawyer cost me?
The State Board of Workers’ Compensation approves any fee of more than $100. It cannot be more than 25 percent of your financial award. We will explain the fee to you and make sure you thoroughly understand it before you sign.
Where can I get more information?
From our office. Fill out the contact form and we will get back to you as soon as well can.
The State Board of Workers’ Compensation has a handbook available as a free PDF download.