Professional Support For Your Workers’ Compensation Claim
In Georgia, employers with three or more employees are required to provide workers’ compensation for those injured on the job. However, many companies and their insurers will try to minimize the compensation that you could be entitled to.
To protect your right to workers’ compensation benefits, you should consult with an experienced Jonesboro workers’ compensation attorney. Since 1992, Skibiel Law has helped thousands of injured workers receive the medical care and compensation they deserve.
Advocating For Prompt Payment And Quality Medical Care
Our role as your advocate is to ensure the prompt payment of income benefits and delivery of quality medical care following a serious on-the-job accident. We represent truckers, construction workers, manufacturers, utility employees, restaurant staff, retail workers and many other workers.
The possible injuries from a work accident can vary widely, and they may involve:
- Back and neck injuries: Herniated disks and other injuries involving the neck or back can cause severe pain and stiffness. In extreme cases, they can also affect the nerves within the spinal cord.
- Brain and spinal cord injuries: These injuries often affect nerves, memory or cognitive functions. In some cases, spinal cord injuries can cause paralysis, including paraplegia and quadriplegia. Severe brain trauma could be fatal.
- Amputation injuries: Loss of limb is usually devastating. It might prevent you from working, driving or living independently.
- Repetitive use injuries: Repeated muscle movement at work may lead to permanent damage and conditions such as arthritis or carpal tunnel syndrome. This damage could keep you from doing your job without intense pain, and sometimes, it may also lead to physical limitations that make your job impossible to do.
- Burn injuries: Serious burns can lead to scarring, disfigurement, pain and severe tissue damage. Explosions, fires, chemicals and sources of high heat like ovens or kilns put workers at risk of burn injuries.
We seek to maximize your workers’ compensation settlement to ensure you receive the income benefits and medical benefits you are entitled to under Georgia workers’ compensation laws. We will explain your rights using plain language and help you understand what to do if you’re injured on the job to ensure those rights are protected immediately following an accident and throughout your recovery.
In cases involving catastrophic injuries or death, our lawyer will aggressively seek compensation for transportation, housing, attendant care and vocational services for family members of the deceased through survivor’s benefits.
What Forms Are Involved (Or Could Be Involved) In The Workers’ Compensation Claims Process?
In Georgia, the workers’ compensation claims process may involve several forms. The documents needed will depend on factors like the type of your job and the Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation (SBWC) requirements.
There are over 50 standard workers’ compensation forms in Georgia, but you will likely only need a few. When filing a claim, WC-14, which is a Notice of Claim/Request for Hearing, is the most critical for your needs. Once filed, this serves as your declaration that you have suffered a work injury and need benefits.
With WC-14, you’ll also submit documents related to your injury, such as your medical bills and receipts for any injury-related expenses, plus documents related to your work, such as your earnings records.
Other forms you may encounter include:
- Physicians forms: WC-P1, WC-P2, or WC-P3
- WC-2: Notice of Payment or Suspension of Benefits
- WC-6: Wage Statement
- WC-102(b): Notice of Representation
- WC-102(d): Motion/Objection to Motion
- WC-200: Change of Physician Request/Agreement
- WC-207: Permission and Consent to Release Medical Information
- Form WC-R1: Request for Rehabilitation
After an injury in or out of your workplace, you may face different legal challenges while seeking compensation, including claim denial or disputes over benefits. Also, the process of receiving workers’ compensation involves extensive phone calls, paperwork, receipts and documentation. The entire process can be confusing and overwhelming because of all the forms you need to be equipped with during the claims process, not to mention the worry about medical bills and when to get back to work.
Thankfully, our knowledgeable and compassionate attorneys can review your situation, determine eligibility and help you avoid clerical and administrative problems while filing a Georgia workers’ compensation claim. If eligible, the attorneys will help you file a workers’ compensation claim, negotiate with the insurance company and represent you in court to help ensure you receive fair compensation for the injury.
We Match Our Services To Your Needs
Our attorneys have cross-disciplinary knowledge, which is especially useful if you have multiple concerns about your case. If a work accident caused a disability, we can help you apply for Social Security Disability benefits in addition to workers’ compensation benefits. If your work accident involved a motor vehicle crash, our experienced lawyers can assist you with insurance and other related matters.
We have obtained many successful case results through aggressive negotiation or litigation. Whatever your circumstances, we are committed to defending your rights against reluctant insurance companies. If you have questions about the legal process or your options, we can give you clear and helpful answers.
The Workers’ Compensation Process In Georgia
According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, a total of 3.2 out of every 100 workers recorded nonfatal workplace-related injuries or illnesses in the state of Georgia. Many of these cases would logically have resulted in workers’ compensation claims being filed. All people in the Georgia workforce should understand what this program offers and how it works in the event that they are ever injured or develop illnesses because of work-related situations.
Workers’ Compensation Benefits In The Event Of Death
For people who are killed due to on-the-job incidents, whether falling accidents, explosions, fires or otherwise, the state’s workers’ compensation program does offer some benefits to surviving family members, as noted by the State Board of Workers’ Compensation Bill of Rights.
For spouses when there are no children, the program will pay up to a maximum of $150,000 in benefits so long as the spouse does not remarry or live with a new partner. For dependents, up to $7,500 for funeral or other associated expenses. Additionally, weekly benefits amounting to 66 percent of the deceased person’s earnings will be paid but will not exceed $500 per week.
Workers’ Compensation Benefits For Nonfatal Injuries Or Illnesses
Regardless of the nature of a qualifying illness or injury, approved claims will be paid at a rate of 66 percent of normal earnings, up to a maximum of $500 per week. For those cases considered to involve catastrophic injuries, this benefit will continue indefinitely. For all other cases, benefits will be paid for a maximum of 400 weeks, or just over seven and a half years.
Catastrophic injuries include the following:
- Loss of arms or legs
- Serious burns
- Some head injuries
- Extreme paralysis
Other conditions which prevent injured parties from resuming work can also be classified in the catastrophic category.
If employees are able to return to work but can only perform jobs that pay less than what was being earned previously, the workers’ compensation program will also pay some benefits to accommodate for the reduced income.
What Forms Are Involved In The Claims Process?
The state requires that injured employees or their surviving family members file Form WC-14 be filed with the State Board of Workers’ Compensation, the employer and the workers’ compensation insurer. This form is available at the state office as well as online. Any denials can be appealed through the state office.
How Should Employees Get Help?
No matter the nature of an incident, when an on-the-job accident or illness arises, talking to an attorney can help. Ensuring that all documentation is adequately provided is one way to help prevent workers’ compensation claim denials.
When Am I Entitled To Workers’ Compensation Income Benefits?
Following a job accident, an injured worker may become entitled to weekly income benefits from workers’ compensation. The purpose of income benefits is to replace an injured worker’s wages when a job injury is disabling. Unfortunately, it sometimes takes a lawyer’s help to obtain the income benefits you deserve or to restart them after they have been stopped.
Who Determines If I Qualify For Benefits?
An injured worker’s inability to work or disability is determined by their treating physician. The opinion of the treating physician regarding disability can start or stop payment of weekly workers’ compensation income benefits. Missing work without an excuse from the treating physician will not normally result in the payment of weekly income benefits.
Georgia workers’ compensation income benefits are generally paid in these two disability situations:
- An excuse from the treating physician recommending no work
- An excuse from the treating physician recommending light-duty work and the employer is unable to accommodate light-duty restrictions
Once disability is determined, it is the length of disability that will determine if and when payment is made. Workers’ compensation law does not require payment of income benefits for the first seven days of disability unless the injured worker is disabled for three weeks. Workers’ compensation law does not require the first payment for disability to be made until 20 days after the first date of disability.
Am I Entitled To Workers’ Compensation Benefits Following A Failed Drug Or Alcohol Test?
Recognizing the dangers of an impaired workforce, Georgia has passed laws that deny workers’ compensation benefits to injured workers whose intoxication is the cause of the accident that led to their injuries. Although these laws contain important safety features, they sometimes result in the denial of workers’ compensation benefits to an injured worker who is not impaired or intoxicated.
When Can Workers’ Comp Benefits Be Denied?
In order for a denial of workers’ compensation benefits to be upheld in court, the employer must prove 1) that the injured worker was impaired and 2) that the impairment was the cause of the accident. Proof of these two facts is usually obtained from:
- Fellow employees who saw the injured worker’s impairment
- Blood or urine tests
Following a work accident, an employer will usually request a drug and alcohol test. The injured worker is not legally obligated to undergo this test; however, a refusal to undergo this test normally results in a legal presumption that the injured worker was impaired and the impairment was the cause of the accident. Positive drug and alcohol testing taken within a short time following the accident may also result in the same legal presumption.
Although our office does not condone the use of intoxicating substances, it has been our experience in some cases that workers’ compensation benefits have been wrongfully denied when an injured worker was neither intoxicated or their impairment was not the cause of the work accident. Our lawyers will engage in a thorough investigation of intoxication defense cases to determine whether the denial of workers’ compensation benefits was justified.
How Can I Disprove A Claim That I Was Impaired By Drugs Or Alcohol?
The following information may be helpful to a lawyer in disproving impairment or intoxication:
- Testimony of fellow employees who may have ridden to work with, went to lunch with and were around the injured worker prior to the accident
- A precise description of how the accident occurred
- Testimony of witnesses to the accident
- Whether a drug and alcohol test was performed and if so, when
- If a drug or alcohol was consumed prior to or after the accident, the amount of consumption and witnesses to the consumption
- If testing revealed the presence of a prescription drug, the prescribing doctor’s information
If you have been denied workers’ compensation due to a failed drug or alcohol test, attorney Mark A. Skibiel can help you assert your rights and fight the decision.
Workers’ Compensation FAQ: Answers To Common Questions
Workers’ compensation cases are sensitive, and benefits are usually vital for the employee. It is important to have the information you need to make sure you are being treated fairly.
If the accident was my fault, can I still get benefits?
Generally, fault does not impact your ability to claim workers’ compensation benefits. If you made a mistake at work, you can still file your claim. However, if you were working while intoxicated or failed a drug test, you may face an additional risk to your case. Your lawyer can help you assess the situation and support your claim.
What if a third party caused my work injury?
It is possible that a different company, driver or another party is responsible for your injuries. This is especially common on construction sites, which often contain multiple contractors working together. You may be able to sue a third party whose negligence caused your accident or illness.
If my employer fires me, can I still file a claim?
While your employer cannot retaliate simply because you file a workers’ compensation claim, they may have a just cause to fire you. Depending on the circumstances, being fired can affect your case – but it does not mean that you automatically lose your chance to get compensation. Discuss your case with a qualified Georgia attorney if you are not sure what your options are.
What can I do if my workers’ compensation claim was rejected?
Claim denial is surprisingly common – even for legitimate claims. Insurance companies may deny workers’ compensation claims for a variety of reasons. Fortunately, your lawyer can help you appeal their decision and prepare a strong claim on your behalf.
Contact An Attorney With Proven Results For Your Case
If you or a loved one has suffered a serious job injury, don’t wait to get the compensation you deserve. Call us locally at 770-968-3445 or toll-free at 770-968-3554 to schedule your free initial consultation today. You may also contact us online. We handle cases on a contingency basis, meaning there are no attorney’s fees unless we make a recovery for you. Se habla español.