Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim in Georgia
Georgia Workers’ Compensation Treatment
- You need to complete and file a WC-14 (Employer’s First Report of Injury), with the State Board of Workers’ Compensation and send a copy of the form to your employer and their workers’ compensation insurance carrier. The State Board of Workers’ Compensation will provide you with Form WC-14 to file a claim or you can get a copy of the WC-14 from the Board’s website.
- When you have experienced an injury on the job, notifying your employer is very important. Under Georgia law, you only have 30 days to report the accident to your supervisor. If you don’t give proper notice to your supervisor, your claim could be denied.
- You have one year from the date of accident to file a Workers’ compensation claim in Georgia. There are certain instances in which that period of time can be extended, but we recommend filing a claim as soon as possible to avoid potential Statute of Limitations problems.
- While an injured worker can file a workers’ compensation claim with the State Board of Workers’ Compensation, an attorney can assist you in properly preparing your claim. Representing yourself is not a simple matter. The laws on workers’ compensation can be complicated and, if certain requirements are not met, your claim can be denied.
- Attorney fees for claimants are limited to 25% by statute. In certain cases, the attorney fee may be added to the award.
Georgia Workers’ Compensation Waiting Period
- Unlike most situations with cash benefits, your medical benefits are basically never-ending. In other words, once you have an “accepted” claim, one in which your employer or their insurer has paid you income benefits or has paid for your medical treatment, your employer owes you treatment related to that injury for as long as it takes to cure you, provide relief, or restore you to suitable employment. This obligation could go on for your entire life depending on the injury.
- Medical records in a Workers’ compensation case are not confidential. Your employer and their insurance company will likely receive a copy of your medical information relating to your work injury. Also, the employer/insurer may not be required to pay for medical treatment from unauthorized doctors.
- Your employer is required to and likely has posted somewhere in the deep recesses of your workplace a document called a “Panel of Physicians.” This document must contain a list of six doctors or facilities with which you have the right to seek treatment at your employer’s expense. At least one doctor will need to be a licensed orthopedic surgeon. Orthopedic surgeons specialize in chronic and traumatic injuries to the body. However, your employer will likely encourage you to go to an industrial clinic for treatment of your injuries. Know that even after visiting this clinic you still have the right to choose to see an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in injuries like yours.
- If your employer fails to post this “Panel” or does not allow you to select a doctor from this list, they may forfeit control over which physician you receive medical treatment from.
In other words, if you have a compensable work injury, your employer will be stuck paying for any doctor you choose to treat your injuries. For that reason your employer has probably unceremoniously placed this very important document on a wall in a break room next to seldom read minimum wage information, state/federal permits or business licenses, and safety information.
- Once you have identified your employer’s panel of physicians, take clear a picture of it (many people even have cell phone cameras that can do this). If you have the chance, take it down and make a photocopy of it. If no panel of physicians exits, take a photo of the area in which legal notices are hung where no panel is posted.
Georgia Workers’ Compensation Benefits
- An injured employee is NOT entitled to any cash benefits for the first 7 days they are hurt unless the injury period lasts for at least 21 consecutive days. In other words, if you are out of work due to injury, your employer does not need to pay you any cash benefits until the 8th day of disability. If you are still disabled after 21 days, your employer must then go back and compensate you for the first week of your disability.
- Your employer is responsible for paying benefits whether you are earning a lower wage with the same or a different employer. You are eligible for these benefits for up to 350 weeks after you are injured.
- You are entitled to what is known as TTD benefits if your work injury results in your total disability from work. TTD benefits are two-thirds of your of your average weekly wage, but no more than $500 per week for injuries occurring on or after July 1, 2007. For injuries occurring prior to July 1, 2007, please use our TTD benefits calculator (link). Unless your injury is determined to be “catastrophic” you are only entitled to TTD benefits for a maximum period of 400 weeks from the date of injury.
- You are entitled to TPD benefits when your earning capacity is impaired but you are not totally disabled from work. This means if you are injured and are unable to earn a weekly wage equal to the wage you were earning, you are entitled to two-thirds the difference between your wage before and after the accident, but no more than $334 per week.
- “Catastrophic” injuries are not subject to the 400- week cap and include such injuries as paralysis, brain injury, severe neurological disorders, total blindness, and amputations of an arm, hand, foot or leg. An attorney can advise you if your injury may be “catastrophic” under Georgia law.
- You do not necessarily have to be 100% physically disabled to be considered disabled from work. It does mean that you have a 100% impairment of earning capacity. If you are able to return to light duty work and your employer cannot or will not accept you back at work, you may still be entitled to TTD benefits.
- Unlike TTD and TPD, this benefit relates entirely to your level of physical disability, not your earning capacity. An employee may be entitled to this benefit even if they never missed a day of work or lost any wages due to an injury. PPD is based entirely on a formula that takes into account your percentage of impairment (as determined by your doctor, not your employer), the part of the body impaired, and your compensation rate. However, PPD benefits will not begin until after an employee stops receiving weekly TTD or TPD payments.
- If you believe you are due benefits and your insurance carrier/employer denies these benefits, you must file a claim within one year after the date of last authorized medical treatment or within two years of your last payment of weekly benefits or you will lose your right to these benefits.
If you have legal questions and would like the help of an attorney who is knowledgeable about the laws of your state, click here for a free evaluation
of your claim.
Georgia Workers’ Compensation Contact Information
Carolyn Hall, Chairman
Board of Workers’ Compensation
270 Peachtree Street, NW
Atlanta, GA 30303-1299
(404) 656-3875 or 1-800-533-0682
NOTICE: These questions and answers concern Georgia law only, and should not be construed nor relied upon as reflecting the law in other States, nor as giving legal advice. You are warned that circumstances often vary greatly and that, due to changing decisions and law, the answers to these questions may change over time and not be current, and you should consult an attorney in any specific case, and NOT rely on these questions and answers as giving anything other than general information.