If you have suffered an injury on the job in the Sandy Springs area, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits to aid in your recovery. These benefits can help with medical expenses and provide support during a period when you are unable to work.
The workers’ compensation scheme in Georgia and most other states was established to create a “no fault” benefit system. In exchange for receiving benefits without having to prove any negligence or wrongdoing on the part of the employer, injured employees usually give up the right to sue their employer for damages related to a workplace accident.
While the amount of benefits an employee can recover is less than an award might be in court, the process was intended to be easier and quicker than filing a civil suit. Unfortunately, that is often not how it plays out in practice.
The workers’ compensation scheme in Georgia provides different types of benefits to injured employees. Medical benefits cover items such as payments to doctors, hospital bills, services such as X-rays and MRIs, physical therapy, prescription medications, prosthetic devices, and other necessary medical expenses associated with the injury.
In addition, the employee may receive benefits to cover the cost of transportation to medical appointments and therapy sessions. These benefits may continue for up to 400 weeks if deemed necessary by the State Board of Workers’ Compensation. If the employee suffers an injury considered “catastrophic,” the medical benefits may continue indefinitely, as established in Georgia Code §34-9-200.
An employee who is currently receiving medical benefits must submit to reasonable examination by an authorized physician or risk losing access to their benefits. Those suffering from “occupational diseases” such as asbestosis may also be entitled to medical benefits through workers’ compensation if they can show a direct connection between the disease and the conditions of employment.
If an employee who is injured on the job is unable to work for a week or more, they should be entitled to receive income benefit equal to two-thirds of their average weekly wage as calculated 13 weeks prior to the accident. As of 2016, the maximum income benefits that will be paid through this form of workers’ compensation is $575.00 per week.
These income benefits may continue for up to 400 weeks, and the employee should begin receiving income benefits within three weeks after the first missed day of work. If the employee is unable to work for more than 21 consecutive days, the employee may receive benefits for the first seven days missed as well.
If an employee is able to return to work but, because of their injury, is not able to perform work at the same rate of pay, the employee may be entitled to reduced income benefits to help make up the difference. The State Board of Workers’ Compensation provides assistance to those who need to find a different job or need training to perform a different type of work.
For employees who are permanently disabled due to a work injury, the State of Georgia created a schedule establishing the amount of compensation to be provided for different types of disability or the loss of particular digits or limbs.
The schedule also establishes the amount to be paid to family members in the event of a workers’ death. As of 2016, the weekly death benefit is capped at $575 per week, with a $7,500 burial allowance and a maximum benefit of $230,000.
The laws and regulations pertaining to workers’ compensation are subject to change at any time, and there are limitations and requirements that affect employees differently. Be sure to consult with your employer during this process.