Workers’ Compensation: Frequently Asked Questions
Many people do not understand the workers’ compensation process or even know they are eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. That’s why the attorneys at Cummings & Middlebrooks have dedicated their careers to helping workers understand this important topic as well as navigate the complicated process of obtaining income and medical benefits. Below are common workers’ compensation questions that we often receive.
Common Workers’ Comp Questions:
What is workers’ compensation? Workers’ compensation benefits are available following a work-related injury or industrial illness. If an injury arises out of and in the course and scope of employment, the worker is entitled to benefits that may include weekly income payments and medical treatment from a professional physician. In Georgia, most employers are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance. However, employers with less than three employees are exempt and not required to maintain workers’ compensation insurance.
What types of benefits are offered? Available benefits can include payment of medical expenses, medical mileage reimbursement, weekly benefit payments for total or partial disability, and, in most cases, permanent partial disability payments for impairment ratings associated with the work injury and assigned by your treating physician. For more information regarding income benefits, visit our income benefits page. Death benefits are available to surviving spouses and dependents of workers. Visit our catastrophic injury/death page for more information.
What types of injuries or diseases are covered? Essentially, all types of work-related injuries and industrial illnesses are covered by workers’ compensation. Common examples include repetitive use injuries like carpal-tunnel syndrome, joint injuries, back and neck injuries, wrist/hand injuries, and foot/ankle injuries. An aggravation of a pre-existing condition can be covered as long as the aggravation persists. Lastly, psychological problems can be covered if accompanied by an actual physical injury.
What steps should I take if I am injured at work?
First: you should immediately seek medical treatment at the nearest facility.
- Second: give notice of the accident and injury to your employer as soon as practically possible. In Georgia, you are required to notify your employer within thirty (30) days of the accident occurrence.
- Third: contact an experienced and knowledgeable attorney to assist you in filing a claim to insure you receive all benefits to which you are entitled.
Can I choose my own doctor? Beyond emergency treatment, the choice of a treating physician may belong to the employer or the employee, depending on the situation. Sometimes the employee is allowed to choose any physician to oversee their medical treatment, and other times the employee must choose from a list of medical providers compiled by the employer. See our Medical Benefits page for more information.
What if my work injury was caused by a third party not associated with my employer? In most cases, and in the absence of willful misconduct on your part, you are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits if you are harmed in the course and scope of your employment duties. If a third party is at fault, you will still be able to pursue workers’ compensation benefits against your employer, and may also be able to sue the third party that caused the injury in a separate action. The third party could be a manufacturer, distributor or seller of faulty equipment, or a negligent driver who causes a work-related motor vehicle accident.
You’ve been injured on the job, what next?
Workers’ compensation laws are complicated and it can be easy to make mistakes if you elect to proceed alone and without legal representation. While anyone injured on the job can file a workers’ compensation claim with the State Board of Workers’ Compensation, it is usually advisable to do so with the help of an experienced lawyer.