Being hurt at work can be very frustrating and confusing for many people. In Georgia, the Workers’ Compensation Act applies to businesses with three or more regular employees. Generally, any physical injury or accident that arose out of and in the course of employment qualifies for workers’ compensation.
Therefore, the employee must have been doing his or her job duties when the injury occurred. It is important to note that Georgia Workers' Compensation is a no-fault system. Hence, an employee who caused the accident still may be eligible for workers' compensation benefits. However, if the employee intentionally caused the accident; was engaged in “horse play”; was under the influence of drugs or alcohol; or failed to adhere to accepted safety procedures (like wearing safety goggles or harnesses) then these injuries will not be generally accepted under the workers’ compensation system.
When an employee gets hurt at work, the first thing he or she should do is seek medical attention. If the employee needs emergency treatment, then he or she should call 911 for help. At the medical facility, it is imperative that the injured employee report that the accident occurred at work and the nature of how the work accident happened. Moreover, he or she should report all the body parts which were injured at the time. The law requires that the injury be reported to the Employer. Therefore, the injured worker should report the details of the accident to his or her immediate supervisor in writing if possible. This report should closely follow what the injured worker told the medical facility. It should mirror how the accident happened, where it happened, and what body parts were injured.
Subsequently, the worker should ask the Employer for its list of approved doctors which he or she can choose from to receive on going care related to the accident. If the Employer, does not have a list, then the employee may be eligible to see any doctor he or she wants to see. In these cases, we recommend that you contact an attorney to help you select a doctor. In our opinion, the choice of doctor at this stage is very important as it will greatly impact your case. Some physicians are very insurance oriented and will comply with almost everything the insurance companies want them to do. Others are more patient advocates who will listen to the injured worker and genuinely attempt to resolve his or her pain. As there are so many doctors out there, it would benefit him or her to secure the assistance of an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer to help him or her select the right physician.
If this physician determines that the worker is unable to return to work, then the injured employee may be entitled to income benefits. These income benefits are based on your pre-taxed average weekly wages. In many instances, these wages are miscalculated by the insurance adjusters. Therefore, it is important that the workers’ keep track of their pre-injury wages to ensure that they are receiving the correct rate of compensation. As with medical assistance, we believe that having a workers’ compensation lawyer would be a great benefit to determining an injured worker’s proper compensation.
Lastly, the injured employees are entitled to mileage reimbursement to and from their medical appointments related to their work injury. Keep a running diary or log detailing every time the injured worker goes to the doctor or therapist as those trips may be eligible for mileage reimbursement if the client used a personal vehicle.
Bryan Ramos began the Ramos Law Firm in April of 2005 to assist Georgia’s injured workers. A graduate of Florida State University and the Walter F. George School of Law at Mercer University, he is a member of the U.S. Supreme Court, Georgia Bar Association, Georgia Trial Lawyers Association and more.