If you have been injured at work in the state of Georgia, you have rights under the Georgia Workers’ Compensation Act. This Act mandates that employers have insurance coverage to provide medical treatment for your injury and weekly disability income benefits to help replace your lost wages.
Filing a workers’ compensation claim sounds like an easy process, but a number of steps in that process can go disastrously wrong. That’s why you should speak right away to a Georgia workers’ compensation lawyer.
Report Your Injury
After sustaining an injury at work, you must give notice of the injury to your supervisor or manager. You must provide notice of the injury directly to your employer within 30 days of the date of accident, or you may forfeit your right to receive workers’ compensation benefits.
Get Medical Treatment
If the accident resulted in an medical emergency, you can seek immediate medical treatment. This is true even if the treating doctor is not listed on the posted list of physicians that your employer is required to provide. You can continue receiving treatment from this emergency doctor until your injury is no longer considered an emergency. You must then seek treatment from one of the doctors your employer has listed. The employer’s list must include at least six doctors, one of which must be an orthopedic surgeon.
In the case that you are dissatisfied with the first doctor you see, you may change physicians one time from one panel doctor to another. However, after you’ve changed doctors once, you must tell your employer and get authorization before you change physicians again.
Follow Your Doctor’s Orders
After you start receiving treatment for your workplace injuries, it is vital to your claim that you follow your doctor’s orders. If you do not, the doctor will likely report that to the workers’ compensation insurance company which may result in the suspension of your benefits.
Many injured employees do not follow their doctor’s orders. The reason: they do not believe the suggested treatment is going to aid in their recovery. When this is the case, you have a right to obtain a second opinion. This is done through an independent medical exam, also commonly referred to as an IME. If you disagree with the opinion provided by your employer’s doctor, a workers’ compensation lawyer can help you find a physician to conduct an IME.
To continue receiving workers’ compensation, you must follow your doctor’s order that clears you to return to work. If you feel as though you are unable to return to work, you do not have to go back, but you should understand that the insurance company may stop providing benefits.
If a doctor clears you for light-duty work, you must attempt to perform that job for at least eight hours. If you cannot perform the job for at least eight hours, and have tried for less than 15 days, you can continue to receive benefits from workers’ compensation. If that light duty pays at a lower rate than the wages you were earning before your injury, or provides fewer hours, workers’ compensation benefits are paid to make up the balance.
To continue receiving workers’ comp, it is crucial that you follow all of the above steps.
Talk to an Attorney About How to File a Workers’ Compensation Claim in Georgia
Employees who are injured at work in Georgia have a right to workers’ compensation benefits. However, the steps for claiming this coverage are complex and often frustrating.
If you were hurt in a workplace accident, call our Augusta workers’ compensation lawyers at Gregory Smith Law, LLC now. We understand this complex system and deal with it every day. We can help you through it while giving you the best chance of success with your claim. Call us today or contact us online to schedule your free consultation.