If Only Georgia Workers' Compensation Claims Were Always Straightforward
You're hurt on the job in Georgia. Shouldn't it be as simple as filing a workers' comp claim to get benefits?
It should be, but unfortunately the process is often presents a major challenge for injured workers.
The Purpose of the Georgia Workers' Compensation Law
Georgia workers’ compensation law is designed to provide medical coverage and a basic level of support for employees who are injured on the job. It grew out of oppressive working conditions as the state and country industrialized at the turn of the 20th century.
Workers theoretically had the opportunity to sue their employers much as they can now for personal injuries that occur outside the workplace. Courts typically found, however, that workers had assumed the risk of injury when they took a job, that their negligence contributed to their injury, or that their claim was barred because a fellow worker caused the injury. Even if a suit was possible, it was expensive and time-consuming, so that the worker had no help when he needed it most.
The extent of industrial carnage is hard to comprehend in today’s much safer workplaces. In 1917, the number of American workers who died on the job was greater than the number of American soldiers killed in World War I.
Employers understandably resisted full exposure to personal injury suits, so a compromise was reached and adopted throughout the country. Workers still would not be allowed to sue, but their medical bills would be paid for injuries “arising out of and in the course of their employment.” They would be paid a percentage of their wages while they recovered. And they also would be compensated if their injuries were catastrophic. State agencies such as the Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation were set up across the country to administer the programs.
Serious Workplace Injuries are a Different Matter
The system in Georgia works well for minor injuries. The worker typically gets treatment through physicians or a plan administrator designated by the company with relatively little paperwork involved.
Serious injuries are a different matter. The administrative hoops that an injured worker must jump through can be confusing, and the failure to negotiate them can result in the loss of benefits. At the Dover Law Firm, our Georgia workers' compensation lawyers are familiar with the regulations of the Board of Workers’ Compensation. We can guide you through the maze, and, just as important, make sure that your employer complies with the regulations, just as it will insist that you do.
Employers often contest serious claims or try to minimize their liability, as well they might, because the total cost is substantial. Although workers’ compensation costs are usually less than 2 percent of payroll, the average cost of a completed claim in which the injury causes the employee to miss time at work is more than $18,000, and the total cost of those claims exceeded $870 million in 2001, the most recent year with relatively complete costs of benefits.
They might contend, for example, that your injury was not directly related to your employment, or that it occurred because you violated safety rules. And they might argue that you forfeited those benefits by not complying strictly with state law or the board’s regulations.
Our Georgia Workers' Compensation Attorneys Can Help You With a Denial
You have the right to contest a denial of benefits and request a hearing before an administrative law judge. If the judge decides in favor of your employer, you may request a review by the board’s appellate division or pursue a further appeal in the court system.
The employer will have lawyers who are very experienced in workers’ compensation law and procedures to represent them at those proceedings. You will be at a great disadvantage if you don’t have someone just as competent on your side.
Make sure that you receive all of the benefits that you’re entitled to, by calling the Dover Law Firm today. The consultation is free, so you have nothing to lose by picking up the phone and calling our office.