Common Workers’ Compensation Questions for Employees in Georgia and South Carolina
When tackling insurance disputes and disagreements with large corporations, workers’ compensation claimants can easily become overwhelmed, especially when doing so while recovering from an injury. Our collection of frequently asked questions provides answers to common questions in a quick, easy-to-understand format.
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What are the differences between workers’ comp and personal injury cases?
Like many workers, you may not know much about workers’ compensation and personal injury claims or have any need to be knowledgeable about them unless you are injured in a workplace accident. If this occurs, you will need to file a claim for compensation. It can be confusing to determine which type of claim to file, especially if you suffered injuries in a car accident—traditionally a personal injury claim—while on the job. Here, we explain some of the major differences between these two legal claims and your options for recovery if you are hurt in a workplace accident.
Difference #1: Fault in Causing Your Accident
One of the major differences in a workers’ compensation and personal injury claim is the issue of who was at fault in causing the accident. Here is how fault works in both types of claims:
- Personal injury. In a personal injury case, you must prove the other party’s fault, or negligence, in causing your accident and injuries. In addition, if you were at all at fault in causing your injuries, you may receive less in settlement based on your comparative negligence.
- Workers’ compensation. In Georgia, like other states, workers’ compensation is a no-fault system. This means that you are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits no matter who caused your accident—even if it was you.
Difference #2: Types of Compensation You Could Receive
The types of compensation that you could be entitled to in a workers’ compensation and personal injury case is also very different. In a personal injury claim, you are entitled to be compensated for all of your losses. This can include the following:
- Past and future medical bills
- Past and future lost wages and benefits of the job
- Lost earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
- Wrongful death benefits
One of the major differences is that pain and suffering damages are not recoverable in workers’ compensation cases. You can receive these benefits in a workers’ comp case:
- Past and future medical bills
- Wage losses up to a current maximum of $575 per week for up to 400 weeks
- Partial permanent disability benefits
- Total permanent disability benefits
- Vocational rehabilitation
- Death benefits
Difference #3: Right to Sue
You also have different rights to sue in a personal injury and workers’ compensation case. In exchange for the right to workers’ compensation benefits regardless of fault, you are not entitled to sue your employer or co-workers for negligence and pain and suffering damages. Instead, you are limited to filing a workers’ compensation claim.
In contrast, if you suffered an injury in a car, slip and fall, or other personal injury accident, you could file a lawsuit in civil court against any liable parties and request that you receive all the compensation you deserve.
Can You Ever File a Personal Injury Lawsuit If You Suffered a Workplace Injury?
In some cases, you may be able to file a workers’ compensation claim with your employer’s insurance company and also pursue a claim for negligence. You would be able to do this if you suffered an injury at work, but it was caused by a third party’s negligence. Here are a few situations where you may have both claims:
- You are driving between job sites and are injured in a car accident caused by a negligent driver. You can file a workers’ comp claim with your employer and a personal injury claim against the negligent driver.
- You are working on a construction site and a subcontractor’s employee causes your accident and injuries. You may have a negligence claim against the subcontractor as well as a right to workers’ compensation benefits from your employer.
- You are injured due to a defective tool you were using at work. You may have a separate products liability claim against the manufacturer.
Do you need to file a workers’ compensation claim? Our experienced workers’ compensation attorneys are here to file your claim for you and fight for the benefits you may deserve. In addition, we will pursue claims against any other liable parties to ensure that you receive all the compensation that you are owed. To learn more, contact us online or call us directly at 888.795.6261 at our Augusta office to schedule a free consultation.
Are temporary, seasonal, and migrant farm workers eligible for workers’ compensation in Georgia if they are hurt on the job?
Temporary and seasonal workers are treated differently than migrant farm workers according to Georgia’s workers’ compensation laws. If you are a temporary, seasonal, or migrant farm worker, it is important to know what the law is, what you may be able to recover if you are hurt at work, and how to fight for your fair recovery.
Temporary and Seasonal Workers May be Covered by Workers’ Compensation
Workers’ compensation law requires most employers to carry workers’ compensation insurance for employees. The law does not distinguish between full time employees and part time employees, nor does it distinguish between those who are expected to work for the employer indefinitely and those who are hired on a seasonal or temporary basis.
Instead, all employees of businesses that are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance may qualify for workers’ compensation benefits if they are hurt on the job. A business is generally required to carry workers’ compensation if the business employs three or more people. These employees may be full time employees or part time employees.
Coverage for all employees—including temporary or seasonal workers—begins on their first day on the job. There is no waiting period, and lack of work experience is not a justification for denying workers’ compensation benefits.
Temporary workers should, however, know who employs them and, thus, who is required to provide them with workers’ comp benefits if they are hurt. If a worker is hired through a temporary agency, placed in a position by that agency, and paid by the agency, then the temporary agency may be the worker’s employer and the temporary agency may be responsible for providing the worker with workers’ compensation benefits. However, if the temporary worker is hired directly by a business or employer for a position that is temporary in nature, it is that business or employer who must provide workers’ compensation to the injured employee, assuming that the employer is required by law to do so and that the employee is eligible for such benefits.
Migrant Workers May Not Be Covered by Workers’ Compensation
While workers’ compensation covers most types of employees, the law specifically excludes employees in some industries. Georgia is one of about 16 states that currently does not require farm employers to carry workers’ compensation insurance for many of their farm workers. However, Georgia law does allow employers to purchase elective coverage for farm workers. If an employer has purchased this insurance voluntarily, then a migrant worker may be allowed to recover workers’ comp benefits if he is hurt on the job. Otherwise, a temporary or migrant farm worker may not be covered by this form of insurance.
When to Consult a Workers’ Compensation Attorney
While temporary and seasonal workers may have the same rights to workers’ compensation benefits as long-term employees, the road to recovery may be more difficult for them than it is for other employees. Certain facts concerning whether a worker is an employee or independent contractor and whether a worker is employed by an agency or a business directly may be raised and may be used to try to deny a worker benefits unless the worker knows his or her rights and is willing to fight for a fair and just recovery.
Accordingly, if you were hired to work at a summer camp, a retail establishment during the holidays, to cover the medical leave of another employee, or on another temporary or seasonal basis, you need to know your rights and you may need help advocating for the benefits that you deserve. Please read our FREE book, Understanding Georgia Workers’ Compensation, and please start a chat with us now to schedule your own free consultation with an experienced lawyer.
Your time to file a workers’ compensation claim is limited, so please do not delay taking action to protect your recovery and your future.
Why was I scheduled for an independent medical examination after I filed my workers’ compensation claim?
They say that things are rarely black or white, and the same could apply to workers’ compensation claims. Many people assume that their claim will either be immediately accepted or denied, but in reality, many cases need a bit more information before moving forward one way or another.
Independent medical exams, or IMEs, are usually scheduled when your workers’ compensation claim lies in a gray area. There could be questions, doubts, or conflicting reports about how you were injured, the treatment you are receiving, or your inability to return to work. These exams do not necessarily mean that your claim will be denied, but rather that the insurance company needs more information to proceed with your claim.
Clarify, Verify, Dispute: Why You Were Scheduled for an IME
When you receive notice of an IME, it is likely because your employer or your employer’s insurance company would like to clarify, verify, or dispute any number of things in your claim. This could include:
- The nature and extent of your injury
- How your injury occurred
- The severity and expected timeframe of your disability
- The course of treatment you were prescribed
- Your expected outlook and ability to return to work
- Your work restrictions or limitations
These examinations can have a powerful impact on your workers’ compensation case, as the doctor will provide a report to the insurer detailing their findings. It is important that you obtain a copy of this report in order to ensure that the information it includes is correct. If you find an error or disagree with the doctor, it is important that you consult an experienced workers’ compensation attorney immediately to take action—this report may be used to prevent you from receiving the compensation to which you may be entitled.
To discuss your IME appointment or results with a trusted, skilled workers’ compensation attorney, schedule your free consultation with attorney Chris Hudson today. He will fight to get you the compensation you deserve after your workplace injury. Call or click on the live chat link to get started now!
My son just started his summer job—is there anything I should do to make sure he’s safe at work?
School’s out for summer, and that means that teenagers everywhere are beginning summer jobs in order to pocket some spending money for summer fun. While earning money is at the front of their mind, for employers and parents, keeping these young workers safe requires some extra effort.
Teenagers in the Workplace Mean Increased Injury Risk
In any workplace, inexperienced workers lead to a higher risk of injury and accidents on the job—and teenaged summer employees are no exception. Unfortunately for these young workers, not only do they face increased risk, but they also are less aware of their rights as employees, leaving them vulnerable to missing out on compensation or protection that they may be owed.
Employers should be aware of the added risk teen workers face, and many are good about ensuring that teen workers receive proper training, supervision, and appropriate job tasks to keep risk minimized. Unfortunately, some employers neglect to take the necessary added precautions, leaving teen workers exposed to workplace injuries like falls.
As a parent, the best thing you can do to help keep your child safe at work is to keep lines of communication open. Ask your children about the work they do, as well as the training they have received to do their duties. If you—or your child—have concerns over safety issues or working conditions, encourage him to speak with a supervisor or even OSHA to address and fix concerns.
One of the most important conversations you can have with your working teen is about his rights as an employee, both every day and in the event of an on-the-job injury. If your child is injured at work and he or she is considered a regular employee, workers’ compensation may be available. Make sure that your child understands what to do if an injury occurs at work, but also make sure that he or she is aware of the right to speak up when a task or assignment does not feel safe.
Are your kids joining the workforce this summer? Share these important points with them to help them make sure their summer job is just as safe as it is fun!
What is the most important evidence I can provide to help my workers’ compensation case?
No two workers’ compensation cases are exactly alike. While many injured workers share a similar injury or accident, each injury claim requires careful investigation and consideration by employers and insurance carriers alike. Whether you hurt yourself lifting a box or were involved in a serious on-the-job car accident, you deserve compensation for your medical costs and lost wages that resulted from your injury.
When it Comes to Workers’ Compensation, All Evidence Is Not Considered Equal
No matter how your injury happened or what physical damage your injury entails, there is one kind of evidence that stands out above the rest in your fight to receive workers’ compensation: medical evidence.
From a serious traumatic injury to a debilitating repetitive stress injury (like carpal tunnel syndrome), your employer and the workers’ compensation insurance carrier are primarily concerned with the symptoms and prognosis your medical records contain. Your official medical records will be your go-to evidence to prove what happened, how it affected you, and how it will continue to affect you and your ability to work.
On top of your official records, it is also helpful to have your own records of your injury and recovery. Taking photos of your injuries and documenting your progress, pain, and challenges can add another level of context to your official records, and can also help you ensure that your doctor is officially documenting your symptoms, as well.
If You Are Experiencing Challenges in Your Workers’ Comp Claim, Call Attorney Chris Hudson Today!
If you have been hurt on the job, the last thing you need is to face additional obstacles as you pursue compensation for your injuries. If you have experienced a roadblock in your workers’ compensation journey, contact Augusta workers’ compensation attorney Chris Hudson today. You can reach our office by phone, or simply click on the live chat feature to be connected with a firm representative instantly!
How long after my injury will I receive my workers’ compensation benefits?
Suffering an injury at work can be a devastating experience, both physically and financially speaking. When you are unable to work, your income drops immediately and you are suddenly facing huge medical bills; fortunately, workers’ compensation insurance is meant to protect you in just this kind of event.
You can think of your workers’ compensation benefits as two separate benefits: medical benefits and financial benefits, known as wage loss benefits. Many injured workers are unsure of their rights when it comes to these benefits, including when they can expect to receive each kind. Fortunately, you do not need your claim to be processed and approved before seeking much-needed care.
Benefits Will Come Now…and Later
Your medical benefits begin the moment you are hurt. You have the right to seek medical treatment for your workplace injuries immediately, and even if your employer has not completed your workers’ compensation claim, your medical bills will be covered by your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier. This allows you to receive prompt care for your injury without the worry of waiting for the claim to process.
Your wage loss benefits, on the other hand, are dependent on your claim being approved. If your claim is initially denied, you may appeal the decision, but you will still be unable to collect this type of benefit until your claim is accepted by your employers’ workers’ compensation insurance. Approval is generally contingent on your treating physician’s assessment of your inability to work due to your injury.
Your first priority after an injury at work is to receive the medical care you need immediately. Your second priority is reporting your injury to your employer as soon as possible to ensure that your claim is filed promptly—that way, you can begin receiving your wage loss benefits and ensure that your medical benefits continue for the duration of your injury.
If you have questions about the workers’ compensation claims process, learn more by browsing through the collection of helpful articles on this site. If you are experiencing resistance from your employer or your employers’ insurance, contact Augusta workers’ compensation lawyer Chris Hudson to ensure that your rights are protected. Simply click on the live chat link or call us today at 706-863-6600 to be connected now.
I am almost ready to return to work after my on-the-job injury—is there anything I need to know to protect myself?
After a workplace injury, your sole focus is on recovering so you can once again return to work. You’ve powered through the doctor’s visits, physical therapy, and endless workers’ compensation paperwork and red tape. You are chomping at the bit to get back to work, but you do not want to risk another injury.
One of the most common challenges workers face after a workers’ compensation case is returning to work on limitations. Usually, there will be a point in your recovery where you may be able to return to work, but you might not be capable of performing your original job at 100% yet. This will usually result in your physician giving you the “go ahead” to return to work on light duty, or under certain limitations.
Whether you are returning to work at 100% or have been given limitations, there are a few very important things you need to do before returning to work that can help you prevent further injury and protect your rights.
Top 3 Things to Do Before Returning to Work After an On-the-Job Injury
While you are eager to return to the workforce after being laid up for a while, there are a few important things you must do to make sure you are protected—both physically and legally—upon your return:
- Ensure that your employer is aware of your current physical limitations, as well as a reasonable timeline for recovery. Make a plan for now and a plan for when you are fully healed. Make sure that you are both on the same page when it comes to your abilities and limits.
- Open a line of communication between your treating physician and your employer to ensure that everyone is onboard with your plan to return to work.
- Work closely with your workers’ compensation claim representative to ensure that you are able to receive any continued benefits you may be entitled to if you are returning to work on light duty or in a limited capacity.
Regardless of your current condition, your rights as an injured worker must be protected—even after you have begun healing. If you feel as though your employer is treating you unfairly after your workplace injury, we can help protect your rights—simply call our Augusta workers’ compensation law firm today, or click on the live chat link to speak with a representative now.
After years of computer use at work, I have developed carpal tunnel syndrome. Is it worth filing for workers’ compensation?
While you may have some preconceived notions about what a workers’ compensation injury looks like, you probably only have a narrow view. Most people envision a catastrophic accident—or at the very least, a slip-and-fall—that results in a serious injury, leading the victim to file for workers’ compensation benefits.
The very nature of workers’ compensation, however, is to protect employees who are injured in the scope of their work. Does this include injuries that may occur over time at work, such as carpal tunnel syndrome and other repetitive strain injuries? You bet.
What Is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, and How Can it Affect Your Ability to Work?
Our bodies are not meant to take the stress of repeated motions, and whether you are typing too feverishly or gripping a handle too tightly, years of the same daily stress can take its toll. Carpal tunnel syndrome is one of the most common repetitive strain injuries, and occurs when a major nerve running into your hand becomes pinched and compressed in your wrist.
Most people who begin to notice a tingling in their hands probably think nothing of it, and even when it develops into a more pointed burning sensation or total numbness, they may brush it off. They assume that their injury is something they developed naturally, and use their own insurance to cover treatment or physical therapy to alleviate their pain.
Carpal tunnel syndrome can progress to the point where you are unable to do your job, and if your carpal tunnel is a direct result of that job, you will be able to file a workers’ compensation claim to cover your medical costs and lost wages while you are recover. While you may not have been injured in a terrible accident, any injury that you receive at work—especially one that impacts your ability to continue working—deserves care and compensation.
Chris Hudson is an experienced workers’s compensation attorney who serves injured workers throughout Augusta, all of Georgia, and South Carolina. Learn more about workers’ compensation and repetitive strain injuries on the job today by exploring our article library and blog, or click on the live chat feature to be connected with us today!
I’ve been hurt at work, but I’m afraid I will lose my job if I take time off. Can I be fired for collecting workers’ compensation?
While the economy is slowly recovering, the job market remains at cutthroat levels of competition. It seems as though there are hundreds of people in line for your job behind you, and in reality, there may be.
When people are injured on the job, they may feel immense pressure to “tough it out” in the interest of keeping the job and career they worked so hard for. They may feel as though they will lose professional momentum, or even their position altogether, if they take all the time off their doctor ordered. Your employer may be dropping subtle—or not so subtle—hints that you should return to work as soon as possible. You sense that you have no choice.
Your Rights as an Injured Employee, and Your Employer’s Duty to You
After a workplace injury, you are entitled to certain rights. You are entitled to collect medical benefits and lost wage benefits, and more importantly, you are entitled to time off work to heal without employer harassment. Your employer cannot terminate you simply because you are collecting workers’ compensation benefits and are away from work per your doctor’s orders.
Collecting workers’ compensation benefits cannot prevent termination, however, if the cause is unrelated. If your workplace accident was the result of your intoxication, for example, your employer may be able to let you go based on your violation of company policy. If your position was slated for layoffs or included in downsizing, your presence at work would not affect that decision, and you can be terminated or let go regardless of your injury.
Do You Suspect You Were Terminated as a Direct Result of Your Workers’ Compensation Claim?
It can be difficult to decipher if your termination is directly related to your claim, but if you suspect that the two may be linked, workers’ compensation attorney Chris Hudson can help. To discuss your situation in a free, no-obligation consultation, connect with the firm today by phone or by live chat now.
I was hurt at work, but my workers’ compensation claim was denied. What should I do?
After your workplace accident, you probably thought that you were living your worst nightmare. Hurt and temporarily out of work while the bills piled up, you thought it could never get worse. When your compensation claim was denied, however, you realized very quickly that those feelings of dread could grow, and quickly.
It is not uncommon for those who have suffered an on-the-job injury to have their workers’ compensation claim initially denied. For some, it is an issue of how they were hurt that caused their claim to be given the ax, and for others it is simply a matter of incorrect information on their claim. In your case, we will assume that you were hurt in the scope of your employment, and that you followed the deadlines closely to ensure your own success.
As an injured worker in those circumstances, you are entitled to several rights, one of which is to appeal mistakes in your benefits or an outright denial. While it is legal to represent yourself when making this appeal, it is highly encouraged that you seek the counsel of an experienced workers’ compensation attorney who can help you meet all court requirements.
The first step in your appeal is to request a hearing with the State Board of Workers’ Compensation (SBWC). Once you are assigned a hearing date or judge, you may have to go through mediation. This allows you the opportunity to resolve your dispute against your employer or his insurance company in front of a neutral mediator. Hopefully, your attorney can help you reach a settlement at this level of appeal, which can help you obtain your benefits more quickly.
If you are unable to reach a settlement at this phase, you will proceed to your hearing. This stage is much more formal and trial-like. You will need to prove that you are entitled to your workers’ compensation benefits through witness testimony and hard evidence. Should you disagree with the judge’s decision, you have 20 days to appeal once again—this time, to the Appellate Division of the SBWC.
If your benefits have been denied, we strongly suggest you seek legal counsel immediately. When your health and finances are at stake, time is valuable, and a lawyer can help you get through the appeals process as efficiently as possible. Reach out to us today by phone or by filling out the short online contact form on this page, and connect with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney who cares.