You’ve been hurt on the job. While the physical pain and fear about the future may be overwhelming, the steps you take now can have a significant impact on your recovery. Specifically—as soon as possible after the accident—it is important to provide notice to your employer, get medical attention, and to talk with a workers’ compensation attorney.
Telling Your Employer About the Accident: Giving Notice
If you are pursuing a recovery pursuant to Georgia or South Carolina workers’ compensation laws, you have a duty to give your employer notice of your injury.
In Georgia You Have 30 Days to Report the Accident
In Georgia, you must give notice "immediately on the occurrence of any accident or as soon thereafter as practicable," but in no event later than "thirty days after the occurrence of an accident or within thirty days after death resulting from an accident." Georgia law does not require that the notice be made in writing. However, if it is in writing, it must include your name, your address, the time, place, nature and cause of the accident, and it must be signed by you. Written notice must be mailed by overnight or certified mail or given personally to your employer.
While it is your responsibility to give notice, Georgia law does not require that you be the one who makes the report. The law allows you to have a representative do it for you. However, if you or your representative fails to provide notice within the required time frame, you may be unable to recover any workers’ compensation benefits.
There are some exceptions to the notice requirement in Georgia. Specifically, the notice requirement may be extended or waived if:
- You have a physical or mental incapacity that prevents you from making notice or having someone do it on your behalf.
- You are prevented from giving notice because of fraud or deceit.
- Your employer already knew of your injury.
- You have a reasonable excuse for the delay and your employer has not suffered because of your failure to give notice.
South Carolina Provides You 90 Days to Give Notice
In South Carolina, you generally have 90 days to give notice of the accident and your resulting injury to your employer. The 90 days may be extended if you have a reasonable excuse for failing to provide notice within the required timeframe and your employer was not hurt by your delay.
In both states, you also have a limited amount of time to file with the state board of workers’ compensation. However, the claim does not need to be made immediately after your injury.
Get Immediate Medical Care
The most important thing you can do after a workplace injury is to get medical care. It may be critical to your current condition and future well-being. However, since you were hurt at work, you will need to get medical care in accordance with your state workers’ compensation rules.
If you suffer a life threatening or serious injury at work, you should seek emergency medical care at the nearest facility—just as you would after any other type of accident. After the emergency medical care, or instead of the emergency medical care if appropriate, you will need to get medical treatment from a physician who is approved by your employer to treat employees who are injured at work or who become ill because of their work.
In Georgia, employers are required to provide workers with at least six doctors by clearly posting the list of physicians in the workplace. It is your right to see any doctor on the list. You may change doctors once—to another doctor on the list—if you are unsatisfied with the care that you are receiving. If you wish to change doctors after that, you will need to get prior approval from your employer or workers’ compensation administrator.
South Carolina has similar rules. In South Carolina, you also need to get medical treatment from a health care provider who has been approved or authorized by your employer. If you would like a second opinion, you may request that of the insurer or you may file for a hearing.
In order to be reimbursed for your medical bills and to have future medical bills covered by workers’ compensation, you must follow state laws. Of course, it is also important that you work with a doctor whom you trust so you can be confident that you are getting the medical care you need. Thus, you shouldn’t hesitate to speak up and to request another medical opinion if you have any questions about your injury, your care, or your recovery.
Talk to a Georgia or South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Lawyer
As you soon as you are hurt, others are going to be working to: (1) minimize your recovery; and (2) get you back to work as soon as possible. While you likely want to feel better, to get back to work, and to get back to your regular activities, you don’t want to do anything that would jeopardize your future health. Accordingly, it is important to follow the prescribed treatment plan of a trusted doctor and to talk to a workers’ compensation lawyer about your rights.
You don’t have to wait to make the call. As soon as you are physically able to contact a worker’s compensation lawyer after your accident injury, you can set up a free consultation. From your first meeting, an attorney can advise you on how to avoid making mistakes with your workers’ compensation claim and an attorney can help take away the stress of making a claim. More specifically, a workers’ compensation lawyer can:
- Help you provide the right notice to your employer.
- Help you get the medical care you need in a way that will be covered by workers’ compensation insurance.
- Determine whether you may also have a third party claim against someone other than your employer.
- Answer your specific questions and address your unique concerns.
You do not have to handle your claim on your own or risk receiving less than fair compensation for your injury or illness. Instead, please start a live chat with us today and learn more about your rights and fair recovery. You can also learn more about your rights by downloading a FREE copy of our book, Understanding Georgia Workers’ Compensation.