Georgia's workers’ compensation laws specify which benefits (both services and monetary) are available to someone who is injured on the job. Unfortunately, you are not entitled to “pain and suffering” in a workers’ compensation case. Also, an administrative law judge determines your eligibility for benefits and the amount thereof, as opposed to a jury. In a typical workers’ comp claim, you are entitled to three main benefits:
- Medical benefits;
- Wage loss benefits, which are called temporary total disability benefits (TTD) or temporary partial disability benefits (TPD);
- And permanent partial disability benefits (PPD).
While settlement of workers’ compensation claims is completely voluntary, many people choose to settle their claims after reaching maximum medical improvement.
Medical Benefits Under Georgia Workers’ Compensation Law
One of the primary goals of the Workers’ Compensation Act (the Act) is to provide you the medical care needed to get you better and back to work. In this regard, if you are injured on the job, the employer must provide you with any necessary and reasonable medical treatment and medications. However, the treatment must be related to the on the job injury and prescribed by a physician who is “authorized.” Generally, your authorized treating physician must be selected from a “panel of physicians” that the employer is required to maintain on their premises in an accessible location.
Remember, The goal of many employers and their insurance companies is to get the employee back to work as quickly as possible without regard to the employee’s ongoing complaints. In this regard, employers will often send employees to physicians or occupational clinics listed on the panel that are “employer and insurance friendly,” which provide subpar care and send the employee back to work regardless of their ongoing complaints. It is very important to seek the advice of a skilled workers’ compensation attorney to determine whether the employer’s panel of physicians is valid. If the panel is not valid, then the employee is free to select a doctor of his or her choosing from the panel of physicians.
Temporary Total Disability (TTD)/Temporary Partial Disability Benefits (TPD)
If you have sustained a compensable injury and your authorized treating physician has taken you out of work, you may be entitled to loss wage benefits, which are referred to as temporary total disability (TTD). TTD does not necessarily mean that you are 100% physically unable to work. Rather, you must be prepared to show that you are either unable to return to your regular employment or unable to obtain employment in another occupation under the work restrictions you have been assigned by the authorized treating physician. Under the Georgia Workers’ Compensation Act, you are limited to 400 weeks of TTD benefits, unless your case is designated “catastrophic.”
Some injuries only cause a partial wage loss. If you are injured on the job but are able to return to work partially, then you would not be entitled to total wage loss benefits. Rather, you may be entitled to partial wage loss benefits, which are referred to as temporary partial disability benefits (TPD). The cap on TPD benefits is 350 weeks.
Permanent Partial Disability Benefits (PPD)
If you have sustained a degree of permanent disability due to your work injury, you may be entitled to permanent partial disability payments (PPD). PPD payments become due only if you have exhausted your 400 week temporary total disability benefits or 350 week temporary partial disability benefits or otherwise returned to work. Under the Workers’ Compensation Act, within 30 days after you are no longer receiving TTD or TPD benefits, the employer or insurer must request an “impairment rating” from your authorized treating physician. An impairment rating is simply the percentage of impairment you have to your body due to the work accident. Georgia follows a “schedule” that lists out the body parts and then states the number of weeks you would be entitled to if you sustained a total loss of that body part.
Have You Been Injured At Work?
If you've been injured on the job you need to speak with an experienced workers' compensation lawyer as soon as possible. Contact us online or call our Augusta office directly at 706.863.6600 to schedule your free consultation.