Atlanta Work Injury Lawyers – Free Case Evaluation
At Dan Chapman & Associates, LLC, we are proud legal advocates for injured workers in Athens, Georgia. We believe in standing up for the rights of workers who suffer on-the-job injuries, especially when these injuries are caused by a lack of care (negligence) on the part of an employer or another party. If you or a loved one recently suffered a work injury in Georgia, find out how our Atlanta personal injury attorneys can help you get back on your feet. Request a free case consultation with a local Athens work injury lawyer today by calling (678) 242-7626.
Why You Need an Atlanta Work Injury Attorney
Hiring an attorney can make you confident that you will not be taken advantage of by your employer or an insurance provider when you are at your most vulnerable. While these parties may wish to downplay your work injury and devalue your claim, your lawyer will do the opposite. You can trust your lawyer to do everything possible to maximize the outcome of your claim, as well as to make sure that you have everything else you need to recover. No matter what type of injury or illness you suffered, your Atlanta accident lawyer will work tirelessly to achieve a fair resolution on your behalf.
Some industries and workplaces may be more dangerous than others, but a worker can suffer a serious injury in virtually any work environment. Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that in 2020, 193 workers tragically lost their lives and thousands of others were seriously injured while working in Georgia. The most commonly reported work accidents were:
- Transportation incidents
- Contact with objects and equipment
- Slip and fall accidents
- Violence and injuries by persons and animals
- Exposure to harmful substances or environments
- Struck-by objects
- Caught in running equipment or machinery
What Causes the Most On-the-Job Injuries in Georgia?
Insurance companies are almost always involved in the claims process when car accidents occur. Unfortunately, insurance companies are typically difficult to deal with, and they rarely offer injured parties full and fair compensation for their losses. Insurance adjusters use standard tactics to negotiate lowball settlements, and those who accept settlement offers without legal representation are often left under-compensated for their losses.
When you have legal representation, your attorney will take care of all insurance company communications. Your attorney will also ensure that your injuries and damages are accurately calculated, including past, ongoing, and future losses, before you accept an insurance settlement offer. For example, if your injuries will require future medical care and treatment, your compensation should cover the accident-related medical bills that you expect to acquire in the future.
Experienced attorneys know how to negotiate with insurance company representatives effectively, and their job is to ensure that any settlement you accept will fairly compensate you for your losses. Typically, you will recover more compensation when you have legal representation than you would when negotiating with an insurance company on your own.
Workplace accidents can result in life-changing injuries, including broken bones, soft-tissue injuries, burn injuries, brain injuries, amputations, and spinal cord injuries. Even if a worker only suffers minor injuries, they can be painful and costly. Furthermore, if there was a death at work in Athens under any circumstances, you may be entitled to financial compensation from one or more outlets. Contact an Atlanta wrongful death attorney to learn more.
Injuries Covered by Workers’ Compensation
If you are hurt at your job or developed an occupational disease, you have the right to file a workers’ compensation claim and recover benefits for medical care, disability, and more. You are eligible for a claim if you suffer any type of work-related injury, including those that happen off the job site if it is related to your work. However, there are some exceptions.
EXAMPLES OF INJURIES THAT ARE ELIGIBLE FOR WORKERS’ COMP
Any physical injury that happens at work, or as a result of your work-related activities, is typically covered by Georgia workers’ compensation. If you are driving a work vehicle or are on a company trip, there is likely workers’ compensation coverage for your injuries. This is true even if you were the cause of the injury. These injuries can affect any part of the body, including your head, brain, neck, back, nerves, and bones. Take a car wreck for example, if you were the cause of the crash, you can still recover under workers’ compensation for your injuries. If another person was the cause of the crash, you will have a workers’ compensation claim and an additional claim against the at-fault driver. If you are involved in any type of accident at work, it is critical to seek medical care as soon as possible to avoid any dangerous complications.
Below are some of the most common types of workplace injuries:
- Eye injuries, including blindness
- Amputated or mangled limbs
- Spinal cord injuries and paralysis
- Burn injuries and scarring
- Electrocutions and electrical injuries
- Cuts, lacerations, and bruises
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Back problems, such as slipped discs
In addition to physical injuries, you can also file a workers’ compensation claim for any occupational diseases that you develop as a result of your job. For example, say that you are repeatedly exposed to toxic chemicals without proper protective equipment and are later diagnosed with a respiratory illness. You can file a claim for workers’ compensation benefits since you wouldn’t have been diagnosed with this illness if not for your job.
Some occupational diseases can be difficult to link to your job. Your experienced attorney at Dan Chapman & Associates can help you gather the evidence that you need to show that the occupational disease happened as a result of your workplace accident.
EXAMPLES OF INJURIES THAT ARE NOT ELIGIBLE FOR WORKERS’ COMP
As long as you sustained your injury while performing your work duties, you are likely eligible for workers’ compensation. However, there are certain situations where your claim may be reduced or denied altogether.
- You were provided with safety devices but failed to use them.
- You were not following safety rules set by your workplace.
- You were under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of the accident.
- You suffered an injury while engaging in a personal fight that was not related to your job duties.
- You suffered injuries while engaging in horseplay or as a result of a prank or joke unless you were a victim in the situation.
- You intentionally injured yourself in order to receive benefits or misrepresented your injuries.
In some cases, your injury is eligible for workers’ comp benefits, but your employer or insurance company claims that your case involved one of the above circumstances. If this situation arises, you need an experienced attorney on your side who can defend you against these accusations and who can prove your right to financial compensation.
How Do Pre-Existing Injuries Affect a Workers’ Comp Claim?
Millions of Americans live with pre-existing conditions, and a workplace injury can aggravate these injuries or illnesses. If you were hurt or sick before your accident, you may wonder if this condition could affect your eligibility. Thankfully, this is not the case. As long as you are disabled as a result of your aggravated pre-existing injury, Georgia law allows you to file a workers’ comp claim and recover benefits. In this situation, you may receive compensation until your condition returns to the state that it was prior to your workplace accident.
For example, say that you suffered knee problems for several years. Your job involves a lot of heavy lifting, and your work duties aggravate your condition to the point where you require corrective knee surgery. In this situation, workers’ compensation should pay for your treatment and surgery until your knee problems return to their pre-aggravated state.
How to File a Workers’ Compensation Claim in Georgia
In Georgia, filing a workers’ compensation claim is a relatively straightforward process. There are, however, a number of rules, requirements, and deadlines to follow. Additionally, employers and insurance companies can treat injured workers unfairly and fight against otherwise valid claims.
DO NOT TAKE ON THE INSURANCE COMPANY ON YOUR OWN
Having an experienced workers’ compensation attorney on your side is a must in a workers’ compensation case. There are too many ways you be taken advantage of to do this on your own. The system is not employee friendly and we can help you navigate this process and craft a compelling case for your right to recover benefits. To initiate your claim, take the following steps as soon as possible after your accident.
STEP 1: SEEK MEDICAL TREATMENT
First, you should seek medical care as soon as possible following your accident. If you suffer a medical emergency, you can seek treatment from any emergency doctor. Otherwise, you will need to seek medical care from a doctor who is on a list of approved physicians maintained by your employer. The list of doctors are all doctors who were chosen by the insurance company. They are on the list because they will hold down treatment and costs for the insurance company. They will not treat you the same as someone who just came in for treatment unrelated to work.
Your employer must have at least six doctors on this list, including at least one orthopedic surgeon. Get a copy of the list. Choosing the right doctor is crucial. Some doctors on these lists have bad reputations when it comes to treating injured workers fairly. If the list is defective, that opens the door to get you to a doctor who is not on the list and who will not be biased for the insurance company paying the bills.
You have the right to change physicians once. Any subsequent changes will require your employer’s authorization. Therefore, it is important to have the input of an experienced lawyer before choosing the first doctor and any subsequent doctor. Save all medical records and documentation related to your workplace injury; these records will be very important evidence in your case.
STEP 2: REPORT YOUR INJURY TO YOUR EMPLOYER
Next, you will need to notify your employer of your injury as soon as possible. According to Georgia laws, your employer should know about your accident or illness within 30 days. if you wait any longer, your claim may be denied as untimely. To protect your right to benefits, speak to your supervisor or manager immediately after you are injured and be sure they document it.
STEP 3: COMPLETE THE REQUIRED FORM
The next step in a workers’ comp claim is to file a completed Form WC-14 with the Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation. You will also need to submit a copy to your employer and your workers’ compensation insurance carrier. You should not do this on your own. There are many ways to mess this up. Your experienced attorney at Dan Chapman & Associates can help you complete this form and submit it to the required parties.
STEP 4: WAIT FOR THE INSURANCE COMPANY’S DECISION
The insurance company must review your application and investigate your workplace injury within 21 days of receiving your claim. The insurance carrier will determine whether you are eligible for benefits. If your claim is successful, you will also learn how much compensation you are entitled to receive.
If the insurance company denies your workers’ compensation claim, you have the right to file an appeal. You can request a hearing with the State Board of Workers’ Compensation, which will be very similar to a court trial. An administrative judge will oversee the hearing and issue a decision regarding any of the issues involved in your case. If you disagree with the administrative judge’s ruling, you could request another appeal within 20 days from the date of the decision and appeal to the Superior Court.
Georgia Workers’ Compensation FAQs
All 50 states have some version of the workers’ compensation program. This program was enacted to provide employees with financial compensation to cover their injuries and related losses if the injuries were caused out of the scope and course of employment. Learn more about Georgia’s workers’ comp program here:
- How does workers’ compensation work in Georgia? To qualify for workers’ comp benefits in Georgia, you don’t have to show that anyone was negligent or caused your injury. If your employer has workers’ comp insurance, you can file a no-fault claim.
- Who is eligible for workers’ comp in Georgia? In Georgia, any employer with three or more workers must carry workers’ comp insurance. This insurance covers almost all occupational injuries and illnesses, as long as they are not caused by the employee’s recklessness or horseplay.
- How soon do I have to report a work injury in Georgia? You must report a workplace accident, injury or illness within no more than 30 days. If you miss this deadline, you may no longer be eligible for workers’ comp coverage.
Once you report your work injury, your employer will fill out and file the necessary paperwork to start your workers’ comp claim. It is important, however, not to accept an insurance settlement or sign anything sent to you by an insurance company for a work injury before you consult with an attorney. You may have financial recovery rights outside of the workers’ comp system.
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