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Decatur Workers’ Compensation Lawyer
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Decatur Workers’ Compensation Lawyer

You’ve been hurt on the job; now what? The Decatur workers’ compensation attorneys at the O’Connell Law Firm are here to answer all your questions and help ensure that you are getting paid the right amount and receiving all the benefits you are entitled to. See below for important information regarding which employees are covered by workers’ compensation insurance, what benefits are available, how to report an injury, the claim filing process, and what to expect from an independent medical examination (IME). If you have other questions or need help with a workers’ compensation claim in Georgia, call the Decatur workers’ compensation lawyers at O’Connell Law Firm for a free, initial consultation at 404-410-0034.

Important Facts About Workers’ Compensation in Georgia

If you are a full or part-time employee and work for an employer with three or more employees, you are covered by your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance from day one on the job.

Apart from some specific exceptions in the Georgia Code, you must report a workplace accident or injury within 30 days or lose your right to benefits.

For an injury on the job, you are entitled to coverage of all related medical expenses. Since 2013, however, payment for medical treatment for non-catastrophic injuries stops after 400 weeks. In addition to medical benefits, when your doctor puts you on no-work status, you should receive applicable income benefits (TTD, TPD, PPD) of two-thirds of your average weekly wage up to the weekly maximum amount. TTD and TPD are payable for up to 400 weeks, while PPD payments are figured according to a schedule that determines the amount and number of weeks benefits are paid.

You can return to work on permanent partial disability (PPD) and still receive benefits.

Independent Medical Exams Can Work Against You

In Georgia, your employer and their workers’ comp insurance carrier have some control over the doctor you go to. When you report an injury, your employer provides you with a list of doctors you can see, and you have to choose your doctor from that list. After examining you, that doctor could say your condition is unrelated to a workplace accident or injury. In that case, you have the right to request an independent medical examination by a doctor whom you designate, with the exam paid by the employer.

On the other hand, your employer also has the right to request an independent medical examination (IME). As part of the workers’ comp process, you can be required to submit to an exam by someone other than your treating physician. This IME doctor reviews records of previous treatment, takes a thorough patient history, and conducts an examination. The purpose of this exam is not to treat you, and you don’t have any doctor-patient relationship with this physician. Rather, the purpose of the IME is to find that you are not really injured or that your injury is less serious than you claim. If you are already receiving workers’ comp benefits, the IME doctor can say that you are recovered and not entitled to any more benefits. The IME doctor can even disagree with the doctor who is treating you.

Your Employer Can Deny Your Claim for Workers’ Compensation Benefits

Besides an IME doctor disputing your injury, your employer and their insurer might find other reasons to deny your claim. Some of these reasons include:

  • Your injury is false or exaggerated
  • Your injury is the result of willful misconduct
  • You intentionally caused the injury
  • The injury is not work-related
  • You did not notify your employer or file your claim completely or timely
  • You were not using provided safety gear or violated a workplace safety rule
  • You were intoxicated at the time of the accident
  • You are exempt from workers’ compensation, such as having status as an independent contractor rather than an employee

While you only have 30 days to report the injury to your employer, you have up to one year from the accident to file a claim for benefits. If your claim is denied, you can request a hearing with the State Board of Workers’ Compensation. An Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) will conduct a hearing to determine whether benefits should be paid. If unfavorable, you can appeal this decision to the Board’s Appellate Division, where a three-member panel will consider briefs submitted by both parties or hear oral arguments in appropriate cases. You can also appeal the Appellate Division’s decision to Superior Court.

Workers’ compensation attorneys from the O’Connell Law Firm can represent you at all of these hearings and appeals. We work to protect your rights and get you benefits at the earliest possible stage.

Help With Workers’ Compensation Claims in Decatur

If you need help filing for benefits, appealing a denial, or settling your claim after a workplace injury in Georgia, call the Decatur workers’ compensation lawyers at the O’Connell Law Firm at 404-410-0034.

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