Georgia Injured Workers’ Bill of Rights
Every worker in Georgia has a list of rights that protects you if you are injured on the job. In fact, Georgia law requires that the State Board of Workers’ Compensation publish a list of these injured workers’ rights, benefits, and obligations under state law. Unfortunately, many workers are unaware of their rights under the law and don’t know how to pursue them. Below is a list of the rights that injured workers have in Georgia:
1. If you are injured on the job, you may receive medical rehabilitation and income benefits. These benefits are provided to help you return to work. Your dependents may also receive benefits if you die as a result of a job-related injury.
2. Your employer is required to post a list of at least six doctors or the name of the certified WC/MCO that provides medical care, unless the Board has granted an exception. You may choose a doctor from the list and make one change to another doctor on the list without the permission of your employer. However, in an emergency, you may get temporary medical care from any doctor until the emergency is over, then you must get treatment from a doctor on the posted list.
3. Your authorized doctor bills, hospital bills, rehabilitation in some cases, physical therapy, prescriptions, and necessary travel expenses will be paid if injury was caused by an accident on the job. All injuries occurring on or before June 30, 2013 shall be entitled to lifetime medical benefits. If your accident occurred on or after July 1, 2013 medical treatment shall be limited to a maximum of 400 weeks from the accident date. If your injury is catastrophic In nature you may be entitled to lifetime medical benefits.
4. You are entitled to weekly income benefits if you have more than seven days of lost time due to an injury. Your first check should be mailed to you within 21 days after the first day you missed work. If you are out more than 21 consecutive days due to your injury, you will be paid for the first week.
5. Accidents are classified as being either catastrophic or noncatastrophic. Catastrophic injuries are those involving amputations, severe paralysis, severe head injuries, severe bums, blindness, or of a nature and severity that prevents the employee from being able to perform his or her prior work and any work available in substantial numbers within the national economy. In catastrophic cases, you are entitled to receive two-thirds of your average weekly wage but not more than $675 per week for a job-related injury for as long as you are unable to return to work. You also are entitled to receive medical and vocational rehabilitation benefits to help in recovering from your injury.
6. In all other cases (non-catastrophic), you are entitled to receive two-thirds of your average weekly wage but not more than $675 per week for a job related injury. You will receive these weekly benefits as long as you are totally disabled, but no longer than 400 weeks. If you are not working and it is determined that you have been capable of performing work with restrictions for 52 consecutive weeks or 78 aggregate weeks, your weekly income benefits will be reduced to two thirds of your average weekly wage but no more than $450 per week, not to exceed 350 weeks.
7. When you are able to return to work, but can only get a lower paying job as a result of your injury, you are entitled to a weekly benefit of not more than $450 per week for no longer than 350 weeks.
8. Your dependent(s), in the event you die as a result of an on the-job accident, will receive burial expenses up to $7,500 and two-thirds of your average weekly wage, but not more than $675 per week. A widowed spouse with no children will be paid a maximum of $270,000. Benefits continue until he/she remarries or openly cohabits with a person of the opposite sex.
9. If you do not receive benefits when due, the insurance carrier/employer must pay a penalty, which will be added to your payments.
If you have any questions regarding these benefits please call the O’Connell Law Firm at 404-410-0034.