Will I Get A Weekly Disability Check From Workers’ Compensation?
If you are hurt on the job in Georgia, you may be entitled to a weekly disability check from your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance company.
However, before you qualify for any kind of workers’ compensation income benefit, you must first treat with a doctor that is authorized by the employer and the workers’ compensation insurer. When you go to see this authorized doctor he or she will give you something called a “work status note.” Typically, this work status note will say one of three things. First, the doctor could say that you are “totally disabled” from work. This means that you cannot return to the jobsite and must stay home to rest and recover. Alternatively, the workers’ comp doctor could release you to “full duty” work. This means that the doctor thinks you have no restrictions or limitations on the type of work that you can do, and that you can return to work immediately to continue working your regular job duties. However, the doctor also has a third option besides total disability and full duty; the doctor can also choose to say that you can return to work but that you should be limited to “light duty” or “modified duty” work. If the doctor says that you can return to light duty work, he should then specify more details about just what type of light duty work it is safe for you to perform. Typically, these restrictions on your work activity indicate how much weight you can safely lift, or how much time you should spend sitting or standing while back on the job.
Once you have received work restrictions from an authorized doctor, you can then determine whether or not you are entitled to workers’ compensation income benefits. If the doctor says that you are totally disabled from work, you are clearly entitled to weekly workers’ compensation checks. Conversely, if the doctor says that you can return to your regular duty or full duty job, you are not entitled to workers’ compensation income benefits. In fact, if you are released to full duty and you do not go back to work, it is likely that your employer will fire you.
If the doctor says that you can work “light duty” or “modified duty” the determination of whether or not you are entitled to workers’ comp income benefits will depend on your employer. Some employers will say that they do not have any type of light duty work and they will not allow you to come back to the jobsite until you have been fully released by the doctor. In this scenario, you are entitled to workers’ compensation income benefits because even though you are “light duty,” your injuries have still prevented you from working and earning a living. However, there are other employers who will bend over backwards to find a light duty position for you, even if the job is nothing more than folding towels or sitting at the front of a building greeting people who enter. In that case, you are typically not entitled to workers’ comp checks as the employer is able to “accommodate” your restrictions.
Of course, whether or not the employer actually has suitable light duty work available and whether they are actually accommodating your restrictions is often complicated. Sometimes an employer will tell you to come back to work promising a light duty job, only to ask you to perform work that is outside of your restrictions once you return. Also, even if you are back at work performing light duty work, an employer could suddenly start writing you up for tiny infractions and try to fire you on a pretext. They can then try to argue that even though you have lost your income you are not entitled to workers’ compensation checks because the reason for your firing was not related to your work injury or to your restrictions. In this scenario, the burden falls on you to prove that your employer fired you for reasons related to your injury and that you are entitled to workers’ comp income benefits.
If you have suffered a work injury and believe that you are entitled to workers’ compensation income benefits, you can call the O’Connell Law Firm today at 404-410-0034 to discuss your situation.