If you are hurt on the job, the one thing you should do right away is report your injury to your employer. Even if you doubt that you’ll ever submit a workers’ compensation claim, the wise thing to do is always to tell your supervisor that you’ve been injured so that your workplace injury is documented. And if you’re in doubt as to what your rights are under the law, it’s a good idea to consult workers’ compensation lawyers in Atlanta. At Affleck and Gordon, you can receive a free consultation and a no-cost case evaluation. You have nothing to lose by seeking professional advice, and everything to gain.
Take Care of Yourself and Your Family
If the incident in question turns out to be nothing, there’s no harm done, and your employer will be relieved that you’re ok. However, if an injury on the job turns out, in the fullness of time, to be something for which “walk it off” isn’t going to be a good enough response, you’ll be covered when you file a workers’ compensation claim. Always report a workplace injury to your supervisor right away. Take note of the date and time you let them know about the incident, and the name of the person you tell. It might be something you never think about again. But injuries -- even minor ones -- sometimes have a way of hiding their severity for weeks or months, especially in older workers.
Sometimes, Pride Cometh After the Fall
Failure to report a workplace injury in a timely manner will be a red flag to both your employer and the insurer, should you claim later on that the injury is causing you continued problems, and affecting your ability to continue working. Many of us are taught from childhood to be strong, not to whine about our maladies, and to drive on no matter what. We tend to say, “I’m fine,” and go about our duties. The thing is, you can report an injury, and still go about your business in a professional manner, recover, and never look back. That’s an admirable attitude.
However, Georgia has a 30-day window of time in which you must report a workplace injury for workers’ compensation. That means that if you wait more than a few weeks to report your injury, you will not be able to file for workers’ compensation to cover your medical expenses and lost wages that result from your injuries. So, don’t let pride get between you and taking care of business -- tell somebody if you get hurt, and tell them right away, even if you think it’s nothing.
Follow Up with a Doctor
If you’re hurt as a result of an accident of injury while on your job, ask your employer to authorize your seeing an approved workers’ compensation physician. A panel of doctors exists from which injured workers must select, and if a worker goes to his own primary care physician, workers’ compensation won’t pay those expenses. The authorized doctor may take you off the job or assign work restrictions, often referred to as “light duty.” But your employer won’t initiate lost wage benefits until they receive a disability statement from one of these authorized doctors. So, it’s important to see a doctor early on to get things moving in terms of your receiving lost wage benefits, because going any amount of time without getting paid isn’t going to be helpful at all.
What Happens If Your Doctor Places You on “Light Duty?”
If doctor’s orders include your taking a break from your regular duties at work, you might have some misgivings about what feels like abandoning your position at work. It might feel embarrassing, or seem like some sort of demotion to be put to work on tasks you consider beneath your seniority, your skill, or your dignity. But if the doctor recommends it, try the light duty job you’re offered by your employer. If your doctor places you on light duty, and your employer offers a suitable light duty job, it’s extremely important that you make a sincere effort to continue to work at the level your injuries allow. Not only that, it’s crucial that you stick it out through an entire work shift. An employee receiving lost wage benefits is given a 15-day trial work period. If that employee doesn’t, at the very least, work throughout an entire shift, then that employee’s lost wage benefits will not be reinstated while the employee awaits their workers’ compensation hearing.
In other words, if you don’t show that you gave your best effort to work through one entire shift, the employer and insurance company will have grounds to claim that you simply didn’t try.
They may take the stance that you aren’t serious about wanting to work, and they could claim that you’re simply working the system for benefits. So it’s crucial that you work the shift -- at least one entire light-duty shift -- even if the duty you’re assigned to isn’t something that feels worthy of your abilities.
What Does Workers’ Compensation Cover?
Talk to an attorney about your rights under workers’ compensation. Many people have a number of misconceptions about how it works, and an attorney can clear things up for you. Workers’ compensation pays for lost wages, medical expenses charged by authorized providers, and a permanent impairment rating, if one is granted to you. However, there is no reimbursement under workers’ compensation for pain and suffering, and in Georgia there is no protection from your being fired by your employer during the time period when you’re benefiting from workers’ compensation.
When You Don’t Need an Attorney
We’ve been focusing on all the reasons you should consult workers’ compensation lawyers in Atlanta, but if you’re trying to decide whether to seek legal counsel, you’ll be asking as well under what circumstances you don’t really need an attorney.
If the injuries you received at work are relatively minor, you should still report them right away. However, if you fully expect to return to work, in your same job, with your same employer after taking a few days or weeks to recover, and if you don’t see yourself permanently having lost any bodily function, you may not need to consider hiring workers’ compensation lawyers in Atlanta.
If you, say, suffered a clean break of your arm without any complications, the workers’ compensation insurer paid all the medical bills and benefits each week for the time you missed on the job, and your doctor has given you a green light to return to work with no limitations, you’re most likely good-to-go and don’t need to hire an attorney.
But, if you don’t feel that you have healed 100%, and/or if you can’t quite feel good about signing an insurance company settlement that requires you to give up on any future claims to compensation and medical care, your best bet is to arrange for a free consultation with the workers’ compensation lawyers in Atlanta at Affleck and Gordon. We’re specialists at workers’ compensation cases, and we’re standing by to help you get the benefits you deserve.
If you’ve been injured at work, or you’re thinking about filing for workers’ compensation and don’t know where to start, Affleck & Gordon can help. We’ve been helping people in Georgia just like you for over 40 years. Sign up for a free case evaluation here, or call us (404) 373-1649.