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Injured Worker Rights – Know Your Options

1. If I am injured at work can I see my private doctor? 

If you are injured at work and the insurer accepts the claim as “compensable” you will need to pick a doctor from the Panel of Physicians that the employer is supposed to have posted in a conspicuous location as well as take reasonable steps to understand what it means.

2. What is this Panel of Physicians you keep talking about? 

A Panel of Physicians is a list of at least 6 doctors that your employer must have posted in a conspicuous location. Your employer must also explain to you the purpose of the Panel of Physicians. The panel must include at least six (6) physicians or professional associations. It must also include at least one orthopedic surgeon, a minority physician and four other properly qualified physicians. The Panel can have no more than two (2) industrial clinics.

If your employer has a valid, posted Panel of Physician and it is explained to you, you will need to select a doctor from the Panel. If your employer does not have a Panel or does not explain it to you, you may be able to treat with a doctor of your choice.

3. Can I get paid for pain and suffering in workers’ comp?

Unfortunately no, there is no compensation for pain and suffering in workers’ compensation.  The number of benefits is set by statute and very few cases are “million dollars” cases.  You would have to suffer a severe, catastrophic injury for that type of settlement…you don’t want that type of injury!

4. My employer is jerking me around after I got hurt. Should I just quit?

NO! If this happens, contact your attorney but do not immediately quit. The insurance company will use this as evidence that you are unwilling to work.

5. Can’t I just go see my own doctor and bill it to my private health insurance? 

Please do not do this. This will greatly complicate your claim and may preclude settlement of your case down the road.

6. Can I get unemployment and workers’ compensation benefits at the same time?

You may be able to, however, the insurance company is entitled to take a “credit” for the amount of the unemployment benefits paid during the same period.

7. My Employer is offering me a light duty job, but I’m not sure I can do it.  What should I do? 

This is a very complicated area but, in short, you should give your best effort to try the job. If you are receiving weekly indemnity payments and the employer offers you a light duty job, certain requirements must be met. Further, if you do not attempt the job or do not complete 8 hours of the light duty job or one workday (whichever is longer), your benefits may be suspended. If you refuse to even attempt it the insurance company will use this as evidence that you are being unreasonable and do not want to return to work. For more information on this, see the section “Your Work Status.”

8. What does compensable and controverted mean?

When you are injured at work, your employer/insurer can either choose to accept the claim as “compensable” or they can deny or “controvert” it. They may choose to pay medical benefits only and then refuse to pay weekly income benefits. They may also choose to controvert or deny the claim completely. If you are not receiving medical treatment or income benefits, you need to contact an attorney.

9. I got a notice of hearing in the mail. Then I found out it got canceled. What’s the deal with this?

If there are issues in dispute between the injured worker and the insurance company, what generally happens is the injured worker’s attorney files a form called a WC-14 Request for Hearing form.  This places the matter “on the calendar.”  In other words, you get a date for your hearing, which is a court proceeding before the Administrative Law Judge. That is also the point when formal discovery takes place and the insurance company will likely depose you. Once they depose you they will want to get medical records from your doctors and likely talk to witnesses. This takes some time. Unfortunately, because it takes time to get all the information together,  hearings frequently get “continued” to new dates. It may take several months to actually have the hearing. In lieu of proceeding to a hearing, the parties will frequently try to informally resolve the matter or the entire case.

10. I got hurt at work and then my employer fired me! Can they do that?

Unfortunately, this is not uncommon. Georgia is an “at will” state and, without an employment contract, a worker can be terminated “at will” as long as the reason is not discriminatory.

If you have questions about PPD Rating, read this post on how to calculate your PPD. 

If you have questions about settlements, read about workers’ compensation settlements. 

Common Work Injuries

  • Overuse and Repetition – An overuse or repetitive injury develops when a repetitive task or activity is completed at work.
  • Assaulted on the Job – An assault on the job can cause an injury which can be work-related.
  • Falling Down or Slipping & Falling –  In many cases, floors can be hazardous and lead to injuries related to some type of work-related fall.
  • Being Struck by an Object – Objects often fall from high locations such as shelves or roofs that can injure workers upon impact.
  • Machine Related Accidents – A machine-related injury is commonly caused by some type of machinery catching or crushing body and limb of the operator.

Contact Beth Gearhart

If you are injured and need legal advice, please contact, Beth Gearhart at (404) 445-8370.  Beth is Georgia’s best workers’ compensation attorney.  She will fight for your rights and help get the largest possible settlement.

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