The Georgia State Board of Workers' Compensation (the Board) oversees all matters related to workers' compensation injury claims in the state. Every year, the Board publishes new or updated regulations and guidelines for employees and employers who fall under the rules of coverage.
This blog post answers some of the most frequent questions workers and employers have when facing a workers' compensation claim.
Issues related to returning to work
Q: Can a doctor order an injured worker back to work and what happens if the worker refuses?
A: If the attending doctor signs off that the worker has obtained maximum medical recovery, the worker must make an attempt to return to work, even at reduced pay. However, a return to work order may be appealed in the event the injury or disability does not allow for adequate performance of the job tasks or the worker feels returning to work may result in further injury.
Q: Can an injured employee seek reimbursement for expenses related to the injury?
A: Yes, as long as the expense, such as mileage, hotel, meals, etc. can be directly attributable to the medical treatment for the workplace injury, the employee may claim reimbursement within one year of the date of the expense.
Extent of coverage
Q: Is the worker covered if the accident occurs while traveling to a job site?
A: Workers' compensation does not cover employees injured during their normal commute to their usual reporting location. If an employee is sent on the road (to deliver or pick up equipment, etc.) and is injured en route, workers' compensation coverage may be extended.
Q: What if an employer claims the accident was because of negligence, horseplay or misconduct?
A: No benefits will be extended if the injury (or death) was the result of an employee's willful misconduct or negligence. The operative word is "willful" and employers frequently try to blame the injured worker in order to deny a claim. It is important to note that injuries resulting from an employee working under pressure of time contraints, insufficient training or lack of proper supervision should be covered.
Q: Who handles the investigation of the accident?
A: Your employer and/or your employer's workers' compensation provider will be responsible for investigating the accident. Many injured workers choose to hire an attorney to ensure they have representation while the investigation is underway.
Q: Can an injured employee settle for additional compensation from their employer, in addition to workers' compensation?
A: No. Filing for workers' compensation means the injured employee forfeits the right to sue the employer for additional damages, except under unusual circumstances. Injured workers may, however, file a third-party lawsuit against other parties held liable for causing the accident and injuries, such as a product manufacturer, property owner or another worker on site.
Before you file, get all of your questions answered
If you suffered an injury on the job in Georgia, you owe it to yourself to get your questions answered before you file your claim. Take the time to call an experienced Georgia workers' compensation lawyer. Most offer a free consultation and handle claims on a contingency-fee basis.