Seeking Benefits After a Work-Related Injury or Illness
When you are hurt on the job or diagnosed with a work-related injury or illness, you can find yourself facing a number of unexpected challenges. From expensive medical bills to lost wages, a workplace injury can significantly impact your life.
The workers’ compensation system was specifically created to help employees who are forced to take time off work for job-related injuries, illnesses, and medical conditions. By filing a workers’ compensation claim, you can seek certain benefits that can help you manage your expenses while you recover from your injuries or learn to navigate a new disability.
However, the process of filing a workers’ compensation claim can be confusing, difficult, and time-consuming. This is especially true if your employer or their insurance company disputes or denies your claim. It is important that you work with a skilled workers’ compensation lawyer who can help you avoid mistakes that could jeopardize your claim and who can protect your rights throughout the process.
Who Qualifies for Workers’ Compensation?
Each state has its own set of laws governing workers’ compensation. As such, the eligibility requirements will differ slightly depending on where you live.
However, in general, you are entitled to workers’ compensation if you:
- Suffer an injury or illness related to your employment
- Did not negligently or intentionally inflict the injury on yourself
- Are classified as an “employee” (rather than an “independent contractor”)
- Work for a covered employer
In Georgia, covered employers include those with at least three employees; in Tennessee, this includes employers with five or more employees. However, in certain industries, such as construction or mining, employers may be required to provide workers’ compensation for their employees even if they have fewer than the standard amount. Additionally, both part-time and full-time employees are eligible for workers’ compensation.
What Workers’ Compensation Benefits Are Available?
The benefits you may be entitled to receive through the workers’ compensation system depend on several factors, including the state in which you live and the severity of your work-related injury or illness.
Both Georgia and Tennessee offer the following workers’ compensation benefits:
- Medical Care: This includes costs associated with treating a work-related injury or illness, such as hospitalization, diagnostic tests, surgeries, treatments, rehabilitation, medications, medical equipment, etc.
- Temporary Disability: Temporary total disability (TTD) benefits are available to employees who are unable to return to work temporarily due to a work-related injury or illness. These benefits are based on a certain percentage of the worker’s average pay.
- Permanent Disability: Permanent partial disability (PPD) and/or permanent total disability (PTD) benefits are available to those who are partially or totally impaired due to a work-related injury or illness after reaching “maximum medical improvement” (MMI), as determined by a doctor.
- Death Benefits: When an employee dies in a workplace accident or due to a work-related injury or illness, their surviving dependents may be entitled to death benefits through the workers’ compensation system. These typically include wage replacement and funeral costs.
- Vocational Rehabilitation: Some injured employees may be eligible for vocational rehabilitation benefits. These may include certain costs associated with finding new employment/returning to the workforce, such as job retraining, education-related expenses, and more.
To learn more about the types of benefits you may be entitled to under workers’ compensation, reach out to The Roth Firm, LLC today. Our workers’ compensation lawyers are here to answer your questions and provide the guidance you need to move forward with your claim.
What to Do After a Workplace Accident
If you are injured on the job—or are diagnosed with a work-related injury or illness—there are several important steps you should take to protect your health, safety, and rights.
After a workplace accident or job-related injury, be sure to do the following:
- Seek Medical Attention: The first thing you should do is seek appropriate medical attention. If necessary, call 911. While you may need to visit a doctor of your employer’s choosing at the start of your treatment, this does not apply when it comes to initial emergency care. Your health and safety are the most important things; do not wait to see a doctor if you are injured at work or suffer a job-related illness or medical condition.
- Report the Injury to Your Employer: By law, you must report work-related injuries and illnesses to your employer within a certain timeframe. In Georgia, you have 30 calendar days from the date of the injury (or the date of the injury/illness was discovered/diagnosed) to notify your employer; in Tennessee, you only have 15 calendar days to report the injury. If you fail to notify your employer of your condition, you could lose your right to workers’ compensation.
- File Your Workers’ Compensation Claim: Your employer may initiate your claim with their insurance provider, but in any case, you should file your workers’ compensation claim as soon as possible so that you can begin receiving benefits. In both Georgia and Tennessee, there is a one-year statute of limitations on workers’ compensation claims. This means you only have one year from the date of the injury or the date on which the injury was discovered/diagnosed to file.
- Follow Your Doctor’s Treatment Plan: It is very important that you follow your treating physician’s instructions and recommendations regarding your recovery. Do not try to go back to work until you are cleared to do so, and refrain from engaging in any activities that could be seen as aggravating to your condition. If you wish to obtain a second opinion regarding your doctor’s advice, you may do so.
- Contact a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer: Even if your case seems relatively straightforward, you may encounter unexpected challenges during the filing process. It is a good idea to contact an experienced lawyer who can help you prepare and file your initial claim, as well as manage any disputes that may arise. An attorney can also help you appeal a denied claim or assist you in seek reinstatement of benefits if yours are terminated.
At The Roth Firm, LLC, we bring more than 15 years of legal experience to our practice. With offices in Atlanta, Marietta, Fayetteville, and Nashville, we proudly represent injured workers throughout Georgia and Tennessee. We have successfully fought for injured employees across all industries, including commercial vehicle drivers, construction workers, office employees, and many more.
No Fees Unless We Recover Benefits for You
We understand that the cost of hiring an attorney can deter people from seeking legal help with their workers’ compensation claims. However, at The Roth Firm, LLC, we provide our legal services on a contingency fee basis. This means that our firm handles the upfront costs associated with litigating your case, and we only collect attorney fees if/when we recover compensation for you. These fees are paid via a percentage of your total recovery, which we discuss with you prior to you hiring our firm.
We also offer free consultations, so there is absolutely zero risk in speaking to our workers’ compensation attorneys about your case and learning how we can help. We provide legal services in both English and Spanish (hablamos español) and can answer any questions you may have.
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