When you hear the phrase “workers’ compensation,” it may conjure up images of an employee tripping and falling over a box left in the middle of the floor or maybe an awkward encounter with a copy machine. But workers’ compensation claims are rarely that simple. If they were, there would be no need for lawyers to work on them, right?
In many cases, there will be more than one party at fault for your injury, which means you may also have a third-party liability claim against another person or company. You might also have a personal injury claim. Although workers’ compensation is “no-fault” insurance (meaning that it does not matter who was at fault for your injury), you still must prove that your injuries were caused by the workplace accident and that your employer knew about the dangerous conditions but did nothing to fix them before someone got hurt. Proving these things can sometimes be difficult without legal training and experience handling workers’ compensation cases in any courts.
Have you been hurt at work?
Work injuries are rarely just that — “just a work injury.” That’s because workers’ compensation is rarely just that — “just workers’ compensation.”
When you’re hurt at work, what you think is a “work injury” can become far more complex than that.
And because it often involves insurance companies and lawyers, your claim may have a ripple effect on things like:
- Your ability to earn a living
- The length of time it takes for your case to be resolved
- Any future claims against your employer or other parties (like the manufacturer of equipment that malfunctioned when you were injured)
If you get hurt, you need to seek out a personal injury lawyer or buy an insurance policy.
Personal injury protection is designed to help you pay for medical expenses and lost wages following an accident. This can be especially important if the other party involved in the crash is uninsured or underinsured. Medical expenses include everything from ambulance rides to hospital bills to prescriptions and more—all of which can add up quickly if you’re not prepared. Work loss might include time off from work due to your injuries, as well as any wages that are not covered by workers’ compensation.
Insurance policies can also help cover these costs, but they aren’t always enough to cover everything that may come up in the aftermath of a car crash or other accident.
If you make a claim for workman’s comp, your employer can fire you for making the claim. The law prohibits firing an employee for making such a claim, but employers still do it.
It’s not uncommon for an employee who has been injured on the job to be terminated. In fact, it is illegal for an employer to terminate an employee for making a claim for workers’ compensation benefits, but employers still do it. The law requires employers to provide reasonable time off from work and other accommodations so that employees can receive medical care and recover from their injuries. If you are fired after making a workers’ comp claim then you may want to talk with a lawyer about taking action against your former employer.
Insurance companies become involved in most workers comp claims, and their goal is to pay as little money as possible.
Insurance companies are not interested in helping you. They want to pay as little money as possible, get you back to work as soon as possible and minimize their risk, liability and costs. Things like pain and suffering won’t be considered at all if it means they have to pay more money out than they expected.
That said, there are ways to get the insurance company involved without them doing all the work for you:
- Take photos of your workplace injuries before going home—this will help prove how serious they were if you ever need it later on in court or at the Workers Compensation Board (WCB).
Most large employers have many lawyers who handle legal matters for the company. After you get hurt at work, chances are good that your employer will hire more lawyers to handle your case.
You may want to think about hiring a lawyer, too. Most large employers have many lawyers who handle legal matters for the company. After you get hurt at work, chances are good that your employer will hire more lawyers to handle your case.
The law allows an injured worker to choose any doctor he or she wants to treat the workplace injury, but it also requires that an employer’s insurance company pay for treatment by this doctor and others as needed. Injured workers usually have no cost share (that is, they do not have to pay anything) if they choose their own doctors.
Your job may be at risk, depending on how your employer handles your case. Your future job prospects may also be affected by the outcome of the case.
If you’re hurt at work and your employer fires you, it may be difficult to find another job. That’s because most employers will ask if you have ever been fired from a job. And if the answer to that question is yes, the next question is usually “Why?” And then they will want to know why.
If those questions can be answered without revealing details about your accident or injury, then there may not be any problem finding another job. But if the reason for being fired involves an accident on the job and/or a claim for workers’ comp benefits or disability compensation benefits, this information could affect any future employment prospects in ways that can range from minor inconveniences (like having difficulty getting hired by certain companies) to having few options available at all (such as being restricted only to jobs where no injuries are likely).
The company doctor will have to report his findings to your employer, which can affect what happens with your job and disability benefits. You need someone looking out for your interests too.
The company doctor is not your doctor. They are looking out for their own interests and the best interests of their employer, not yours. This isn’t a criticism; that’s how things work in this country.
You’re going to want someone who understands how workers’ compensation works and can help you get the best medical treatment possible under the circumstances.
Employers often ask injured employees to submit to an independent medical exam (IME) early in the process, but this is not always a good idea and may not be required under Georgia law. An IME is a medical exam given by a doctor who works exclusively for insurance companies and employers, rather than patients like you
Employers often ask injured employees to submit to an independent medical exam (IME) early in the process, but this is not always a good idea and may not be required under Georgia law. An IME is a medical exam given by a doctor who works exclusively for insurance companies and employers, rather than patients like you.
These exams are often used to deny claims because they are usually conducted later than other examinations and can include more thorough questioning of your injury than other doctors would ask. As such, these exams can lead to unfair denials of benefits or lost wages if you do not have an attorney who understands how they work.
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Workers’ compensation may seem like a straightforward process, but there are many nuances along the way that can have serious impacts on your life. Employers and insurance companies have teams of lawyers whose job it is to make sure they don’t pay you what you deserve. You need a team on your side that knows how to navigate these waters so you can focus on recovering from your injuries and getting back to work.