When you are not working at all (temporary total benefits): You can receive benefits when the doctor says you cannot work at all, or if the doctor has put you on light duty work and there is no light duty work available. Once you have been out of work for a week (the "waiting period"), you are entitled to weekly lost income checks. If you are out of work for 21 days, you are entitled to be paid for the waiting period as well. These checks are due 21 days after the injury.
These weekly checks are equal to two-thirds of your pay to a maximum of $500.00 if you were injured on or after July 1, 2006. The maximum payment is $425.00 per week for injuries sustained from July 1, 2003 to June 30, 2006, $400.00 per week for injuries sustained from July 1, 2001 to June 30, 2003 and $375.00 for those sustained from July 1, 2000 to June 30, 2001. These payments are TAX FREE
Temporary Partial and Permanent Partial Benefits
If you are working but earning less money (temporary partial benefits): If you have work restrictions and can return to work but you are earning less than you were earning when you were injured, either because you are making less per hour or because you are working fewer hours, you are entitled to partial disability benefits.
For temporary partial benefits, the weekly checks are equal to two-thirds of the difference between what you made before you were injured and what you make after you were injured, up to a maximum of $300.00 if you were injured on or after July 1, 2005. The maximum rate is $284.00 per week for injuries sustained from July 1, 2003 to June 30, 2005, $268.00 for injuries sustained from July 1, 2001 to June 30, 2003 and $250.00 if you were injured between July 1, 2000 and June 30, 2001. These payments are not taxed.
Medical Benefits and Mileage
The insurer must pay all of your medical bills as long as you go to the workers' compensation (company) doctor. There is no co-insurance, no deductible, and no time limit. The insurer must pay for your medical bills as long as the doctor says that the treatment is for your job related injury. This can be a lifetime obligation. You have a right to see at least two doctors on the list of doctors that your employer is required to post. You have the right to be treated by a doctor of your choice if the State Board approves such a request. If you have received weekly benefits, you have the right to be examined by the doctor of your choice within 120 days of your receipt of those benefits.
As of December 1, 2005, you are entitled to 40 cents per mile for trips you make to and from the doctor. For trips made prior to that date, you are entitled to 28 cents per mile. You should keep track of your mileage as soon as you start going to the doctor.
How Long Benefits Last
Medical Benefits last a lifetime.
Temporary Total Benefits
For injuries occurring after July 1, 1992, your benefits can continue for 400 weeks from the date of injury, unless you have a catastrophic claim. If you have a catastrophic claim, you may receive lifetime benefits. Should you receive a light duty work release from your authorized doctor, these benefits may be limited to 52 consecutive weeks or 78 total weeks, in which case they would be changed and reduced to temporary partial benefits.
Temporary Partial Benefits are limited to 350 weeks from the date of the accident.
Permanent Partial Disability Benefits are computed by multiplying the percentage of your impairment rating given by your authorized doctor by the number of weeks allowed under the law for the type of injury that you have.
Rehabilitation and Pain and Suffering
Should you have a catastrophic injury, you will be entitled to medical and vocational rehabilitation benefits. Trained rehabilitation professionals assist the injured worker in medical care and in attempting to return to work. Rehabilitation benefits can include retraining, but that is rarely seen.
There is no recovery for pain and suffering.
Workers' compensation is a no fault system. It does not matter whether the accident was the employer's fault, your fault, or no one's fault. While you very well might be in pain and undoubtedly suffering, you cannot recover any money for this.
Workers' compensation claims are frequently settled. This means that the insurer, instead of paying all of the benefits listed above, merely pays a lump sum amount of money, and may agree to pay for medical benefits over a specified period of time, usually between 3 months and 1 year. While you may wish to settle, there is nothing that can be done to force the insurer to settle. The insurer cannot force you to settle either. Employers rarely agree to settle with an employee who wants to continue to work for the same employer.
Can I be fired after being injured on the job?
Yes. There is not a Georgia law that prohibits an employer from firing an employee who is receiving workers' compensation benefits. An employer who fires an employee while the employee is unable to work, however, runs the risk of having the employee receive workers' compensation benefits for a longer period should the employee not be able to find other suitable employment. Frequently, an employer will wait until an employee receives a regular duty work release from the doctor and then fire the employee because the employee would not then be eligible for further workers' compensation benefits. If this happens to you, please contact us and we may be able to assist you in obtaining further benefits.
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