Workers' Compensation Lawyers
No one wants to be injured – ever! It hurts, of course, but it can also be frightening and worrisome to become injured or ill due to your job. How will your employer respond to your injury? What if you were hurt through your own negligence, through the fault of a coworker, due to a dangerous piece of machinery or by the act of a third party? How will you pay your bills, if you are hurt? How will you get medical attention? What happens, if you are out of work for a long period of time? Will your employer terminate your employment? These and a number of other questions can swirl about in your head and the answers to these questions are sometimes “counterintuitive”. That is, the answers may not be what you thought they would be! Each state has its own workers’ compensation system and the laws of every state different to some degree, so no two states’ laws are exactly the same in all respects. Entitlement to compensation varies, compensation rates vary, the means and methods for getting medical attention vary. Claims, notice and statute of limitations periods and requirements vary. In short, it is imperative that you seek advice from an attorney knowledgeable in workers’ compensation in your jurisdiction if you are injured in the course and scope of your employment.
In addition to the substantive provisions of the workers’ compensation system of your jurisdiction, it can be challenging to file and prosecute a workers’ compensation claim and to navigate the complexities of the process. Again, it is as foolish to try to be your own lawyer in a workers’ compensation matter, as it is in other areas of law, especially if you are unfamiliar with the ins and outs and intricacies of the workers’ compensation claims code and process. The stress of prosecuting and managing a workers’ compensation claim can compound the stress being experienced due to the injury and disability, incapacity to work, and fear or concern over retaliation, real or imagined, by your employer. A skilled workers’ compensation attorney can help you determine the best course of action for your specific circumstance.
Having trusted counsel on your side can make the process go more smoothly and go faster, and with reduced stress, than if you tried to do it yourself.
Our workers’ compensation attorney at Thomas Hunter Law Firm in Savannah, GA is knowledgeable and ready to assist you with your worker’s compensation concerns and future steps. Get in touch with us today to schedule an appointment!
Workers' Compensation 101
What Is Workers’ Compensation?
Every state has its own system to deal with employees who are injured on the job or who may suffer an illness due to specific illness-causing exposures on the job and those systems are all different. At the core of every claim is the question of whether the injured worker is an “employee”, as defined by that state’s workers’ compensation code. In some states, an injured worker may not be covered for an on-the-job injury, if the worker is deemed to be an independent contractor, for example. Even some “employees” may be denied benefits for misbehavior, disregard of company rules and any number of other disqualifying criteria.
Employers of “employees” are typically subject to workers’ compensation acts, but, not always! Some states, for example, differentiate among employers based upon the companies’ number of “employees”, so a determination of whether the injured worker is an “employee” is always an important determination. [Georgia, for example, does not require that companies with less than three employees carry workers’ compensation coverage. They may elect to carry that coverage, if they wish, but some do not. But decisions to carry worker’s compensation coverage can have broader impact. What happens, for example, when a worker is injured and his company, maybe one that ordinarily would be required to carry workers’ compensation coverage, has characterized its entire workforce as “independent contractors”, who would typically not be covered for workplace injuries under a workers’ compensation policy? That situation is becoming more and more commonplace and problematic and warrants more discussion that this website will allow.]
If workers’ compensation benefits are available for an injured worker, those benefits are typically designed to provide a portion of the worker’s regular, periodic income (for example, 2/3 of the employee’s average weekly wage, in Georgia), reasonable and necessary medical care and, possibly rehabilitation services. These systems are not designed to “make the employee whole” or to cover all of the employee’s losses. Typically, these systems do not cover non-economic damages such as pain, suffering, or emotional grief. Again, the specific provisions of each state’s coverage will vary.
Who Does Workers Compensation Cover?
While state rules differ, all companies in Savannah, GA, with three or more regular employees, must carry workers’ compensation coverage. Are you an “employee”? Are you an “independent contractor”? Do you get a W-2 for tax purposes or do you get a Form 1099? Are you really an “employee”, even though your employer has designated or described you as an “independent contractor”? If your employer dictates the time, place and manner of your employment, provides you with the tools and place to do you work, tells you what time to show up and what time to clock out, has a disciplinary process if you fail to meet job or production requirements and similar considerations tend to make the worker look more like an “employee” than an “independent contractor”, notwithstanding the employer’s designation for tax purposes. In workers’ compensation, the substance and terms of the employment control whether the injured worker is deemed an employee or not.
What Should I Do After Being Injured On The Job?
You should notify your employer of your injury as soon as possible, even if the injury seems small or seemingly-insignificant. The employer is entitled to timely notice in order to investigate the incident. Of course, not all occurrences or traumas will lead one to believe that an injury may lead to something which will necessitate medical attention or lost time from work. But, a trauma that becomes a nagging issue, that will not heal or go away, or that begins to worsen are all signs that the workplace injury needs to be reported to the employer. [In Georgia, for example, notice of the injury or illness should be given to the employer within 30 days of your injury or work-related illness or of learning of the potential connection between the injury or illness and the workplace.] You might jeopardize your eligibility to workers’ compensation benefits, if you fail to provide proper and timely notice to the employer. You should also seek medical help; see authorized providers, if required; and, generally, comply with the rules and regulations of your state’s workers’ compensation code, and; keep track of all medical expenses and receipts.
What Is The Role Of A Workers’ Compensation Attorney?
Workers’ compensation attorneys typically work on a contingent fee basis, governed by the provisions of the workers’ compensation code of the state. So, again, the attorney’s compensation is generally contingent upon the attorney obtaining a money benefit for the client and upon the approval of the workers’ compensation governing body. The attorney will advise you your rights, represent you in hearings, as necessary, manage your claim, and, generally, seek to make sure that you get the benefits (typically, medical treatment and income benefits) that you need, deserve and that the law allows. In some instances, your attorney may be able to assist in recovering a settlement that would be in lieu of possible, future benefits. Settlements are not always possible, however, since settlements require willing parties on both sides and sometimes, insurers are unwilling to offer reasonable amounts to effect settlements.
When Should I Consult With A Workers’ Compensation Attorney?
It is always advantageous to consult with a workers’ compensation attorney as soon as possible after a work-related injury. That initial consult may indicate that you do or do not yet need a lawyer, but it will certainly result in your being more informed, which is always a good thing. If you have been injured, you need to know what to expect and what is likely to occur, and when to expect things to happen. If you do not speak with a lawyer immediately following your injury, however, here are some instances that should trigger that consultation:
1. Your employer rejects your claim.If your company refuses to accept your claim as compensable, meaning that they refuse to cover and pay your claim.
2. If you don’t get your benefits or your rights are, otherwise, violated.
If the employer has accepted your claim as compensable, but does not timely pay income benefits, or timely pay the correct amount of income benefits, or does not provide reasonable and necessary medical care, or does not direct you to such care, if required by statute, or fails to provide reasonable and necessary ancillary benefits (like crutches, wheelchairs or walkers, for example) that are prescribed by your medical provider. Some states (not Georgia) provide you some protections against retaliatory termination. These are all instances in which the workers’ compensation carrier or employer does not do what they are supposed to do, or does what they are prohibited from doing, and your attorney can seek to address these issues.
3. You wish to settle your claim.
If you file a claim, the insurer will deem it compensable, meaning it is covered by the workers’ compensation code, or not compensable, meaning not covered by the workers’ compensation code. In either instance, it is possible that a settlement might be achieved as settlements are a way to close out claims, whether accepted as compensable or not.
4. Your injury was caused by someone other than you.
Just how and why you were injured on the job is important. If you were injured on the job due to someone else’s negligence, whether a coworker, a machine that was defective or improperly modified or a third party, you need to speak with a lawyer. As I have said before, the laws of different states will differ. One state may allow you to bring a negligence claim against another person or entity – one outside the workers’ compensation arena – while another state may not. A workers’ compensation lawyer in your jurisdiction will know what you can and cannot do from a tort and bodily injury claim standpoint. Tort claims against viable, negligent parties can afford you the opportunity to receive additional compensation, including elements of damages that are not recoverable under workers’ compensation codes.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do I Have Grounds To Sue My Employer For Personal Injury?
What Types Of Benefits Are Available Under Workers’ Compensation?
- Medical benefits
- Income benefits
- Physical impairments coverage
- Death benefits
Why Should I Engage A Savannah, GA Workers’ Compensation Lawyer?
Professional Workers' Compensation Attorney In Savannah, GA
Working through a worker’s compensation claim, while dealing with the pain of your injuries and the disruption of your regular activities and daily routine, is not something you should attempt to do yourself.
The workers’ compensation attorney at Thomas Hunter Law Firm in Savannah, GA, can assist you, if you need a lawyer for workers’ compensation or have any concerns about a workers’ compensation claim. Our firm has helped clients recover millions of dollars in benefits.
We understand how insurers work. We know their claims practices and strategies. Our firm relishes the opportunity to take on complex cases with these powerful parties. You don’t have to fight them alone. Let us help you recover the workers’ compensation benefits – medical expenses or lost income – that you deserve.
Traumatic brain injuries can occur in on-the-job accidents, just like they can in car wrecks, trip and fall incidents and a host of other ways. The signs of such injuries can, of course, be obvious and dramatic, but they also be subtle and difficult to discern. Memory loss, persistent headaches, speech pathology, emotional disruption, and others, may necessitate examination. We try to be alert for such signs with our clients, whether they were injured on the job or otherwise, to make sure they get to professionals, who can evaluate and treat them for closed head injuries, if necessary. A traumatic brain injury can have life-altering consequences. Aside from dealing with the physical and emotional consequences of the damage, the victim also has to deal with the many day-today obstacles that come with being a person who has suffered a brain injury. These injuries expand the array of workers’ compensation benefits that could be available to an injured worker. Help is, fortunately, readily available. An attorney, who is attuned to brain injury cases, can provide support and direction throughout the legal process, ensuring that sufferers obtain the compensation they are entitled to receive.