It is important to know what to do when a work-related injury requires a workers compensation lawsuit. Anyone regularly employed in Georgia and injured on the job should report it to a supervisor within 30 days. The Georgia State Board of Workers Compensation warns that failure to report before this deadline may forfeit medical, rehabilitation, and income benefits provided to help injured employees return to work. Any unnecessary delay in reporting also may raise doubt about whether the injury is in fact job-related.
Beginning the Process
The employer’s responsibility to initiate the benefits process begins after notification of the injury. The employer documents the injury, reports it to the workers compensation board, and submits a claim to its workers compensation insurer. Sometimes the board approves payment of benefits quickly but disputed claims can complicate and prolong the process.
After notifying the employer the injured worker should find out where to go for treatment. Unless granted an exception, the employer must provide a list of at least six doctors or a workers compensation managed care organization. The injured worker chooses a doctor from the list and may change to another listed doctor one time without the employer’s consent. Many employers have clinics to treat injured workers. Treatment often includes drug testing as the company needs to ensure the incident wasn’t caused by outside factors. In emergencies, the law allows immediate temporary treatment from any doctor. The injured worker has an obligation to cooperate with medical professionals and to accept reasonable treatment ordered by the board.
Maintain Your Records
Because of uncertainty inherent in the process the claimant should keep and compile all related records of the experience. Contact information for witnesses to the injury or people otherwise knowledgeable or involved, particularly medical personnel, can be invaluable. Records of changes in physical and mental abilities, of pain and distress, and of time missed from work are important in any claim. The claimant should keep copies of all correspondence related to the injury and notes on all communications and discussions with the employer, insurers, board personnel, and anyone else involved. Documented facts often determine outcomes on claims. Dates are very important.
Statutes and board rules that govern workers compensation claims can be difficult to interpret and apply for those who have not studied them regularly in depth. Most claimants need advice and clarification about eligibility and claim procedures. Workers compensation attorneys help claimants defend, preserve, and protect legal rights and recover full and fair compensation benefits in any particular case.
Every claimant should think about consulting with a workers compensation attorney. In the consultation as at all times during the process the claimant should be completely truthful. Claimants who stick to the facts without embellishment or exaggeration have no trouble being consistent and convincing in their accounts of the injury. Once fully and accurately informed their attorneys can decide how best to proceed.