Sustaining an on-the-job injury is a traumatic event and often can lead to a significant disruption in one’s life, both personally and financially. Workers’ compensation insurance carriers, by law, are required to provide certain benefits to injured workers. However, at times, these benefits are difficult to obtain. If you choose not to be represented by an attorney, or delay representation, you most likely will be at a disadvantage which could result in delay or denial of your benefits. It is important to have representation by an experienced and qualified workers’ compensation attorney.
If you are injured at work, you have certain rights and entitlements. For instance:
- A Choice of Medical Providers from a Posted Panel of Physicians
Every employer with 3 or more employees, is required by law to carry workers’ compensation insurance. Employers must post a “panel of physicians” from which an employee may choose to receive treatment in the event of sustaining an on-the-job injury. If the employer fails to post a panel of physicians, an experienced workers’ compensation attorney can assist the injured worker with negotiation for the best medical care, or in some cases a change of physicians.
- Payment of All Related Medical Bills
Employers are required to pay all medical bills incurred as a result of reasonable and necessary treatment provided by an authorized physician for an on-the-job injury. This includes the bills of the authorized treating physician chosen from the “posted-panel”, any bills of physicians to whom the injured worker was referred by the authorized treating physician, as well as any necessary emergency treatment the employee receives from a non-posted panel physician. The injured worker may also be entitled to a “one time” independent medical examination from a physician of his or her choice and a “one time” permanent change of his/her chosen posted panel physician.
- 3. Temporary Total Disability Benefits
In the event an employee is rendered temporarily unable to work as the result of sustaining an on-the-job injury, his or her employer is required to pay temporary total disability (TTD) benefits as compensation for missed income. TTD is due to an employee who has missed a specified amount of time from work at the direction of his or her physician. Receipt of short or long term disability payments or social security disability payments may change the amount of your workers’ compensation benefits.
- Temporary Partial Disability Benefits
In the event an employee is able to return to work, but with certain restrictions (i.e. working fewer hours and/or a lighter duty job for less pay), his or her employer is required to pay temporary partial disability (TPD) benefits. TPD partially compensates the employee for the difference in earning ability before and after the injury.
- Permanent Partial Disability Benefits
When an employee is released from doctor’s care or after receiving treatment for a certain amount of time, he or she may be given a permanent partial disability (PPD) rating from the treating physician. A PPD rating reflects the percentage of permanent loss to the person of an employee. For example, if an employee is given a 10% PPD rating, to the body as a whole, his or her body will forever function at 90% of its original capacity. A formula specified by Georgia law is then applied to determine the monetary value of permanent loss.