When you are injured in the workplace, it’s so important to understand what occurred and to make sure you are being fairly compensated for your injury. Did anything strange occur just before or after the accident? Were all safety guidelines and policies being followed at the time of your injury? Was your employer providing a safe work environment? Was your employer negligent in any way? Are you receiving all the Worker’s Compensation benefits you deserve? Depending on the answers to these questions, you may have grounds for a personal injury lawsuit.
1. Notify Your Employer
Georgia law requires you to notify your employers if you are injured at work or at a jobsite within 30 days. However, the longer you wait before informing your employer, the more your boss will wonder if you were actually injured or were truly injured at work. So it is extremely important that you notify your direct supervisor as well as your company or employer as quickly as possible after being injured. Ideally, you should inform them verbally immediately after the injury occurs or as soon as you notice the injury. You should also inform your employer in writing, either through email or a hand-delivered letter, as soon as you have received medical treatment and know the extent of your injuries.
2. Seek Medical Treatment
Only a medical professional can fully assess the extent of your injuries, so seek medical treatment as soon as possible. Inform the doctor’s office, emergency room, or clinic immediately after you arrive that you were injured at work so they can note this information in your medical records and have you fill out any additional paperwork they require. Also inform all nurses, physicians assistants, and doctors who treat you that you were injured at work. After the doctor runs whatever tests are needed and explains your injuries, ask them when you should return to work.
Some employers require you to see a doctor of their choosing. This information should be posted in a communal area like a company breakroom or be available to you in a company handbook. If you have seen a doctor but not the doctor required by your company, make an appointment to see that required doctor as well. You want to make sure you don’t give your work any excuses to withhold your benefits.
3. Document Your Injury
Write down everything you remember about what happened when you were injured in as much detail as you can remember. Take photos of your injuries and, if possible, where you were when it occurred. Take notes during your doctor’s appointments and ask for copies of any x-rays, test results, and other medical records pertaining to your injury. Also take notes on all calls you receive about your injury and treatment from the insurance company, your workplace, your doctor, and your pharmacy. Gather all your documents, medical records, and any bills you incur as a result of your injury.
Ask any coworkers who were with you when you were injured to write down what they remember about the accident or record a video of themselves explaining what happened. Even if the injury was no one’s fault, it’s very important to document both the accident and how it has affected you.
4. File for Worker’s Compensation
Accidents in the workplace qualify for Worker’s Compensation, which your employer pays for, and which provides medical, rehabilitation, and income benefits to injured workers. According to the State Board of Worker’s Compensation in Georgia, if you are out of work for less than 7 days, you will not receive any disability benefits from Worker’s Compensation, however you can receive compensation for your medical bills and other costs. Your employer and their insurance company must investigate your claim and file for Worker’s Compensation within 21 days of being informed of your injury.
To file for worker’s compensation, follow the steps and fill out the forms available on Georgia’s Worker’s Compensation website. If your employer has already filed a claim, you do not need to file another one. However, be sure to ask your employer for confirmation of their filing to ensure they did so within the required window.
5. Review Your Benefits
As a general rule, if your claim is approved by Worker’s Compensation, you should receive weekly benefits totaling about two-thirds of the amount of wages you would have earned during the same period of time, including tips, per diems, and bonuses. You are also entitled to compensation for your medical bills and other incurred expenses. The maximum wage benefits you can earn weekly is $675. To check that you are receiving fair benefits, contact Worker’s Compensation and ask for a copy of the wage statement your company filed. This document should detail the wages you received for the 13 weeks prior to your injury, and it is the basis for how your injury benefits are calculated. Make sure your wages have been recorded properly and the benefits you are receiving match those calculated.
6. Talk to a Workplace Injury Attorney
If you were injured in your workplace or at a jobsite but your employer is not paying you fair benefits, if Worker’s Compensation denied your claim, or if your employer is pressuring you to return to work earlier than your doctor recommends, contact an experienced personal injury attorney like me. If you believe you were injured because of your employer’s neglect or unsafe work practices or if your employer asks you to sign something stating your injury is resolved even though you still need treatment, make an appointment to see me right away. I offer free consultations, during which I can advise you about your unique situation. As a registered nurse, I understand how drastically your injuries can affect your life. As an experienced attorney, I know how much you deserve in benefits and compensation.