Frequently Asked QuestionsLearn more about worker’s compensation and insurance issues
As An Employer, What Does Workers’ Compensation Do For Me?
The Georgia workers’ compensation system allows for an injured employee to receive medical care and a portion of their wage for time missed from work due to work-related injury. With some notable exceptions, the Georgia Workers’ Compensation Act does not consider the negligence of the employee surrounding an injury. The same applies for the employer. The Exclusive Remedy Provision
s of the Workers’ Compensation Act prohibits the injured employee from suing the employer in civil court for a work-related injury and their recovery is limited to the benefits provided under the Workers’ Compensation Act. Therefore, the employee is not allowed to recover for pain and suffering, loss of consortium, or emotional distress, nor is the employee entitled to a jury trial. Instead, if necessary, the employee’s case will be heard by an administrative law judge who has extensive experience and expertise in Georgia workers’ compensation law. Likewise, the possible negligence of the employer is irrelevant. Finally, the employee’s medical treatment is limited to all reasonable and necessary treatment and services provided by a licensed physician which shall be reasonably required and appear likely to effect a cure, give relief or restore the employee to suitable employment. The Georgia Workers’ Compensation Fee Schedule is utilized to review medical bills resulting in significant savings to the employer. All medical care under the Act is less than what you would pay if an injured employee was sent to a hospital without workers’ compensation insurance. For example, an x-ray can cost over $100 to a self-pay patient, but under the fee schedule, it only costs $65.
What Employers Are Required To Have Workers’ Compensation Insurance?
If you regularly employ three or more persons, part-time or full-time, you are required to provide workers’ compensation insurance. There are fines and penalties that may apply if you fail to provide workers’ compensation insurance. However, if your employees are farm laborers, then may you be exempt from providing workers’ compensation insurance. A farmer does have the option to buy workers’ compensation insurance to cover his or her employees, but is not required to do so under the Act.
Okay, So Now I Have Workers’ Compensation Insurance. Do I Have To Tell My Employees?
Absolutely. You want them to know you have it and remind them of it regularly. Safety meetings are a great opportunity to discuss workers’ compensation issues. Make sure that you tell your employees to report each/every injury, no matter how small, to their supervisor or other designated agent as soon as it happens. Have the employee sign and date a brief statement describing how the injury occurred. Provide them with a copy of the Panel of Physicians, and let them select a physician by circling their choice, initialing and dating the form. Explain to them how workers’ compensation works. If you do not know how it works, call your workers’ compensation insurance provider or us, and we will gladly explain it.
So… I Told Them. What Are My Responsibilities Now?
Until an employee gets hurt, all you have to do is maintain a valid workers’ compensation insurance policy and prominently display a valid Panel of Physicians in a place where employees can see it. Popular locations include break rooms, next to time clocks, and on bulletin boards. You can also include it as part of orientation materials. Display the Workers’ Compensation Bill of Rights next to the Panel of Physicians, both of which can be found at this link: http://sbwc.georgia.gov/board-forms/
What Is This “Pink” Sheet With A List Of Doctors That I Keep Hearing About?
The Posted Panel of Physicians has historically been printed on a pink background under the theory that this promotes visibility and attracts the attention of employees. Any color of paper is fine so long as it is not black, unless you want a fiasco like the Central Intelligence Agency faced.
The Panel of Physicians requires at least 6 health care providers to be listed, though there are some additional requirements and technicalities. Often, your insurance provider will provide you with a valid panel to display at your business. We recommend that you display multiple copies and include 8 or 9 individual physicians rather than the minimum 6 to make sure it remains valid if one physician moves their location or decides to stop treating work-related injuries.
I Just Heard A Crash. Now What? What Information Do I Need To Gather?
Congratulations, you likely have an injured employee. Once you know, or should have known, about an accident, either through the employee reporting it or some other channel of information, you are responsible for gathering the information necessary to complete a form WC-1. This form is the Employer’s First Report of Injury. As such, you need to include the employee’s name, address, date of hire, position, county of injury, injured body part(s), current wage rate, and accident information on the WC-1. You should immediately report the accident to your insurer. Your workers’ compensation insurance provider will often obtain this information from you and actually complete the form, but it helps if you use the form as a template. It can be found here: http://sbwc.georgia.gov/board-forms/
My Injured Employee Cannot Return To Work. What Should I Do Now?
First, call and check on the employee. See how they are doing. Send flowers if they are in the hospital. Let them know you are concerned about them. Reaching out to the injured employee can often make a positive difference in a claim. We do not want an employee feeling they are neglected or forgotten. Second, make sure you have completed a WC-1 and that the employee selects a doctor from the Panel of Physicians.
Third, make sure you have notified your insurance provider and given them all of the information they need. Fourth, know that the employee will receive medical benefits immediately and that income benefits will be commenced if the employee misses 7 days or more of work after his or her accident. Finally, do everything in your power to find suitable light duty work which accommodates the worker’s restrictions. Provide this information to your insurer. Do not terminate the employee because of the injury or missed time!
My Injured Employee Has Returned To Work. What Should I Do?
If the employee has returned in his or her regular position and is earning his or her regular wage, then you do not have much to do. Document any complaints they may have and do whatever you can within reason to ease them back into work, especially if they have been out for a while.
If the employee has been released to return to work with restrictions from his or her authorized treating physician (selected from your valid panel), then try to accommodate the restrictions and allow the employee to return to work. If he or she is restricted from lifting anything over 10 pounds, make sure that they do not lift anything over 10 pounds. If they need to sit for 10 minutes per hour or change positions, make sure they do it. Document any complaints. Most importantly, document any reason why the employee misses work, leaves early or fails to do their tasks.
If your employee has any other accident, or injury or stops coming to work, contact your insurance provider for further guidance.
If I Do All Of This, Why Do I Still Need An Attorney?
See if you know the answer to the following frequently asked questions: if an undocumented worker is injured on the job, is he entitled to receive workers’ compensation benefits? If a worker is injured while driving a company vehicle due to another person running a stop sign, can you recover against the other driver for workers’ compensation benefits? (Answers below).
Not sure? Don’t panic. Workers’ compensation claims can get complicated and involve many issues. This is why the Wallace Law Group is here
; : for you. We have almost 25 years of experience in successfully defending workers’ compensation claims throughout south and middle Georgia. We zealously represent our clients in defending workers’ compensation claims.
(Answers: Yes and Yes).
SLAY THE JARGON: COMMON ABBREVIATIONS IN GEORGIA WORKERS’ COMPENSATION CLAIMS
Claimant: An injured employee who has filed a claim for workers’ compensation benefits.
AWW: Average Weekly Wage. This is an average of a claimant’s gross weekly earnings and is used to calculate income benefits. To find a claimant’s average weekly wage, add up the claimant’s gross weekly earnings for the full the thirteen (13) weeks immediately preceding the date of accident and then divide by thirteen. If a claimant has not worked substantially the whole of the 13 weeks immediately preceding his or her accident, alternative methods may be used.
Compensation Rate: This is two-thirds of a claimant’s average weekly wage and is used to determine the proper amount of disability income benefits to pay up to the current maximum weekly benefit of $575.00 per week.
TTD: Temporary Total Disability. The income benefit that a claimant is entitled to receive if he or she is kept out of work by the authorized treating physician due to a work-related injury for longer than 7 consecutive days. It is two-thirds of a claimant’s average weekly wage, up to the $575.00 maximum weekly benefits.
TPD: Temporary Partial Disability. The income benefit that a claimant is entitled to receive if he or she has returned to work but is only able to earn a portion of his or her prior wages due to restrictions on his or her work capabilities from the work-related injury. For example, if a claimant is now only capable of working 20 hours per week instead of 40 hours per week, he or she can receive two-thirds of the difference between his or her average weekly wage and his or her current earnings up to the maximum temporary partial disability rate of $383.00 per week.
PPD: Permanent Partial Disability. This is a percentage of permanent impairment assigned by the claimant’s authorized treating physician to the claimant’s injured body part. In essence, it provides an idea of the permanent functional limitations caused by an injury. Once a percentage is provided, it is plugged into a formula to determine the amount necessary to compensate the claimant for the limited use of the injured body part. For example, if a claimant cuts a thumb off, that will be a 100 percent permanent impairment rating to his or her thumb which is valued at 60 weeks.
ATP: Authorized Treating Physician. This is the doctor selected by a claimant from your posted Panel of Physicians. If you were paying attention above, this doctor should be the one on the Panel of Physicians that is circled and has the claimant’s initials next to it.
Wallace Law Group, PC
102 W Moore Street
Valdosta, GA 31602
PHONE: +1 (229) 245-0090
FAX: +1 (229) 245-0302