Workers' Comp 101
Hurt on the Job? Know the Basics.
Workers’ comp. We’ve all heard of it, and it’s likely you associate it with particularly dangerous jobs. But it’s important to remember that injuries can happen anywhere and in any industry.
Workers’ compensation claims can be related directly to your day-to-day duties, like a lineman who falls from his bucket. But claims can also be as simple as a slip in the breakroom at an accountant’s office. Regardless of the circumstance, there are a few simple basics to the workers’ compensation system that are essential for every employee to know.
What is Workers’ Comp?
Workers’ compensation is essentially an insurance policy that your employer provides to cover medical expenses, rehabilitation costs, and lost wages in the event of an injury on work premises or while doing your job off-site. The State of Georgia requires most employers with three or more full-time, part-time or seasonal employees to have workers' compensation insurance. However, exceptions exist. Railroad carriers, U.S. government agencies, farm laborers, and domestic servants are exempt from the workers’ comp requirement.
To see if your employer carries a workers’ compensation policy, visit the State Board of Workers’ Compensation online verification portal. You can also check your office hallways and breakrooms, as employers are required to post workers’ compensation coverage notices in high-traffic locations. Posters will give instructions about how to file your claim and who to notify, and your human resources representative can provide additional information, like which doctors to see.
What Does Workers’ Comp Cover?
Workers’ compensation coverage is regulated at the state level. Therefore, each state’s requirements, and process will differ. In Georgia, workers’ comp covers three primary categories of assistance: 1) wages, 2) medical care, and 3) out-of-pocket medical expenses.
Workers’ compensation insurance will provide a portion of your weekly earnings while you are recovering from your injury. The wage benefit is based on a formula. Two-thirds of your weekly wages, up to a maximum of $675 per week, may be collected during the time you are physically incapable of doing your job. Under the Georgia designation of Temporary Total Disability (TTD), this benefit may last up to 400 weeks if deemed medically necessary.
“The worker’s comp wage benefit is meant to be a way of helping an employee through recovery,” says WBW partner Joe Cargile. “It’s not designed, however, to make the employee whole.”
Other eligible expenses under the workers’ comp umbrella come together with the wage benefit to provide a more well-rounded package for an injured employee. Medical treatment for the related injury provided by an approved physician and direct expenses, like rehabilitation and prescription costs, are also benefits of workers’ comp insurance. Other out-of-pocket expenses, such as travel to and from medical appointments, may be eligible for reimbursement, as well.
How an Attorney Can Help
The workers’ compensation system can be navigated alone. However, a knowledgeable legal team will help save you the time and headache of figuring it out on your own.
“It’s very formulaic,” says Cargile. “That’s part of the reason why working with an attorney is helpful. We make the best effort to manage your claim early and take care of you as a person, so you can get back to work quickly and in good health.”
If you or a loved one has been injured on the job, contact WBW at 229.226.2161 for a no-obligation consultation.