People who have never been out on workers compensation in Georgia assume that it’s like being on a long vacation. All they envision is being paid to stay home from work. It’s like you’re experiencing one extremely long sick day. However, workers compensation is nothing like that. The only reason you’re home from work is because you suffered an injury. It’s not like you’re out on a beach enjoying the sun. You’re shuffling between doctor’s appointments and physical therapy.
Our employment lawyers in Augusta, Georgia represent dozens of people every year who suffer serious injuries at work. They would gladly switch places with somebody who is healthy and going to work every morning.
The good news is that, at some point, you will go back to work. Even if you can’t do the same kind of work you did before the accident, you’ll still go back to work somewhere. Most of our clients enjoy going back to work, seeing their coworkers, and interacting with the outside world again. They also like getting their whole paycheck again after receiving just 2/3 of their average weekly wages for months.
Here, we’ll explain how long workers compensation in Georgia lasts. We’ll also explain the different ways your workers compensation claim may end. If you still have questions about your own workers compensation case, you should call our office right away. We can schedule your free, initial consultation by phone or even through our website.
You Have to Qualify for Workers Compensation Benefits Before You Do Anything
Before you worry about how long your benefits will last, you need to be approved for workers compensation. In Georgia, in order to qualify for workers compensation, you must meet the following requirements:
- You were involved in an accident that took place at work
- Your injury occurred on company time
- You reported your accident and injuries right away
- You were not under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of your workplace accident
- You agree to be seen by a state-approved workers compensation doctor
- You follow your treatment recommendations and participate fully in your care
Once you’ve demonstrated that you meet these criteria, your claim should be approved. If it’s denied, your employment lawyer in Augusta, Georgia will appeal the decision on your behalf.
The Maximum Number of Weeks You Can Collect Benefits in Georgia is 400 Weeks
Once your benefits are approved, you’ll be eligible to collect them for up to 400 weeks. Now, most cases are resolved long before this time. If you think about it, 400 weeks is just under 8 years. Can you imagine being out on workers compensation for that long? Most people can’t. Our personal injury lawyers in Georgia certainly can’t. That’s why we work hard to settle our clients’ claims long before it gets to that point.
Most Workers Compensation Claimants Go Back to Work in a Matter of Months
Most people who go out on workers compensation are back to work within months. Some people’s injuries are so severe they end up collecting benefits for a year or so. However, in our experience, very few cases ever last 400 weeks. Some employment lawyers in Augusta, Georgia have never had a case that lasted this long.
That’s because one of three things happen. Either the employee recovers from their injuries and goes back to work. Or the doctor determines that they’ve reached maximum medical improvement and their benefits terminate. Or their personal injury lawyer in Georgia settles their case.
The workers compensation cases that settle are often the ones that involve a total or partial permanent disability. For example, if the doctors determine that you’ll never be able to use your left wrist again, you can claim a total permanent disability. The same is true if your doctor says that you’ll need a knee replacement. This may make it impossible to do the kind of work you did prior to your accident.
In situations like this, our employment lawyers in Augusta, Georgia will negotiate a fair settlement with the insurance company. They don’t want to pay out benefits for almost 8 years any more than you want to collect them for that long.
At Some Point, Your Doctor Will Determine that You’ve Reached Maximum Medical Improvement
Most workers compensation claims close when the employee’s workers compensation doctor declares that they’ve reached maximum medical improvement. This simply means that you’ve reached the point at which further medical care won’t help anymore. When this happens, your doctor will order you to return to work. If you disagree with this assessment, your personal injury lawyer in Georgia can challenge this determination.
Your lawyer may need to consult medical experts to get their opinions. If they’re able to find one that agrees that you need further medical care, you can have them sign an affidavit to this effect. Your lawyer will then present a copy of this affidavit to your employer and their insurance carrier. If they still refuse the additional treatment, you can appeal this decision to the North Carolina Industrial Commission. They’ll hold a brief hearing to decide the matter.
What if Your Employer Forces You to Go Back to Work Too Soon
There’s always the chance that your employer will try to pressure you to go back to work too soon. If you don’t feel you’re fully healed, make sure you tell your employment lawyer in Augusta, Georgia. Even if the doctor has determined that you’ve reached maximum medical improvement, your lawyer can still appeal this decision. They can have you see an independent doctor for a second opinion. Depending on what this doctor’s report says, you may buy yourself a little extra time. If not, your attorney can file suit on your behalf.
Sit Down with an Experienced Employment Lawyer in Augusta, Georgia Today
One mistake you don’t want to make is waiting too long to call a personal injury lawyer in Georgia. There are several reasons for this. First, you don’t want to wait so long that you miss the statute of limitations period. Second, you don’t want the evidence surrounding your case to get stale. Finally, you don’t want to wait any longer than necessary to get your money.
This is why we suggest that our workers compensation clients call our office within days of their workplace accident. Since our personal injury lawyers in Georgia don’t charge anything until they settle your case, you have nothing to lose.