When employees get hurt on the job, some employers do what they should and pay workers compensation benefits. This is the way the workers compensation system should work.
But, there are other employers who try to avoid taking responsibility for injuries to employees. Some of the common tactics used by these employers are:
- Ignoring requests to let an employee see a doctor after an injury
- Telling employees that they should use group health insurance or long term disability instead of filing for workers compensation
- Trying to get employees to sign statements saying they were injured at home or somewhere else
When you get hurt and your employer refuses to file workers compensation, it can cause real problems. It interferes with you getting the treatment you need to recover. If your injury prevents you from working, it makes it very difficult for you to keep up with your bills.
What can you do if you get hurt and your employer refuses to file workers compensation?
You have remedies available if your employer refuses to file workers compensation like they should. You can request a hearing to have a judge order your employer to pay workers compensation benefits.
A Georgia workers compensation judge has the authority to order employers and insurance companies to pay workers compensation benefits. Here are a few examples of what a workers compensation judge can order:
- Payment for medical treatment needed for the workers compensation injury
- Checks for time missed from work as a result of the injury
- Checks for making less money at work as a result of the injury
- Late penalties against the insurance company if benefits are not paid on time
- Attorney’s fees against the insurance company for not following workers compensation rules or defending a claim without reasonable grounds
There are other things that can be done when your employer does not follow the workers compensation rules. Sometimes, an attorney representing you can deal directly with your employer or their insurance company and get them to handle your case under workers compensation.
Are there rules that require your employer to file workers compensation paperwork when you get hurt?
Yes. Georgia’s rules require your employer and their insurance company to file paperwork either accepting your case or denying it within 21 days after you report that you have been injured. Even though these rules are out there, employers do not always follow them.
If your employer does not follow the rules, you may be entitled to penalties under the workers compensation law. If you have to hire an attorney to represent you because your employer does not follow the rules, a workers compensation judge can sometimes force the insurance company to have to pay your attorney’s fees.
How long does a workers compensation lawsuit take?
It depends. Getting to court and getting a decision from a judge in a workers’ compensation case normally takes about 6 months. If there are appeals of the judge’s decision, that will take longer.
Sometimes, the insurance company will change their mind and accept your workers compensation case before you actually have a hearing in front of a judge. Also, many workers compensation cases end up settling before going to court.
One important thing to understand is that workers compensation cases are different than many other types of legal cases. When you win your workers compensation case, it usually entitles you to receive some sort of weekly workers compensation check and the medical treatment you need for your injury.
But, your case does not end with the decision from a judge. A decision from a judge in your favor may entitle you to get benefits for some time in the future as you recover from your injury at work. One of the good things about the workers compensation system is that it covers the medical treatment and testing you need for the injury and a percentage of your lost wages if you are unable to work.