Many people have misunderstandings about Georgia’s Workers Compensation laws and how they work. If you do not understand your workers’ compensation rights, you will probably not be treated fairly and may not be paid the benefits you should receive.
Here are a few of the common misconceptions that people have about Georgia’s workers’ compensation laws:
MISCONCEPTION #1 – If I did not tell my employer about my injury immediately, I lose my case
Sometimes people are told by their employer that they cannot file for workers’ compensation because they did not report their injuries immediately. This is not correct.
Georgia’s workers’ compensation laws do require you to tell your employer about your injury within 30 days. You can find out more about this requirement in our article about statutes of limitations. Even though you legally have 30 days to tell your employer about your injury, it is still better to tell your employer as soon as possible.
MISCONCEPTION #2 – I have to go to the doctor that my employer selects for me
Many people are told by their employer that they have to go a certain doctor after their injury. This is not correct.
You can actually select your authorized treating physician – the primary doctor who will treat you for your injury – from your employer’s panel of physicians. To find out more about the panel of physicians and medical treatment for your injury, feel free to read our article about picking your workers’ compensation doctor.
MISCONCEPTION #3 – The insurance company has to pay me money for pain and suffering
Many people believe that they are entitled to be paid for pain and suffering in a Georgia workers’ compensation case. Unfortunately, this is not the case.
While I wish that workers’ compensation insurance companies were required to pay money for the pain that injured workers experience, the law in Georgia does not currently require that. There are only certain benefits that your employer and their insurance company have to pay in a workers’ compensation case.
However, it is important to know that sometimes you have a right to pursue a personal injury case in addition to your workers’ compensation case. You usually can recover for your pain and suffering in a personal injury case. Our law firm handles personal injury cases in addition to workers’ compensation cases.
MISCONCEPTION #4 – I am entitled to a settlement in my case
Many people believe they are entitled to a settlement in their workers’ compensation case. This is not correct.
You are not “entitled” to a settlement, but most workers’ compensation cases do settle. The reason you are not entitled to a settlement is because no one can force any person or company to settle. The insurance company cannot be forced to settle just like you cannot be forced to settle.
This is actually good because you have some control over your case. Most insurance companies and employers do want to settle workers’ compensation cases. So, if you want to settle your case, it is likely that you will be able to do so. If you are considering settling your case, we would suggest that you take a look at our series of articles about settlement for more information about settlement.
MISCONCEPTION #5 – If the insurance company sends me a check for my permanent partial disability rating and I cash it, my case is over
Many people believe that cashing a check from the insurance company for permanent partial disability benefits end their case. This is not correct.
You are entitled to permanent partial disability benefits when your doctor has given you a permanent partial disability rating and the insurance company is not currently paying you temporary total disability or temporary partial disability benefits. Sometimes, the insurance company pays these checks weekly. Sometimes, they pay the entire amount in one check.
Either way, cashing the check will not end your case. Generally, you can only end your case is by signing settlement paperwork that is approved by a judge at the State Board of Workers’ Compensation. But if you wait too long, you can basically end your case by letting certain deadlines called statutes of limitation pass.
Because of these deadlines, it is always a good idea to consult with an attorney specializing in workers’ compensation if you are having or believe that you may continue to have any problems with your injury.