Serious injuries often force people to miss work. Sometimes, your injury may keep you from working for a week or two. Other times, an injury can keep you out of work for months or years.
When your injury is covered by workers compensation, the workers compensation insurance company pays you “lost wage” benefits when your injury causes you to miss work. These lost wage benefits are known as temporary total disability benefits.
One problem people face after a workers compensation in Georgia is that these benefits do not start immediately. There is a waiting period before the insurance company has to pay your first check. This article will discuss how long the insurance company has to start paying you temporary total disability benefits and what happens if they are late.
Remember that each state has different workers compensation laws. This article provides information about the laws that apply to Georgia workers compensation claims.
The due date for the first payment of temporary total disability benefits is 21 days after you become disabled by your workers compensation injury. You date of disability is basically the date you come out of work as a result of your injury.
Georgia law gives the insurance company 21 days to make the decision about whether they will accept or deny your case. During this time, they should investigate your case and make a decision. If they agree to accept your case, they should start paying temporary total disability benefits. If they decide to deny your case, they should file a controvert which is a fancy legal word for denial.
Is there something I can do to get my benefits paid sooner?
This 21 day period can often be very difficult because your bills do not stop when you get injured. You are out of work and not getting a paycheck.
Unfortunately, there is not really anything you can do to force the insurance company to pay you sooner. They have the full 21 days under Georgia law. They could choose to pay you earlier if they want, but they will probably use most or all of the 21 days.
Is there just one type of waiting period in Georgia for payment of temporary total disability benefits?
Actually, most people would say that there are two different waiting periods. One waiting period is the 21 day waiting period that I mentioned above for the insurance company to start paying your weekly workers compensation checks.
You should also know about another Georgia workers compensation seven day waiting period. This seven day waiting period applies to your first seven days of disability after a work injury. It says that the insurance company does not have to pay you for that first seven days of disability.
This means that you will probably not get paid any workers compensation temporary total disability benefits if you miss seven or less days of work. This seems unfair, but it is part of Georgia’s workers compensation law.
It can be confusing as to how these two waiting period work together. A couple of examples may make it a little clearer:
- If you miss seven days of work (or less), the seven day waiting period applies and you do not receive any temporary total disability benefits
- If you miss eight days or more – the insurance company does not have to pay you for the first seven days, but they start owing you benefits on the eighth day. So, if you missed a total of 14 days, you would receive seven day of temporary total disability benefits
Can I ever get paid for that first week I miss from work?
Yes. Georgia’s law provides that you get paid for that first seven days if your injury ever keeps you out of work for 21 days in a row. At that point, the insurance company would have to pay you for the first seven days you missed from work.
If you miss more than 21 days in a row at the beginning of your claim, then you may not ever even be aware of the 7 day waiting period. But, the 21 days in a row does not have to be at the beginning of your claim.
You can still get paid for that seven day waiting period if you miss 21 days in a row at any point. This often happens when someone misses less than 21 days after their initial injury and then returns to work but later has to come out of work for an extended time to have surgery and recover afterward.
The seven day waiting period refers to what money the insurance company owes you. The 21 day waiting period refers to how long the insurance company has to pay the money it owes you.
The seven day waiting period applies first to determine whether you are owed benefits and how much you are owed. For example, if you miss 14 days of work after an injury and then return to work making your regular salary, the insurance company owes you 7 days of benefits at that point. But, the insurance company still has 21 days from the day you became disabled to pay those benefits under the 21 days period for investigating and making a decision on your claim.
What if I am confused or have questions?
Many people get confused trying to figure out how these two waiting periods interact. If you have specific questions, one of the best ways to get answers is a consultation with a workers compensation attorney.
I provide free consultations in workers compensation case so you can get answers without worrying about the cost to you. If you have questions about how our free consultations work, just read this short article for some more information or you can call our office and we will be glad to explain.
If you would like to set up a free consultation about your workers compensation case, it only takes a couple of minutes. Just call our office at (770) 214-8885 or complete and submit our free consultation request form.