Frequently Asked Questions
Questions everyone should ask
We can’t tell you that until we talk to you. While we may decide that your case is not one we can help you with, we think it is necessary to talk to you in order to make that decision. If in doubt, call us at (770) 285-0548) or complete the form on this page to set up a free consultation.
Our firm specializes in two areas of law: workers’ compensation and veterans benefits. We handle these cases exclusively. We believe that focusing our time on these areas allows us to be more effective advocates for our clients.
Our attorneys do not work for insurance companies, corporations, or the government. We only work for people.
Because every case is different, it’s impossible to accurately answer that question up front. We are very thorough in how we handle cases, because you only get one recovery.
If your case settles too quickly, you may discover you have additional or more severe problems than you thought. If you’ve already settled, you cannot go back for more later. We make every effort to handle your case as quickly as we can without jeopardizing your recovery.
Absolutely. While Perkins Studdard has wonderful, competent people who assist our attorneys on your case, you will have one attorney who is responsible for your case. Many times our paralegals can answer your questions, but if you need to speak to your attorney, you may.
No. We will be glad to talk to you on the phone or in person at no charge. You owe us nothing until you hire us by signing a contract. Even then, you only pay us out of the money we recover for you.
Questions about Workers' Compensation
When you are first injured on the job, it is important to report your injury to your supervisor and fill out an accident report. If you do not report your injury to your supervisor, you may lose your right to receive Workers’ Compensation benefits. Even if you did not immediately report your injury, do not just take the employer or insurance company’s word that you will lose. We may still be able to win your case. There are many exceptions to the rules and a good lawyer can often find the exceptions that turn a losing case into a winning one.
You can almost always change doctors. You may be limited to choosing from the employer’s list. However many times, you can choose any doctor, even though they are not on the employer’s list. The employer can limit your choices to their list, but only if they have done all the things that the law requires, such as posting and explaining their list. Most of the time a good lawyer can find something that the employer has not done correctly and this means you can choose your own doctor. Please contact us so that we can help you determine what rights you have to change doctors.
There are several limits on how long you can receive Workers’ Compensation benefits in Georgia. For example, your benefits may be suspended when an employer files a Form WC-240 offering suitable work. If your employer files a Form WC-104, your benefits may be reduced one year after your doctor releases you to return to work with restrictions. Your benefits may stop 350 weeks or 400 weeks after your injury if your claim is not declared catastrophic. But all these limits may not be enforced against you if the employer has not correctly performed all the technicalities that the law requires. A good attorney can usually find errors that the employer has made and can thus prevent the employer from stopping your benefits before they should.
There are certain circumstances where the insurance company is allowed to stop your check without going to court. However, the insurance company must follow the proper procedures in doing so. If the procedures are not properly followed, you may be entitled to get your check restarted. Even if the procedures are followed properly, you still will be entitled to have your case heard by a judge. There are time limits for requesting a hearing in front of a judge when your check has been stopped. Please be sure to take action so that these time limits will not prevent you from getting the benefits to which you are entitled.
In some circumstances, the insurance company is allowed to reduce your check without going to court. However, the insurance company must follow the proper procedures in doing so. If the procedures are not properly followed, you may be entitled to get your check increased. Even if the procedures are followed properly, you still will be entitled to have your case heard by a judge.
The Workers’ Compensation Insurance company is responsible for paying for reasonable and necessary medical treatment for your injury at work. However, sometimes the doctor may not provide the medical treatment until the insurance company agrees to pay for it. If this happens, you can be stuck without getting the treatment that you need to get better. There are steps that can be taken to get the treatment done such as going to court and getting a judge to make the insurance company pay for treatment. The best choice about how to get the treatment approved depends on the facts of your particular case. Please call us if you would like to discuss how to get treatment approved in your case.
The Workers’ Compensation laws in each state are different. In Georgia, a previous injury or condition usually does not prevent you from recovering Workers’ Compensation benefits as long as an injury on the job or your day to day work made a preexisting condition worse.
Even if the insurance company denies your claim, you have a right to request a hearing through the State Board of Workers’ Compensation in Georgia. If a judge determines that you were injured on the job, he can issue an award in your favor and order the insurance company to pay you benefits. Three attorneys in our firm limit their practice to Workers’ Compensation cases and routinely handle hearings with judges from the State Board of Workers’ Compensation. Please contact us if you would like to find out more information about what we can do in your case.
Once your doctor has taken you out of work, the law in Georgia gives your employer twenty-one (21) days to make a decision about whether they will accept your claim and start paying benefits. If your employer does not comply with this law and start paying benefits, you may be entitled to penalties. You may also be entitled to have the insurance company pay your attorney’s fees if you have to hire an attorney. If the insurance company is not complying with the law in your case, please contact us to find out what we may be able to do for you.
Do not quit. Do not get upset and do something that gives the employer a reason to fire you. Call an attorney as soon as possible because the decisions you make and actions you take will determine whether you win or lose your case. If the employer is not following the doctor’s restrictions, then you can refuse the unsuitable work and still receive your workers’ compensation benefit. However, the employer will often claim that the work was within the doctor’s restrictions. It can be hard to prove to a judge that the work was not within the doctor’s restrictions. An attorney can make sure that you have the evidence you need to prove your case.
Be very careful about settlement. The amount that you should settle your Workers’ Compensation case for is a difficult question that involves consideration of many different factors. It is easy for someone who is not familiar with worker’s compensation to overlook many of these factors and settle their case for much less than it is really worth. We use a complex formula in an Excel spreadsheet to estimate the reasonable value of your claim. Some of these factors include your future medical treatment, the amount of time you will be out of work, and the amount of permanent impairment or disability that you experience as a result of your injury.
If you decide to settle your case and your settlement is approved by the State Board of Workers’ Compensation, your Workers’ Compensation case will be over. If you require additional medical treatment after your settlement, you will probably have to pay for it out of your own pocket. We would be happy to discuss settlement of your case with you if you wish to contact us.
Being fired never stops you from getting medical treatment paid by the insurer. Most of the time, being fired will not stop you from getting paid for being out of work after you are fired. You may have to do a job search to prove to the judge that you cannot find other work If you are still on restricted duty and can prove that you were fired for reasons related to your job injury, then you are entitled to disability without doing a job search. Our firm handled the Georgia Supreme Court case that made this exception to the job search rule (Padgett v. Waffle House).
The most serious injuries are classified catastrophic under Georgia Workers’ Compensation Law. If your injury is catastrophic, you may be eligible to receive vocational rehabilitation services and lifetime income benefits. Rehabilitation services may include things such as: vehicle modifications, assistance with daily living chores and housing modifications. Insurance companies will often fight hard to prevent an injury from becoming classified as catastrophic. So it is important to have a law firm that has experience with these matters. Normally, several additional steps must be taken before a case may be deemed catastrophic: Doctors must be questioned, witnesses may be called and expert witnesses may be consulted. If you are wondering if your injury qualifies, call Perkins Law Firm at 770-834-2083 or send us an email. It costs nothing to find out.
Georgia Workers’ Compensation law allows the dependents of a worker to collect benefits in case of the death of a worker. But often there may be other responsible parties. Usually, workers are killed as the result of vehicle and equipment accidents, or construction site accidents. It’s very important to consult with a Workers’ Compensation law specialist to ensure that family members get all the benefits they are entitled to receive.
A permanent partial disability rating is a rating given by your doctor to qualify the percentage of permanent impairment to your body as a result of your work injury. Georgia law currently requires the use of a book published by the American Medical Association to determine this rating. The rating may entitle you to additional Workers’ Compensation benefits now or in the future. On occasion, we have had doctors give too low a rating but have been successful in getting the rating corrected. If you have more questions about your permanent partial disability rating, please call us.
No. You are never required to settle your Workers’ Compensation case. Your employer cannot make you settle. The insurance company cannot make you settle. When one of our clients wants to know about settlement, we always discuss the positives and negatives of settlement after doing a detailed settlement evaluation. While we give our clients advice about settlement, we do not make them settle. If you have more questions about settlement, read this article from our blog for a much more detailed discussion.