What questions should you be asking your attorney after a work-related injury?
When a potential client first calls to discuss their work related injury, they usually have a number of questions regarding the facts of their case. Once we’ve discussed those issues with them, they typically ask something like this:
“It’s my first time having an on the job injury. What questions should I be asking?”
In this article, we will lay out the top 4 questions we get asked from injured workers like you—and answers from our experienced Georgia workers’ compensation attorneys.
Question #1: When will I start receiving workers’ compensation benefits?
Many people need a weekly paycheck to make ends meet and there are dire consequences if they don’t receive income on a weekly basis. Bills don’t stop coming in just because you were hurt on the job. Most landlords and banks don’t care about the reason why you aren’t generating enough income to pay your rent, car bill, credit card bills, etc. All they care about is that they’re not getting paid.
Workers’ compensation benefits can help you pay the bills, but it’s not always immediately provided.
An injured worker in Georgia is eligible for benefits if one of the following statements is true:
- The authorized treating physician has taken you totally out of work for at least 7) consecutive days, or
- The authorized treating physician has placed you on work restrictions that their employer cannot accommodate.
If one of those conditions are met, then benefits are due to the injured worker within 21 days. Therefore, there can be a period of time where the injured worker will be without checks for up to 3 weeks. Involving an attorney may help in reducing this time frame and getting paid faster.
Question #2: How much compensation will I receive per week?
The next question you should ask if you are, in fact, entitled to benefits is how much will I receive per week. To calculate how much you will receive per week our experts will take your total wages for the 13 weeks worked prior to the accident, then divide that number by 13 to determine the average weekly wage. Finally, we’ll multiply that average by two-thirds (⅔). This is your workers’ compensation rate.
There may be a lot of variables in calculating the final number, and your attorney can discuss the finer details of this calculation. It should also be noted that the money you receive from the workers’ compensation insurance company is tax free.
Question #3: Can I get a second doctor’s opinion about my work injury?
Many times, an injured worker is unhappy with the medical treatment they’ve received when they contact us. They’ve often been sent to an industrial clinic and received minimal care. Their complaints of pain haven’t been adequately addressed by the physician’s assistant or doctor. This situation leads many to wonder if they can receive a second opinion about their injury. The simple answer in this scenario is yes.
In Georgia, injured workers are entitled to a one-time switch in authorized treating physicians to a panel doctor. Typically, this switch is from an industrial clinic to an orthopedic specialist. Again, it’s important to contact an attorney so they can assist you in picking a fair and reasonable doctor for a second opinion.
Furthermore, if an injured worker is receiving indemnity benefits, they can request an independent medical treatment with any doctor of their choosing. Once again, it’s important to contact an attorney to discuss the best way to proceed with this second opinion.
Question #4: Should I talk to my employer?
The final question we get asked is if an injured worker should talk to their employer about their injury claim. What should you do if your employer contacts you? In our opinion, you should avoid talking to your employer about your workers’ compensation case once you’ve hired an attorney. Let your attorney handle the communication because there will be legal ramifications of those discussions.
Offers to return to work in a light duty capacity should be put in writing. This may be the basis of litigation by either side, so it’s best to get documentation. Furthermore, employers may attempt to intimidate or put pressure on the injured worker to return to work before they’re ready or not to report an injury altogether. Once again, it’s best to let an attorney handle this conversation to document what is and isn’t said.