If you get hurt on the job, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation wage (indemnity) benefits for temporary total and temporary partial disability.
After a workplace injury, you may be placed on work restrictions by the authorized treating physician. This is the first requirement for receiving indemnity benefits. The second requirement is that your employer cannot offer work within those restrictions — or the authorized treating physician has totally disabled you, meaning you aren’t allowed to work.
These restrictions must come from the authorized treating physician, not your own personal doctor. The authorized doctor is paid by the workers’ compensation carrier. While Georgia workers have some rights in choosing their authorized treating physician, it’s important to understand that you can’t be diagnosed from just any doctor.
There are ways to change workers’ compensation doctors and use the information that your personal doctor gave you. The experienced attorneys at Gerber & Holder can help you with this, but it may require litigation and going to court.
Georgia workers’ compensation disability benefits
When the authorized treating physician has taken you totally out of work for more than 7 days, you are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits based upon calculations we’ll explain below. There’s a 21-day waiting period before you may start receiving TTD or TPD benefits, but you are entitled to them.
Temporary Total Disability (TTD) benefits
The best way to calculate how much weekly benefits you’re entitled to is to take your average weekly wage total of the 13 weeks prior to your injury and divide by 13. Then, calculate two-thirds of that weekly average. This number is your workers’ compensation rate.
(Note: The maximum benefits you can receive per week as of July 1, 2019 is $675.)
Not all workers’ compensation cases are this easy, though.
For example, what if you weren’t working for the company where you were injured for the full 13 weeks prior to your injury? There are different methods we can use to determine your average weekly if that’s the case. One method is to take the wages of a similarly situated employee to determine what you would have made. Another method is to divide the total you made by the actual number of hours you worked.
If you are placed on work restrictions and your employer cannot accommodate them, then you’re eligible for indemnity benefits. Two things need to occur in this scenario:
- The authorized treating physician must place you on restrictions
- The employer must not be able to offer you work within these restrictions.
This isn’t a decision that you, the injured employee, can make unilaterally. There has to be a definitive statement by the employer that they cannot accommodate the work restrictions the doctor ordered.
We have many clients tell us that they “know” that their employer doesn’t offer light duty work. Often, though, employers can create light duty jobs for injured workers, which might be totally different than what the injured worker’s primary job was.
Once you receive temporary total disability benefits, your legal status changes and you’re entitled to numerous other rights under Georgia’s workers’ compensation statute. Some examples of this are the right to an independent medical examination with a doctor of your own choosing and the right to have all jobs offered by your employer approved by the authorized treating physician.
An injured worker is eligible for TTD disability benefits for up to 400 weeks in Georgia (if their case is not catastrophic).
Temporary Partial Disability (TPD) benefits
If you were injured on the job and are performing light duty work within your doctor-prescribed restrictions but earning less than before your injury, then you’re entitled to TPD benefits. The amount you’re owed may fluctuate on a weekly basis depending on your income.
The best way to calculate how much your owed in TPD benefits is to determine what your pre-injury average weekly wage is (take your average weekly wage total of the 13 weeks prior to your injury and divide by 13) and subtract it from your current weekly earnings. You are entitled to two-thirds (⅔) of that amount.
(Note: As with TTD benefits, there’s a cap on what you may be owed. As of July 1, 2019, the cap on TPD benefits is set at $450 per week.)
An injured worker is eligible for TPD benefits for up to 350 weeks in Georgia.
Why hire a Georgia workers’ compensation lawyer
If your employer refuses to start paying TTD or TPD benefits or you wish to calculate your average weekly wage, then contact our experienced Georgia workers’ compensation lawyers. We can ensure you receive maximum wage loss benefits and clearly explain your legal options.