Do you really need to hire an attorney after a workplace injury in Georgia? Yes, and here’s why…
One question we are often asked by prospective clients is: Why should I hire a lawyer?
In this article, we’ll give 3 key reasons why you should hire an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer, particularly one at Gerber & Holder if you or a loved one are hurt in Georgia.
Simply put, these reasons are:
- There are many rules and regulations that have to be followed throughout the life of a workers’ compensation claim, and failure on your part to comply with any of these rules could lead to your forfeiture of benefits.
- Within the workers’ compensation system, there are certain avenues which can help you receive proper treatments and benefits that lawyers can assist you with. A lawyer can also assist you with enforcing your rights.
- The workers’ compensation carrier and their employer have lawyers working for them advocating for them at every step — you should too.
Let’s explore each of these reasons more in-depth below.
Reason #1: We understand workers’ compensation laws, rules and regulations inside and out
Workers’ compensation in Georgia is governed by statute. Specifically, O.C.G.A. 34-9 contains the governing laws, rules and regulations that apply to those who are injured on the job, as well as their employers and their workers’ compensation insurance. Additionally, case law helps define what is and isn’t allowed under these statutes. It’s a very nuanced area of the law.
For example, if you return to work with light duty restrictions for 15 days after you received temporary total disability benefits, and go out of work on the 15th day because you are in too much pain, then temporary total disability benefits have to be recommenced by law. However, if you work 16 days under the same circumstances and then go out of work because of the pain, you are not entitled to have your benefits started again.
There are numerous confusing situations just like this in the workers compensation system.
Because workers’ compensation is regulated by one specific statute, there are very strict guidelines that govern them. Hiring an attorney can ensure that you are meeting all of these requirements.
For instance, there is no real hard and fast statute of limitations for workers’ compensation claims like there are for personal injury claims. In a personal injury claim, you have 2 years to file suit. In a workers’ compensation case, you have as little as 30 days to provide notice, and only 1 year from the date of accident to file suit in certain situations.
Unless you have fully read and understand Georgia workers’ compensation statute and case laws, then you won’t know what you don’t know. What you may not know could have real world implications by significantly impacting your livelihood and your ability to receive proper medical attention and get back to work.
Workers’ compensation also has many rules which you have to comply with in order to receive benefits. If you are receiving benefits, your employer (or their workers’ compensation carrier) can provide the authorized treating physician with a job description and offer you a job if that doctor agrees that you should be able to perform it. If you do that job for only half a day and have to leave work because of pain, your benefits may not be recommenced. However, if you attempt to work for a full day (8 hours), they have to be recommenced.
It’s little details like this which you may not know that are so important in a workers compensation case and a reason that having an attorney is so important.
Reason #2: We can make sure you receive the best possible treatment
Attorneys can also help you stay on the offensive in your workers compensation case. Doctors are the gatekeepers of almost everything in workers’ compensation. They determine the work capabilities of the injured worker, determine what care is needed, and who should provide that care. Choosing the right doctor is imperative.
In a workers’ compensation claim, an injured worker is able to receive treatment from an authorized treating physician. An employer is required to have a posted panel of physicians who are authorized to treat an injured worker. Recently, we have seen the rise of industrial clinics in the workers’ compensation area. These clinics, such as Concentra, Urgent Care and others, are designed to quickly treat patients.
We have found that they rarely have the capability to adequately diagnose and treat those who have been seriously hurt on the job. Despite this fact, these clinics are often listed on workers’ compensation panels and employers often instruct their injured workers to visit these facilities. We’ve had numerous clients tell us that the industrial clinic is more focused on performing drug tests as opposed to treating their injury.
Hiring a workers’ compensation attorney can help you avoid these clinics and instead get treatment from a specialist, such as an orthopedic.
Reason #3: We will represent your best interests and skillfully negotiate with insurers
Finally, insurance companies have a plethora of lawyers working for them. Shouldn’t injured workers have the same resources available to them?
Even if the injured worker thinks that everything is going great and the insurance carrier is doing the right thing, events are proceeding based on the insurance carrier’s terms. They have protocols and teams of attorneys who have determined what the most efficient and cost effective way to handle a claim is. This means that your injury claim may be handled in a way that is disadvantageous to you.
Just because your claim is proceeding smoothly doesn’t mean that you are being made aware of all of your rights and entitlements.
An example of this is in the area of independent medical examinations (IMEs). If an injured worker has received indemnity benefits within the past 120 days, then they are entitled to an independent medical evaluation with a doctor of their choosing. Furthermore, the insurance carrier is required to pay for this evaluation and for any reasonable testing that this doctor requests. This information isn’t always told to the injured worker. Our attorneys can help you choose a doctor that is reputable and who will give you a non-biased opinion.
At Gerber & Holder, we have over 75 years of combined experience working in the workers’ compensation field. We are deeply familiar with many of the tactics that the workers’ compensation carrier will employ. We can assist you in both defeating the insurance company and avoiding potential pitfalls. Contact us if you have any questions about your workers’ compensation case.