Workers Compensation Laws
Although the majority of Georgians want to work and earn an honest living, sometimes on-the-job injuries can make it difficult, if not impossible. According to state reports, there were 31,977 workers compensation claims in the last recorded year. That’s about the equivalent of the entire population of Douglasville being out of work, or more than twice the population of Dallas, Georgia, having to take time off for recovery. Sadly, many never even return to the workforce, and those who try to muddle through despite setbacks have trouble doing so without the help of a personal injury lawyer. If you’ve been hurt, especially if your situation involves a catastrophic injury, there are some things you should know before you settle with the insurance company.
1. Workers Compensation Laws Vary By State
Each state has specific workers compensation laws that determine if an employer is required to have insurance to cover employee incidents, how much money a hurt employee can receive, how long benefits will be available for, and a myriad of other things. In Georgia, any person or business that employs three or more people is required to purchase insurance to cover them.
2. Georgia’s Compensation for Limbs, Ranks Amongst the Lowest in the Nation
Individual states also set caps on how much an employee will receive if he loses a limb. Pro Publica researched each state and ranked them all based on the rate for each limb. A Georgian who loses a hand at work receives $60,930 less than the national average, and $654,967 less than someone in the highest-paying state will.
3. Your Payments Have an Expiration, Even Though Your Disability Doesn’t
Although the state makes some allowances for catastrophic injuries, many payment schedules have cut-offs, regardless of whether the individual is capable of earning the same income or not. For instance, someone who loses an arm or leg in Georgia can only receive payments for up to 225 weeks. Despite the fact that the limb is gone forever, payments cease after about four years.
4. Your Lifelong Income Will Likely Suffer After Injury, Even if You Return to the Workforce
OSHA recently performed a study that showed people who are hurt on-the-job pick up about 50% of the costs associated with the injury. Even more concerning, is that 10 years after the incident, injured individuals make 15% less than they would have if the event had never occurred. For some people, it’s not a huge loss, but for much of the working-class, that 15% can mean the difference between being able to pay for electricity and food for their family.
5. Your Benefits Will Be Determined By Someone’s Opinion
If a worker loses a hand entirely, it’s almost a given that he will be eligible for the full benefit available, or $60,930. However, if that hand isn’t lost entirely, perhaps it was trapped and mangled in a machine, a doctor determines how much function has been lost. So, if a doctor determines that the hand’s functionality is only reduced by 25%, the payment will only be $15,232.50.
6. Your Decisions After an Injury Can Impact How You Are Compensated
Insurance companies generally try to settle on a fixed amount, especially when catastrophic injuries are involved. It’s in their best interest to do so, because they often pay out less this way. However, it’s at a cost to the injured worker, which is why it’s not always a good idea to settle. A personal injury lawyer can assist in the entire process, in navigating the medical opinion phase, and can help you earn fair reparations if you’ve been hurt on-the-job.
If you you have been hurt on the job and have a catastrophic injury and need help understanding Workers Compensation Laws in the state of Georgia contact us at McManes Law for a free legal consultation.