Know your workers’ compensation rights and responsibilities after a workplace injury or occupational illness. In nearly all cases, an employee who is injured on the job in Georgia — or one who suffered a disability or disease related to their job — should be eligible to receive some level of benefits through the Georgia workers’ compensation system. These benefits can include reimbursement for medical treatment, rehabilitation support, lost wages and supplemental income if you suffer an injury or fall ill as a result of a work-related accident. In the case of death, a person’s dependents may also be eligible to claim certain benefits. While fault is typically not a factor in receiving Georgia workers’ comp benefits, you must demonstrate a certain level of responsibility by following a number of steps after an injury or illness is discovered.

1. Report the injury

Report the accident to a supervisor as soon as possible and preferably in writing. Telling a coworker who isn’t a manager or supervisor isn’t sufficient. If you wait more than a month to report the injury, you may lose the opportunity to receive full benefits.

2. Obtain medical treatment

Make an appointment with an approved doctor as soon as possible following a workplace injury or accident. If you must go to the doctor in the evening or on the weekend, go to your nearest hospital or to your family doctor. Your employer and their workers’ comp insurance company must pay for emergency treatment regardless of whether or not there is a list of doctors posted (more on this below). Follow the instructions of the medical professional. It’s very important that you attend all appointments and follow all work restrictions that you are given.

3. Get list of approved doctors

Your employer should give you a list of approved doctors (known as the “panel of physicians”) that you are allowed to see. If you don’t receive this list, ask your supervisor or the HR department to provide one. If a list isn’t provided within a reasonable timeframe, you can go to the doctor of your choice. If there is a posted list and you don’t go to a doctor on that list, your employer and its insurance company can use this as a reason to deny you workers’ comp benefits.

4. File claim with Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation

To protect your rights and file a claim, you’ll need to complete Form WC-14, file it with the State Board of Workers’ Compensation, and send a copy to your employer and their workers’ compensation insurance carrier. You may download and complete a free PDF of the form online, or request a copy from the State Board by calling 404-656-3818 inside the metro Atlanta area or 1-800-533-0682 outside the metro Atlanta area. There are some exceptions to this rule, which we can discuss with you during your consultation.

5. Request a copy of the report and/or notes

Ask your employer for a copy of the report they filed with their insurance company. Also be sure to save a copy of the Form WC-14 you filed with the State Board. If your supervisor will not make a written report, you should make a report for your own files.

6. Update your employer

If your doctor excuses you from work or gives you work restrictions, get this in writing and give it to your employer. Keep a copy for yourself. If the doctor excuses you from work indefinitely, find out from your employer how frequently your employer wants you to call in. Comply with those requirements. If you are unable to work, make sure the insurer knows that, too.

7. Make sure the insurer is informed

Make sure the insurer is aware of your injury. Most employers have workers’ compensation insurance with another company that will handle the claim. The insurer cannot help you unless it knows about your injury. Make sure that your personnel or HR department has sent the first report of injury to the insurer. You can verify this with the insurer. Ask your employer for the name and telephone number of the insurer — and the name of the person who is handling your claim (the “adjuster”). You can speak directly with the adjuster. If you cannot get this information from your company, call the Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation Coverage Department at 404-656-3692 for the name of your company’s insurer, then notify the insurance company yourself.

8. Talk to an attorney

Last but not least, if you believe you should file a workers’ compensation claim, contact an experienced lawyer at the The Orlando Firm. As diligent and dedicated Atlanta personal injury lawyers with over 33 years of combined experience, we have helped injured workers like you overcome a variety of common workers’ compensation obstacles.