If you got hurt on the job or have a work-related illness, you might be eligible to file for workers’ compensation (WC) benefits through your employer’s WC benefits. The employer pays for and provides this coverage, not you.
How to Find Out if Your Boss Carries Workers’ Compensation Insurance
If your employer has at least three workers, which can include regular part-time employees, your boss likely has to participate in Georgia’s workers’ compensation program. You can verify coverage using this online look-up tool.
Scroll to the bottom of the web page and select “Click here to conduct an Employer Insurance Coverage Search.” After you verify that you are not a robot and you agree to the site’s terms, you will need to type in the date of the accident or illness and your employer’s name.
If your boss has coverage, the policy number will appear in the search results. When you click on the policy number, the website will give you the name of your employer’s WC insurance company and the policy number that applied to the date you entered.
What to Do if Your Employer Should Carry WC Coverage but Does Not
If you find out through the online look-up tool that your boss does not provide workers’ compensation coverage, you can call the Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation at the Coverage Section, using local number (404) 656-3692 or toll-free at (800) 743-5436. The Coverage Section will tell you if your employer is exempt from coverage or is approved for self-insurance.
If your boss is self-insured, the company will not have a WC policy through an insurance company. Self-insured companies pay WC benefits directly, “out of pocket.”
If your employer is not self-insured, covered by a WC insurance policy, or exempt from the requirement of providing workers’ compensation coverage, but does not have WC coverage, the Workers’ Compensation Enforcement Division wants you to contact them. You can call (404) 657-7285 or (800)743-5436. Companies can face civil fines of up to $5,000 per violation and criminal penalties of up to a year in prison if they do not provide the required WC coverage.
First Steps to File for Workers’ Compensation Benefits
You need to contact your employer right away after an accident on the job. You could lose your right to benefits if you do not report the incident within the first 30 days.
Your boss will give you information about the medical care providers you can use. You cannot go to your regular doctor for treatment of the injury or illness. If you go to an unapproved health care professional or facility, your employer’s WC insurance will not pay those bills, and you could get stuck with having to pay medical bills with your own money.
WC Health Care Providers
Your boss has two options for the health care professionals and facilities that you can use for a covered work-related accident. Your employer can post either one of these items:
- A list of at least six doctors from which you can choose. There must be at least one orthopedic doctor on the list. There can only be one or two industrial clinics listed.
- Instead of individual doctors, your boss can contract with a Workers’ Compensation Managed Care Organization (WC/MCO) to provide your medical care. Your employer has to tell you the eligible health care providers and give you the 24-hour toll-free telephone number for the WC/MCO. A representative at the MCO will help you schedule an appointment with the medical care provider you choose from their network.
Medical Care That Workers’ Compensation Can Provide
Georgia’s Workers’ Compensation program requires employers to cover these authorized expenses for work-related injuries and illnesses:
- Doctor bills
- Hospital bills
- Physical therapy
- Prescription drugs
- Necessary travel expenses
The WC program can pay for up to 400 weeks of medical treatment after the accident date. If you sustained a catastrophic injury, you might be eligible for lifetime medical benefits.
Lost Wages and Worker’s Compensation Benefits
If your illness or injury keeps you out of work for less than seven days, you will not collect WC weekly cash benefits to help replace your lost income. If you miss more than seven days of work, you can get weekly benefits.
If you miss more than 21 days in a row, you can get compensation for the first seven days you missed as well as subsequent missed days. Your first check gets mailed about three weeks after your first missed day.
You can get two-thirds of your average weekly wage while you are unable to work at all. Your weekly benefits cannot exceed $575.00. If you go back to work but have to take a lower-paying job because of your injury, you can get weekly benefits to offset some of the difference between your previous income and your current, reduced income. There are limits on how long you can get benefits, unless your injury was catastrophic.
Other Workers’ Compensation Benefits
You can get benefits for permanent impairment from your injuries or if you lose a part of your body, like a hand or leg. Georgia’s WC program pays death benefits to eligible survivors of workers who lose their lives as a result of work-related illness or injuries.
At S. Burke Law, we care about injured workers and their families. We will give your workers’ compensation case the personalized attention that you deserve. Call us today at 404-842-7838, for a free consultation.