The goal of the Workers’ Compensation Law is to provide medical, rehabilitation and income benefits to injured workers to help them return to work. The rules and regulations needed to attain that goal have spawned a sprawling, complicated system that can seem impossible to successfully maneuver. The determination of what exactly constitutes “at work,” the medical evaluation, and the calculation of benefits are just a few of the major topics that can cause confusion.
In Georgia, any worker hurt on the job who misses more than seven days due to an injury and is determined by an authorized treating physician to be “unable to work” is entitled to weekly Temporary Total Disability income benefits. Workers may receive two-thirds of their average weekly wage, but not more than $550 per week for an accident which occurred on or after July 1, 2015. If the non-catastrophic accident occurred on or after July 1, 1992, benefits can be awarded for up to 400 weeks. Benefits are unlimited for catastrophic injuries.
Employees who receive a light-duty release from their doctor while out of work get a 15-working-day grace period to allow an attempt to perform a light-duty job without fear of losing benefits if they can’t handle the duties. If a light-duty job is not available and an employee remains out of work in a light-duty status for 52 consecutive weeks, income benefits are reduced automatically from the Temporary Total Disability benefit to the maximum eligible Temporary Partial Disability benefit.
The workers’ compensation insurance company cannot stop paying benefits unless a judge approves or orders the stoppage, or if the worker signs a legal document agreeing to it. This is why it is very important to not sign any document without first having an attorney review it. If your eligible weeks are not up and you haven’t received any notice why benefits have suddenly stopped, contact an attorney immediately to discuss reinstatement. An attorney should also be consulted before accepting a final settlement from the insurer or if you receive a petition seeking to modify the benefits. If your doctor is of the opinion that you are ready to return to work but you disagree, talk with a lawyer before you lose your coverage.
If you have any questions about this topic, or if you think your workers’ compensation benefits have been wrongly terminated, we can help. The Mann Law Firm has more than 50 years of experience in representing clients in Georgia workers’ compensation claims. Contact us today by calling (478) 742-3381 in Macon, Dublin, Warner Robbins or Milledgeville, or through our online form. We have the knowledge and the expertise to ensure that your rights are fully protected.