If you ever suffer a workplace injury, you owe it to yourself to report it right away. Our Atlanta workers comp attorneys understand why you may be hesitant to do so. However, you need to protect your rights the best way you can. Here, we will explain the early stages of the workers’ compensation process in Atlanta, Georgia.
Legally, You Must Report Your Workplace Injury Within 30 Days
If you expect to be approved for workers’ compensation, you need to make sure you report your injury right away. Technically, you have thirty days to do this. However, there’s never a good reason to wait that long.
Our workers’ compensation attorneys in Atlanta suggest that any worker who’s injured on the job report their injuries that same day. Even if you think your injury is minor, you can’t afford to wait the full thirty days.
Why Do Some Workers Wait to Report Their Workplace Injuries?
Over the years, our Atlanta workers comp attorneys have learned why so many people wait to report their workplace injury. Most of them simply don’t take their injuries all that seriously.
Some of the other common reasons include:
- They’re afraid they’ll get fired.
- They can’t afford to lose a paycheck.
- Their company has a history of denying workers’ compensation claims.
- There were no witnesses.
Regardless of the reason, it’s never a good idea to put off reporting your injury. The longer you wait, the greater the chance your claim will be denied.
Your Employer Must Meet Certain Deadlines as Well
While you must report your injury within 30 days, your employer has deadlines to meet as well. For example, they must report any serious workplace injuries to OSHA within 21 days. If they fail to do so, they will be penalized.
In addition, your employer has to submit your claim to the insurance company immediately. This is because the insurance company will also be required to respond in a certain period of time.
What Happens After You Notify Your Employer That You’ve Been Injured?
Once you report your injury to your manager or Human Resources Department, you need to seek medical treatment immediately. Once you submit to the mandatory drug test, your employer will arrange transport to the local hospital.
If your injuries don’t require immediate medical treatment, they may allow you to go home for the day and see the doctor the following day. However, it is rare that an employer would expose themselves to liability this way.
You Only Have One Year to File Your Claim
Imagine that you reported your injury to your employer on June 1, 2023. You will have until May 31, 2024, to file your workers’ compensation claim. If you fail to do this, your claim will be denied.
This is another reason for you to hire an Atlanta workers comp attorney. They’ll make sure your claim is filed in plenty of time. They will also follow up to see what the insurance company’s decision is.
Make Sure You Send a Copy of Your WC-14 Form to Your Employer, The Insurance Company, and the SBWC
To file your claim, you need to submit a completed WC-14 form to the insurance company. This form is going to require that you provide the following information:
- Name and contact information
- Employer’s information
- A detailed account of what happened
- Description of your injuries
When your workers’ compensation attorney in Atlanta submits your form, they need to send a copy to the State Board of Workers Compensation, your employer, and their insurance carrier.
Your Atlanta Workers Comp Attorney Will Also Try to Negotiate a Settlement
It’s important to know that, even at this early stage, your Atlanta workers comp attorney will try to negotiate a settlement. If your injuries are minor, they will probably wait to see if you’ll need future medical treatment.
If, however, your injuries are serious, your workers compensation attorney in Atlanta will anticipate a partial or total disability. This is why they’ll try to negotiate a settlement early so your claim doesn’t drag out for months or even years.
Your Employer’s Insurance Company Has 21 Days to Respond
Once the insurance carrier receives your claim, they will have 21 days to respond. During this time, they will conduct their investigation. Once their investigation is complete, they will issue something called, “Employer’s First Report of Injury or Occupational Disease.”
A copy of this form will be sent directly to your workers’ compensation attorney in Atlanta. This form is critical because it communicates the insurance company’s decision. Once your lawyer sees this form, they’ll have a better idea of how to best proceed.
The Insurance Company Has 3 Options
When you receive the insurance company’s report, it will contain the following information:
- Identification information for the employee and employer
- Insurance carrier information
- Employee’s wage information
- The type of injury or illness
- Whether the claim has been approved, denied, or approved for medical care only
You’ll note that there are only three options for the insurance adjuster to choose from. There is also the possibility that they will request additional time to make a decision. However, since they have ample time to do this, any request of this nature would probably be denied.
If Your Claim is Approved, You’ll Receive Medical Care and Weekly Benefits
Obviously, if your workers’ comp claim is approved, you should start receiving your benefits shortly. Your benefits will not start until you have missed seven days from work. If you end up being out of work for at least 21 days, you will receive retroactive benefits for that first seven-day period.
If your claim is denied, your Atlanta workers comp attorney can file an appeal on your behalf.
What Happens if Your Claim is Denied?
Unfortunately, there is a chance your claim may be denied. On average, about 7-10% of all workers comp claims are denied initially. If this happens, your Atlanta workers comp attorney will have to file an appeal.
Don’t Wait Too Long to Retain an Experienced Workers Compensation’ Attorney in Atlanta
One of the biggest mistakes some workers make is they wait too long to report their injuries. They may think their injury is minor and will heal itself over time. Other workers don’t know what they’re supposed to do. This is why it’s best to call an Atlanta workers comp attorney immediately.
Once you come into the office for your free, initial consultation, you’ll have a better idea of what to expect. Your workers’ compensation attorney in Atlanta will be by your side throughout the workers’ compensation process. They’ll help protect your rights and make sure you don’t get overwhelmed.