Timing and Timelines for Workers’ Compensation Claims
If you have been injured on the job, you may be wondering how long it will take to get the benefits you deserve. Workers’ compensation is a complex system that involves many factors and deadlines. In this blog post, we will explain some of the common questions and issues that affect the timing and timelines of workers’ compensation claims in Georgia.
How long does a workers compensation claim take?
There is no definitive answer to this question, as every case is different and depends on the severity of the injury, the cooperation of the employer and the insurance company, the availability of medical evidence, and the need for litigation. However, some general steps and time frames can be outlined as follows:
Reporting the injury
You should report your injury to your employer as soon as possible, preferably within 30 days of the accident. This will help preserve your right to file a claim and avoid any delays or disputes.
Filing the claim
You have one year from the date of the injury to file a claim with the State Board of Workers’ Compensation (SBWC). You can do this by filling out a Form WC-14 and sending it to the SBWC and your employer. Alternatively, your employer or their insurance company may file a Form WC-1, which is an acknowledgment of your injury and an agreement to pay benefits.
If your claim is accepted, you should start receiving medical benefits immediately and income benefits within 21 days of your injury. Medical benefits cover all reasonable and necessary medical expenses related to your injury. Income benefits replace a portion of your lost wages, depending on the extent and duration of your disability.
Settling the claim
At some point, you may be offered a settlement by your employer or their insurance company. A settlement is a lump sum payment that closes your claim and releases them from any future liability. You should consult with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney before accepting any settlement offer, as it may affect your rights and future benefits.
How long do most workers comp cases last?
Again, this depends on many factors and varies from case to case. Some claims may be resolved within a few months, while others may take years. Some of the factors that can affect the duration of your case are:
The nature and extent of your injury
The more severe and complicated your injury is, the longer it may take to heal and reach maximum medical improvement (MMI). MMI is the point at which your condition is stable and unlikely to improve with further treatment. Your MMI will determine your permanent disability rating, which affects the amount and duration of your income benefits.
The cooperation of the parties
The more cooperative your employer and their insurance company are, the faster your claim may be processed and paid. However, if they deny or dispute your claim, you may have to go through hearings and appeals, which can prolong your case significantly.
The availability of evidence
The more evidence you have to support your claim, the stronger your case will be. Evidence may include medical records, witness statements, accident reports, photographs, videos, etc. You should gather as much evidence as possible and keep copies of everything related to your injury and claim.
The need for litigation
If your claim is denied or disputed, you have the right to request a hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ) of the SBWC. The hearing is similar to a trial, where both sides present their evidence and arguments. The ALJ will issue a decision within 30 days of the hearing. If you disagree with the decision, you can appeal to the Appellate Division of the SBWC within 20 days. If you are still dissatisfied, you can appeal to the Superior Court of Georgia within 30 days.
What is the longest you can be on workers comp?
The longest you can be on workers comp depends on the type and degree of your disability. There are four types of disability benefits in Georgia:
- Temporary total disability (TTD): This is when you are unable to work at all because of your injury. You will receive two-thirds of your average weekly wage (AWW), up to a maximum of $675 per week (as of July 1, 2019). You can receive TTD benefits for up to 400 weeks from the date of injury.
- Temporary partial disability (TPD): This is when you are able to return to work but at a lower-paying job or with reduced hours because of your injury. You will receive two-thirds of the difference between your pre-injury AWW and your post-injury AWW, up to a maximum of $450 per week (as of July 1, 2019). You can receive TPD benefits for up to 350 weeks from the date of injury.
- Permanent partial disability (PPD): This is when you have a permanent impairment or loss of function of a body part or organ because of your injury. You will receive a percentage of your TTD rate, based on a schedule that assigns a number of weeks to each body part or organ. For example, the loss of an arm is worth 225 weeks, the loss of an eye is worth 150 weeks, etc. You can receive PPD benefits for the number of weeks assigned to your impairment, up to a maximum of 300 weeks from the date of injury.
- Permanent total disability (PTD): This is when you are unable to perform any work because of your injury. You will receive the same rate as TTD benefits, but for the rest of your life.
How long does it take to file a workers comp claim in Georgia?
As mentioned above, you have one year from the date of injury to file a workers comp claim in Georgia. However, you should not wait until the last minute to do so, as this may jeopardize your claim and benefits. The sooner you file your claim, the sooner you can receive the medical care and income support you need. Moreover, filing your claim early can help prevent any disputes or delays from your employer or their insurance company.
Need help with that?
Workers’ compensation claims can be complicated and time-consuming, but they are also essential for protecting your rights and interests after a work-related injury. If you have any questions or concerns about your claim, you should consult with a qualified workers’ compensation attorney who can guide you through the process and advocate for your best outcome. At John Morrison Law, we have the experience and expertise to handle all types of workers’ compensation cases in Georgia. Contact us today for a free consultation and let us help you get the compensation you deserve.