Your First Meeting With A Workers’ Compensation Lawyer

If you need help a lawyer’s help with your workers’ compensation claim, here are a few tips that will make your first encounter as productive and smooth as possible.

  1. Call First.  Not simply to make an appointment, but to talk to the attorney.  Any attorney worth his or her salt will make the time for a brief phone consultation to give you an idea of the services he or she can provide you.  This conversation often serves to narrow the issues you are having with your claim and the attorney can instruct what you can do in the time between the phone call and your meeting.
  1. Bring Everything Related to your Claim to the Meeting.   Lots of paperwork seems to follow any work injury: accident reports, letters to and from your employer or the insurance company, medical records and bills, and on and on.  I appreciate when a client comes into my office with a file folder overflowing with papers.
  1. But Be Prepared to Tell What Happened in Your Own Words.  No one knows more about your injury than you do.  For that reason, be prepared to tell the facts surrounding your employment and your injury.  There are certain specific things the attorney will need to know, and you’ll likely be asked lots of questions.  It is helpful, though, to hear your story in your own way because each individual and each injury is unique and a seemingly insignificant part of your story can have potentially important legal implications.
  1. Understand How You’ll Be Paying the Attorney.  First meetings, what we call initial consultations, are free for most attorneys.  If you hire an attorney to represent you, you will pay that attorney a contingency fee, meaning that you will pay the attorney a percentage of any recovery that attorney is able to get for you.   In Georgia that fee is limited to 25% for all workers’ compensation cases.

If you have questions about your work injury and would like to meet with me, please call me at (706)234-1300 for an initial phone consultation and to schedule a free meeting to discuss your case.

Limitations on Workers’ Compensation Benefits

As with all things in this world, there are limitations to Georgia Workers’ Compensation income benefits.  It is important to know these limitations so that you know what you are entitled to and for how long.

Medical Benefits:  In almost all workers’ compensation claims, medical benefits last 400 weeks from the date you were injured at work.  The only circumstance medical benefits go beyond 400 weeks is if you are found to be catastrophically injured (e.g.: blindness, amputation, paralysis, and a few other circumstances I will discuss fully in a later blog post).

Weekly Income Benefits:  Income benefits are also limited to 400 weeks.  However, If your authorized treating physician says you can return to light duty work, your Employer can shorten the time you are eligible for income benefits to 350 weeks.

Weekly income benefits, like medical benefits, can be extended beyond 400 weeks only in the rare instance you are found catastrophically injured.

Of course, there are countless other instances where your benefits are stopped before you reach any of the time constraints listed above.  Two quick examples are (1) if you recover from your injury back to the condition you were in before and (2) if your doctor says that you can return to work with no restrictions.

If your medical benefits or your weekly checks have been suspended and you have questions, feel free to call me at (706) 234-1300.

Work Comp Terms: TTD (temporary total disability)

Your employer or the workers’ compensation insurance company may use terms and abbreviations you do not know when discussing your workers’ compensation claim.  It’s important to know these terms and what they mean for your claim.  This post is the first in a series of posts explaining often used terms in Georgia workers’ compensation claims.

Temporary total disability, or TTD, is a type of income benefit you may be entitled to if you are injured at work.  The acronym “TTD” is often used when talking about temporary total disability benefits.

If you are injured at work, and your injury keeps you from working, you may be entitled to a weekly benefit in the amount of two-thirds (⅔) of what you were making before your injury.

This benefit is known as temporary total disability benefit.  It is “temporary” because you are only entitled to the benefit for a maximum period of 400 weeks in Georgia.  “Total disability” means you are not able to earn anything because of your on the job injury.  It is important to note that “total disability” does not mean you are completely, 100% physically disabled from doing anything, only that you are not able to earn any money because of your injury.

If you are out of work because of a work injury and are not drawing a weekly benefit, call an attorney to learn what you may be entitled to draw.

What To Do If I Am Injured on The Job?

Knowing what to do when you are injured on the job can mean the difference between being successful in your workers’ compensation claim and being left without any medical treatment or income benefits while you recover.   Here are the first things you should do if you sustain a work injury:

  1. REPORT YOUR INJURY

The first and most important thing you can do is immediately report your injury.  Report your injury, in detail, to your supervisor.

Don’t assume that your injury will resolve itself so there is no need to report it.  Even if it seems minor, report your injury anyway.  We’ve all had an injury that seemed much worse the next day.  Your Employer or its workers’ compensation insurance company can and likely will use against you the fact that you did not report the injury immediately.

 

  1. GO SEE A DOCTOR

 

Your Employer is required by law to have a list of doctors that you can choose from if you are injured at work.  See a doctor from this list

 

Not every employer has the required list of doctors.  If your Employer does not have this list, see a doctor on your own for your injury.  Under Georgia law, if your Employer does not have the required panel, it can be compelled by a judge to pay the doctor you choose to treat your work injury.

 

  1. TELL THE DOCTOR IT IS A WORK INJURY

 

When you see a doctor for your injury, whether it is a doctor from the Employer’s list or your own, make sure you tell the doctor you were injured on the job.

 

First, and most importantly, an accurate description of what happened will help the doctor to diagnose and treat you in the best manner possible.

Second, what you tell a doctor will likely find its way into his notes, so it is vitally important that you make clear how and where your injury happened.  The information you provide as to the cause of your injury will be examined in any evaluation and, if it comes to it, trial of your claim.