Answers from Our Atlanta Workers’ Compensation Attorney
Were you injured on the job? Atlanta Workers’ Compensation Attorney Jeffrey S. Gilbert has more than 30 years of experience and an extensive track record of stellar success in his field – particularly in the area of catastrophic injuries. These cases regularly settle in the six to seven figure range. Whether by motivating insurance companies to settle or by achieving outstanding results in court, he knows how to achieve the highest possible payout for your injuries. Attorney Gilbert has the level of legal familiarity and professional excellence necessary to ensure that you receive the relentless advocacy your case deserves. If you have been injured at work and have questions about workers’ compensation, read these answers to questions we commonly receive or contact the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Gilbert to schedule a free case evaluation.
Workers’ Compensation FAQ
What is workers’ compensation?
Nearly all employers in Georgia are required to have workers’ compensation insurance to cover any damages that their employees suffer at work. When an employee is injured while performing his or her job, the employee can approach the employer and file a workers’ compensation claim. The employer’s insurance will then compensate the injured worker for damages such as medical bills and lost wages. Workers’ compensation is not a welfare or give-away benefit system. It is an alternative to the personal injury system in which workers give up the right to sue for pain and suffering in exchange for more certain but limited specified benefits. It is possible, however, for someone to read the statute and still not realize the full expanse of potential benefits available. There are many gray-area benefits that can make the system anything but paltry.
Am I eligible for workers’ compensation?
Simply, if you are injured and that injury is in any way connected to work, regardless of whether it is your fault, you may be eligible and need to at least confirm it with a lawyer. As a general rule, you should assume compensability and contact an attorney right away. Speak with the Atlanta workers’ compensation lawyer about your situation to make sure that you qualify.
How do I file for workers’ compensation in Georgia?
After a workplace accident, you have certain minimum obligations. First, you must report the incident to your supervisor within 30 days. In order to be out of work, you generally need a release or restrictions from a physician; therefore, you should seek immediate medical attention. If the employer has a posted panel of physicians who conform to the statute, then – with the exception of an emergency room – you must go to a doctor on this panel. You are actually not required to file a claim for one year. If there is no panel posted or the panel is defective, you may be able to go to a physician of your choice rather than the company doctor. This is a complex area of law. If you make assumptions, you could severely hurt the value of your case. There are many nuances, exceptions, and complex strategies in play; therefore, Mr. Gilbert feels that you should retain an attorney early on in all cases.
Can I have both a personal injury case and a workers’ compensation case?
Generally speaking, the employer is immune – however, if the accident was caused by something or someone else at work or while on the job (i.e., on the road), then the answer is “maybe.” The world outside of workers’ compensation is controlled by negligence principles. If you can demonstrate that you were injured by the negligence of a third party – whether the manufacturer of a tool or the driver of a truck – then you certainly have the potential to recover separate damages, including some damages foreclosed by the workers’ compensation statute. Missing these claims is a common area of lawyer malpractice. Mr. Gilbert investigates the possibility for third-party claims in all cases.
Do you handle Social Security Disability Insurance cases?
While Attorney Jeff Gilbert is not a Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) lawyer, he does work with a select few attorneys and non-lawyer SSDI representatives who are at the top of their field. If your situation parallels an SSDI matter, Mr. Gilbert may be able to help you. If your case does not fit his business model, he can save you the trouble of finding an attorney on your own by referring you to a capable and respected professional who can handle your claim effectively. He does this simply because an award of SSDI could greatly help your workers’ compensation case, which is Mr. Gilbert’s top priority. Please note that in order to maximize their incentive, Mr. Gilbert does not receive referral fees from his SSDI colleagues. He chooses to only refer attorneys who he judges to be the best. Because of this, you need not worry about being referred to the highest bidder or golf buddy.
Do I need to hire a lawyer for workers’ compensation?
Yes, yes, and yes. Whether you choose to retain Mr. Gilbert or someone else, having a workers’ compensation attorney by your side immediately is invaluable in complex cases. This is not a self-serving answer. If you want further explanation, contact Mr. Gilbert at no cost to discuss why you need an attorney to handle your case.
But the insurance company said I don’t need a lawyer because “they will take care of me” and that if I get a lawyer, they will stop being so nice!
Insurance companies have one – and only one – overriding motive: to pay you only the minimum they are legally required to pay. If you let them, these companies may prey on your ignorance and not even pay their legal obligation. Remember, an attorney’s foremost job is to advise clients of their legal rights. If the insurance company was truly taking care of you, why would they object to you simply confirming your rights? In some cases, you may be able to retain Mr. Gilbert without the insurer knowing until absolutely necessary. In short, the employer / insurer is adversarial to you the moment you are hurt. Even the most friendly employer or owner will ultimately have to bend to their own interest in profitability. If they are truly interested in getting you all you deserve, they will welcome a lawyer, not resist your efforts to hire one. Beware of the wolf in sheep’s clothing.
My friend told me that I should wait until my workers’ compensation case is ready to settle before I hire a lawyer. Is that correct?
No. You need a good lawyer and you need one now. There are several good reasons for retaining legal counsel. First, be aware that – no matter when you hire your lawyer – you must pay him or her the same board-regulated fee of 25 percent whenever your case settles. That could take six months, a year, or longer. In the meantime, why would you not want to have an attorney handling all the day-to-day frustrations such as declined prescriptions and late checks? In fact, many lawyers love it when their clients put off hiring them until the end of a case because it means that they have to do none of the grunt work and, by simply making a few phone calls, earn the same fee. Mr. Gilbert does not like being called in late because he does not wholesale cases. His first priority is the success of your case, and this is not achieved if you wait to retain legal counsel.
When an attorney is called in late, several things have already occurred. First, it means that the insurer has been riding roughshod on your case while posturing for its lowest value. Insurance companies do this by restricting your medical benefits, securing unfavorable reports and work releases, hiding benefits, and avoiding necessary or beneficial treatments and modalities. For example, why would they volunteer to tell you that you are entitled to receive an adaptive hunting tree stand?
Second, when you wait to hire an attorney, this means that you have not been countering the insurance company’s strategies, supporting and insisting upon all the extra benefits, and positioning your case to establish its maximum value. It is much harder to resolve a case for full value if it has been manipulated by the insurer for a long time. In such cases, the lawyer must either accept the wholesale value or attempt to undo what the insurer has done. This process is not only more difficult but can take months if not more to resurrect the case. Sometimes in these types of cases, a record is established that can’t be undone. As a result, retaining a lawyer early on and obtaining the benefits of both housekeeping and case building is absolutely critical to the overall success of your claim.
Call our firm for your free case evaluation today!
If you still have unanswered questions, you can receive answers from a knowledgeable professional during a free consultation if you call our Atlanta office today. We have extensive experience handling all types of workers’ compensation and personal injury cases. At the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Gilbert, our number one goal is to obtain the highest settlement possible so that you have the best chance of getting your life back. Don’t wait. Act now to receive the strong and effective advocacy you deserve from an Atlanta workers’ compensation attorney who can maximize your payout.