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.
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.
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.
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.
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.