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It seems like an Atlanta workers’ compensation case should be fairly straightforward – if you get hurt at work, you get benefits, right?

Although workers’ compensation was designed to make things easier for employees who are injured on the job by taking the case out of the court system and providing for benefits that begin immediately after an injury or shortly thereafter, not every case is “easy.” Employers and their insurance companies may deny a claim based on one of several defenses available to them under the law, and, even if the claim is not denied, there may be disagreements about the nature and extent of the employee’s injury and vocational disability arising from it.

Which kinds of defenses do employers and insurance companies have in a workers’ compensation case?

tire treadQ: I was recently involved in a one-vehicle car wreck in Georgia. I’m still not sure exactly what happened, but I think something might have been wrong with my car. What should I do?

A: You should contact an experienced Atlanta auto accident attorney as soon as possible. In the meantime, it is extremely important that you preserve any and all evidence associated with the accident, including the vehicle itself.

Q: The car is totaled, and the storage fees are expensive. Why do I need to keep the car?

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I was hurt at work. How long will it take for me to start receiving workers’ compensation benefits?

That depends. In an Atlanta workers’ compensation case in which your employer and its insurance company agree that your claim is compensable, medical benefits are available as soon as you report your injury (although you will have to follow the rules requiring you to see a company doctor). You will become eligible for temporary total disability (TTD) benefits to partially replace your lost income after you have been off work for seven days.

How much will I receive in temporary total disability payments?

car accidentI was in a crash in Georgia recently, and it doesn’t look like the other driver had insurance. I asked for full coverage when I took out my policy, so I’m covered, right?

That depends upon what you mean by “full coverage.” Unfortunately, it sometimes takes a serious auto accident to drive home the importance of understanding exactly what is – and, more importantly, what is not – covered under one’s automobile accident insurance policy. You are only covered against damages caused by an uninsured motorist if your so-called “full coverage” includes uninsured motorist insurance (UM). It is not unusual for an injured person to discover, too late, that what they thought was complete coverage against losses suffered in a car accident did not actually include UM coverage.

How can I find out the type of coverage I have?

Q: I was hurt at work. Does my employer have to pay for my medical expenses?

A: This is a more complicated issue than it may initially seem. In an Atlanta workers’ compensation case, an employee may be entitled to paid medical care, but only if certain conditions are met, such as the employee giving the employer timely notice of the accident and seeing a physician who is authorized by the employer or its workers’ compensation carrier. 

Q: In my situation, I was hurt on the job a few weeks ago and immediately told my employer what happened. They sent me to the doctor, and everything seemed to be going fine until last week, when my doctor told me that I need surgery due to a herniated disc. My employer’s workers’ compensation carrier has refused to authorize the surgery. They say the surgery is related to a pre-existing condition – specifically, a previous work injury several years ago. To my knowledge, that old case was closed, and I didn’t receive anything other than temporary disability benefits and paid medical expenses for a few trips to the doctor back then. Is there anything I can do?

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Q: I was hurt because of somebody else’s negligence. How long do I have to sue?

A: While it’s always best to consult with an experienced Georgia personal injury attorney about your particular case, the general statute of limitations for filing a personal injury claim is two years under Georgia Code § 9-3-33. However, depending upon the type of case (and other factors), the time for making a claim could be significantly shorter.

Q: How does the type of case affect the time for filing suit?

questionQ: I hurt my back at work today while attempting to move a heavy piece of equipment. I didn’t tell anyone at work about it because I didn’t think it was that serious. Now that I am home, however, my back pain has gotten much worse. What should I do?

A: The first step in any Atlanta workers’ compensation claim is to give notice to one’s employer. There is also a claim form (called a WC-14 form, available online through the State Board of Workers’ Compensation website) that must be submitted in order to formally protect an employee’s legal rights.

Q: What happens after I give my employer notice that I was hurt?

shutterstock_477151726-300x200An injured worker in an Atlanta workers’ compensation case may be entitled to several types of benefits, including paid medical care. Of course, what exactly that “medical care” may entail varies widely from case to case.

For some employees, especially those with permanently, totally disabling work-related injuries, “medical care” may include in-home care – either by family members, professional nurses, or a combination thereof.

Facts of the Case

childcare workerThe question of whether a given employer is required to have Georgia workers’ compensation insurance on its employees can vary from state to state. The general rule is that individuals, corporations, or other entities that employ three or more people are required to carry coverage.

Of course, not every employer that is required to have coverage complies with the law. When a worker is hurt on the job, the employer then must pay the employee’s medical expenses and other workers’ compensation benefits out-of-pocket.

Facts of the Case

police carGenerally speaking, when an Atlanta car accident is caused by the negligence of someone who is “on the clock” with their employer, the employer can be held vicariously liable for the resulting injuries to the plaintiff.

There are some exceptions to this general rule, and the defendant in a given case may have a good argument that it should not be held liable under a certain set of facts. Even if vicarious liability is not possible, an injured person who is hurt by someone who is purportedly acting within their employment – or, at the least, is driving an automobile owned by their employer – may have another claim, such as negligent entrustment.

An appellate court in a recent case involving a police officer explored these different types of liability, ultimately concluding that some of the plaintiff’s claims had to be dismissed as redundant in that particular case.

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