Gainesville Workers’ Compensation Lawyer

Suffering an injury at work can be stressful and daunting. However, Gainesville employees are typically eligible for workers’ compensation from the moment they become employed. Workers’ compensation is meant to protect employees who sustain injuries on the job. If symptoms prevent them from working, a worker can receive no-cost medical care and a wage benefit, while the employer gets protection from lawsuits related to the injury.

Unfortunately, this system does not always work smoothly. Some employers and their insurers prioritize profit over people, and they may use a variety of tactics to avoid paying legitimate claims. If you were injured while working, consult a dedicated lawyer at Smith Hulsey. One of our experienced legal advocates could help protect your rights and pursue all the compensation you deserve. En español

Which Employees are Eligible for Workers’ Compensation in Gainesville?

Although not all employers offer health insurance, the Official Code of Georgia Annotated §34-9-2 requires all employers with more than three employees to participate in the workers’ compensation program. This program provides no-cost treatment of all work-related injuries and a temporary disability benefit if an employee cannot work. Even part-time and probationary employees can receive workers’ compensation benefits. Additionally, when an employee is killed in a workplace accident, the employer’s insurance must provide the employee’s spouse and children with compensation.

Worker’s Comp Benefits

Workers’ compensation allows employees who become hurt on the job to receive the following benefits:

Workers’ compensation is a form of insurance for workers who are injured on the job. The state of Georgia administers the workers’ compensation program through the State Board of Workers’ Compensation.

Seeking Benefits for a Workplace Injury

Workers’ compensation is a government program that involves many rules and procedures. These regulations impact a worker’s ability to receive benefits as well as the amount of benefits they receive. Workers must submit a claim with the Board in order to begin the workers’ compensation application process. It is important for an injured Gainesville resident to work with a knowledgeable attorney to avoid errors that could endanger their workers’ comp benefits.

In general, an employee seeking these benefits must:

  • Report an injury to their employer immediately
  • Take a drug test after the injury if the employer requests it
  • Seek medical treatment from an employer-approved physician
  • Attempt to return to light-duty work if the physician authorizes it
  • Be truthful in all written and oral communications regarding the workers’ compensation claim

Additionally, workers’ compensation applicants should keep all receipts and discharge paperwork that relates to their on-the-job injury. These documents may become useful during the claim process.

Extended Workers’ Comp Benefits in Gainesville

If an injury heals completely, workers’ compensation benefits will only last for up to 400 weeks. However, if a work-related injury results in permanent impairment, the worker could receive permanent partial disability (PPD) benefits once their temporary benefits expire. The Workers’ Compensation Board has a chart that assigns a number of weeks of benefits for each injured body part. For example, complete loss of function in a thumb merits 60 weeks of benefits. If a doctor determines that the worker has lost 10% of their thumb’s functioning, they will receive permanent partial disability benefits for six weeks.

Permanent Partial Disability Benefits

To be eligible for PPD, a physician must certify the loss of function that the worker suffered. An employee can continue to receive workers’ compensation benefits after returning to work in the following situations:

  • The employee suffered a permanent partial disability while at work
  • The employee returned to work but makes less money than before his or her injury

In these situations, the employee might be entitled to partial income benefits for up to 350 weeks after the claim approval. The lawyers at Smith Hulsey Law can help you determine whether or not you are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits should you return to work.

Benefits for Catastrophic Injuries

If an injury renders a person permanently unable to work, benefits might continue indefinitely. This may apply for people who suffer qualifying catastrophic injuries, such as blindness in both eyes, loss of a limb, or loss of both hands or feet. If injuries do not meet the definition of catastrophic, a diligent local attorney could argue for extended workers’ compensation benefits by presenting evidence that a person is unable to resume work in any capacity due to their condition.

Fighting Denials of Workers’ Comp Claims

Sadly, employers and their insurance companies often prioritize saving money over allowing their injured employees to rest at home. Because of this, employees suffering from legitimate injuries might have to fend off aggressive attempts to force them back to work before they are ready.

There are multiple ways that insurers and employers could deny injured employees their rightful workers’ compensation benefits. At Smith Hulsey Law, we know all of the tactics insurance companies use to try to avoid paying employees benefits. These scenarios may include the following:

  • Insurance agencies claim that the injury is not serious enough to miss work
  • Employers accuse their employees of faking an on-the-job injury
  • Employers do not allow employees to choose a doctor to give a second opinion
  • Employers discourage employees from consulting with their own lawyer

To effectively combat the pushback and protect one’s rights, it is important for an injured Gainesville worker to retain a skilled lawyer when seeking workers’ compensation. We work with skilled doctors who verify our clients’ work-related injuries. Our lawyers know how to effectively negotiate with insurance companies who attempt to deny workers’ compensation benefits.

What Happens if Your Employer Fires You after Your Injury?

In Gainesville, employees may quit at will and employers may fire their employees at will. Unless an employee has a legal contract stating that the employer can only fire the employee for cause, the employer can fire that employee for any reason. An employer may have a legal right to fire an employee after his or her work-related injury. Nonetheless, employers whose employers fire them are still entitled to any workers’ compensation benefits for which they qualify.

What if an Employee Caused the Work-Related Injury?

The State Board of Workers’ Compensation handbook addresses this issue. When an employee’s inattentiveness or haste causes an accident, he or she may still qualify for workers’ compensation benefits. However, when the worker’s willful misconduct causes injury, he or she will not qualify for benefits. The following actions are often considered willful misconduct:

  • Horseplay
  • Fighting
  • Using drugs or alcohol

Call a Gainesville Workers’ Compensation Attorney to Fight for You

If you are recovering from a work-related injury, you might be concerned about your finances. Being out of work can be scary, especially if you do not know how long it will take to recover.

Call a Gainesville workers’ compensation lawyer to guide you throughout the process of filing for benefits. The legal team at Smith Hulsey is ready to lend you our strong support and help you recover from your injuries. Reach out today for a consultation.

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