Workplace Injury Lawyer Atlanta GA
Workplace Injury Lawyer Atlanta GA: Crucial Questions to Ask Workers Comp Attorneys.
If you are an employee who has suffered a work-related injury or illness, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation. Unfortunately, employers or their insurance companies may deny workers’ comp claims, even when they are legitimate—which leaves injured employees to face a complex appeals system. At that point, most claimants simply give up, while others try their best to navigate the appeals system on their own. Did you know that the average workers’ compensation case takes around 16 months – 1 year and 4 months – to settle? It can be one of the most stressful experiences in your career. The uncertainty of it all. The fact that you and your family’s financial stability depends on it. It can sometimes feel like too large of a burden to bear. That is why it is essential to find the right workplace injury lawyer Atlanta GA to represent you. Hiring an experienced, professional, reputable, and dedicated workers’ compensation attorney will give you a much better chance of obtaining the compensation benefits that you deserve.
But the big question is how do you find the right attorney to hire to represent you? Remember, pursuing workers’ compensation can be a long process, and may leave you confused.
Here are some crucial questions that you should ask workplace injury attorneys to help you choose the right one to handle your claim/case. Be sure to ask them all as you search for your lawyer.
Who Do You Think Is Responsible for My Injury?
Many workers’ compensation cases, and personal injury cases, aren’t pursued because the injured employee feels that if their employer wasn’t at fault, there is no one to blame. That couldn’t be further from the truth.
For example, say you were injured on the work floor when a forklift malfunctioned and dropped a heavy box on top of your foot. Most workers think “it was an unlucky accident” when, in reality, it may have been due to the negligence of a manufacturer.
In fact, several different parties might be at fault for your injury. It could be due to a negligent coworker, a negligent building owner, or faulty manufacturing.
During your consultation/case review, tell a workers’ comp attorney your entire story and ask him/her who he/she thinks might be at fault for your injury. From there, you can work to gather evidence to support your case.
Does My Accident Qualify for Workers’ Comp?
Perhaps you are wondering if your injury or accident even qualifies you for workers’ compensation. Maybe you are curious if it is severe enough to warrant legal action. If so, then you should ask the attorney for their input.
Many common workplace accidents qualify for workers’ compensation benefits, including:
- Struck-Against Injuries
- Slips and Falls
- Struck-By Injuries
- Falling Injuries
- Repetitive Motion Injuries
- Electrocution Accidents
- Motor Vehicle Accidents
- Confrontation Injuries
Workers’ compensation-related injuries and illnesses include:
- Broken Bones
- Torn Ligaments
- Mental Trauma
- Airborne Illnesses
- Spinal Injuries
- Soft Tissue Injuries
- Brain Injuries
- Depression & More
When you describe your situation and illnesses/injuries to a workplace injury lawyer Atlanta GA, he/she will put you into the category that best describes your accident. This will dictate how you go about gathering the evidence and building your case.
Do You Have Experience Handling Workplace Injury Cases?
This is a vital part of finding the right lawyer for your case. Experience is the number one teacher in the world of law. You want to make sure your attorney has years of practice in workplace injury cases before he/she handles your case (and livelihood).
Ask any lawyer that you talk to about how many workers’ comp cases he/she has handled in the past. You can also ask these follow-up questions:
- How many of those cases had similar injuries to mine?
- How long did the settlement take for their specific cases?
- How much compensation did you have them pursue? Did they get it?
- Do you specialize in personal injury cases?
- What is the longest that a settlement has taken for a client you represented?
- Have any of the workers’ comp cases you have represented gone to trial?
Don’t be afraid to share specific details of your story. All of your statements are covered under attorney-client privilege. As long as your information is intended to be confidential, it falls under the umbrella of this privilege.
How Should I Handle This Case Moving Forward?
To get the compensation that you are entitled to, you should follow the correct application process. One false move and your hopes of getting the compensation that you deserve could go out the window.
Your top priority should always be your health. Seek medical attention for your injuries or illnesses first and foremost.
After that, make sure that you report the incident (and all of your injuries) to your employer or supervisor as soon as possible. In the state of Georgia, the law allows you 30 days to report the injury after you have been hurt on the job. In some cases, just telling your supervisor or having a supervisor witness the accident without verbal confirmation could be enough.
Next, gather all medical documentation that you need and report the injury/illness to your employer. They will give you the proper paperwork to file a claim under their insurance provider.
If your employer has taken no action to provide you with either medical treatment or benefits, you have up to one year to file a notice with the SBWC about your claim. It requires a specific WC-14 form.
That same form can be filed within one year from the last medical treatment paid for by the workers’ compensation insurance carrier (and not your health insurance). The WC-14 is accepted within two years of the injury if you have received some lost wages, but are still seeking money because you cannot work, have work restrictions, or are earning less due to the injury.
Once you have done all that, it is time to hire an experienced and reliable workplace injury lawyer Atlanta GA and ask for their direction on the process moving forward. Ideally, you should be able to prioritize your recovery while they take over communication with the insurance company and oversee your claim.
Will You Be Working With Me Directly?
You would be surprised how many attorneys don’t work on a one-by-one basis with their clientele. In fact, many law firms have paralegals to oversee your case and handle the different components of it.
It is also well-documented that certain lawyers hand things like paperwork off to interns and associates in their office. Even though you are paying for the attorney’s skills, you will risk receiving the error-filled work of an inexperienced staff at their firm.
Don’t leave that up to chance. Ask any workplace injury lawyer Atlanta GA you talk whether they will be working with you directly. How much of your case will they oversee? Do they delegate any tasks to others at their firm?
Keep in mind that there isn’t a correct answer. Ideally, the lawyer will handle much of the workload in your case, if not all. Whether or not you are comfortable with other employees at their firm chipping in is up to you to decide.
What Is Your Success Rate?
If you didn’t think that lawyers keep track of their statistics, think again. Those that have high success rates are happy to share them with their clients. Those that don’t will rarely flaunt them and will try to actively avoid the conversation.
Be sure to ask any workers’ comp attorney that you speak with about their success rate with workers’ comp cases. You want to find an attorney that has no lower than a 70-percent success rate. This will help you feel confident in their skill set and the instructions they give you in your case.
Of course, it is all up to your personal preference as well. No matter what percentage they give you, you need to have them back it up. Ask them to tell you about some of their most successful cases, what they did differently, and how it can help your case.
How Will You Prioritize My Recovery?
You should always make sure that your attorney prioritizes your health and recovery over everything else. Remember, the compensation you are searching for is meant to protect your medical expenses and financial future.
For that reason, you need to ask how the workplace injury lawyer Atlanta GA plans to prioritize your recovery while they represent you. What advice can they give you? How will they help you balance your medical needs with being actively involved in the case?
A professional and reputable lawyer will take the reins so that you can focus solely on getting back to 100 percent recovery. They will keep you informed on every step of the process and only pull you in when it is necessary.
To prepare for a long-term settlement, you should consider applying for pre-settlement funding. It can help you cover your medical expenses in the short term. You only should pay it back if you win your settlement. If not, you don’t owe them a penny.
How Can I Keep in Contact With You?
You should never be left in the dark with your case. You should ensure that the workers’ comp lawyer you hire prioritizes keeping you in the loop. Ask them what their preferred methods of contact are. Do they prefer to keep in touch by phone? Are they more accessible by email? How can you reach out to them when you have a question?
There isn’t necessarily a correct form of communication. It is entirely up to what you would prefer. For example, if you would prefer to find a lawyer you can text whenever you have a question, communicate that interest to all that you speak with.
How to File A Workers Compensation Claim in Georgia
It is relatively easy to file in Georgia, but it is important to know the workers’ compensation system process, getting the initial form processed and not letting any details slip through the cracks.
The injured employee, the employer, and the insurance carrier all have roles to play in the process. But it starts with the employee, who ideally will inform their employer or supervisor immediately after the injury occurs before going to one of the six employer-provided doctors for medical treatment.
Georgia law states that the employee has 30 days from the date of the accident to report the injury. There is also a one-year statute of limitations on the claim to be effective, provided you met the 30-day stipulation of informing your employer.
Even if you do not feel the injury is major, timing is of the essence. On some occasions, you might suffer what seems like a muscle pull or a minor cut, and not feel it is worth the effort for immediate treatment. But in time, that muscle pull might become more severe or the cut could get infected. Perhaps several weeks after the fact, you might really need treatment.
So, it is vital to report your injury to a supervisor right away. Get it on record that you could need medical attention. That simple act could save you lots of frustration and aggravation. You can also consult a workplace injury lawyer Atlanta GA to advise you on the matter.
Employer’s Responsibility for Filing Claim
The employer and/or company responsible for handling workers’ compensation claims will investigate on-the-job accidents and injuries. The investigations are deemed necessary to determine how and why the injury occurred, then to possibly implement policies and procedures that will make the workplace safer.
Workers’ compensation will not provide benefits for an injury or accident resulting from an employee’s willful misconduct (defined as horseplay, fighting, willful act of a third party for personal reasons or injuries related to alcohol or drug abuse).
If the injury occurs due to inattentiveness or haste, it’ll generally be covered. But the employee might be subject to company discipline if they were not following company safety rules or policies.
The employer must file a report with its insurance carrier or self-insurer’s claims office immediately upon knowledge of a workplace injury. If the injured worker misses more than seven days due to the injury, the employer must inform the State Board of Workers Compensation within 21 days of that disability.
Georgia employers are required to have workers’ compensation insurance coverage. Employees can report a suspicion of fraud or non-compliance to the Board’s Enforcement Division at (404) 657-7285.
Insurance Carrier’s Responsibility
The insurance carrier, which will conduct its own investigation, will file a First Report of Injury with the State Board of Workers Compensation. Copies will be mailed to the employee and employer. The insurance carrier is also obligated to mail a brochure to the injured employee that explains the rights, procedures, and benefits for obtaining benefits.
The insurance carrier will require all written statements and accident reports, along with the names of all witnesses and the employee’s payroll records for 13 weeks before the injury.
How to Appeal a Claim Denial
What if your workers’ compensation claim is denied in Georgia? You have rights and specific legal options to pursue. But more importantly, you need an experienced workplace injury lawyer Atlanta GA by your side to help you navigate the appeals system and file a successful appeal.
First, it is understandable if you are confused and angry over this roadblock. What happened? Your claim could be denied as a whole (meaning the insurance company does not believe there was an injury) or through a certain aspect (maybe medical treatment with a specific doctor or denial of a specific body part that the claim says was hurt on the job).
The insurance company could assert that your injuries are not catastrophic or it may not believe they were due to a workplace accident.
So how do you appeal? The process can be difficult, so it is advisable to hire a workers’ comp attorney, who can guide you through any reviews with the Georgia SBWC.
Here are the steps to appeal a claim denial:
- File A Claim – In a 2019 survey of Georgia plaintiffs who received benefits after initially being denied, more than half said they filed paperwork with the SBWC to challenge the insurance company’s decision.
The “notice of claim’’ (form WC-14) is good for one year after your injury or last medical treatment provided and two years after your last weekly disability payment. Get used to the details and paperwork. It is part of the process.
- Mediation –You might be offered a “mediation’’ session with the insurance company to reach a settlement. In Georgia, approximately 82% of the appeals cases are solved this way instead of a hearing. But if a settlement cannot be reached, the process continues.
- Hearing –It is an informal legal proceeding that typically takes place in a courtroom in the county where the injury occurred. Your attorney will make arguments and present evidence to a judge, who’ll make a decision within 30 days.
- Appellate Review –If you don’t like the judge’s hearing decision, your attorney can file an application at the SBWC’s appellate division for review within 20 days of the ruling. The appellate division makes its decision after evaluating written arguments from both sides.
- Court –If the SBWC appellate judge rules against you, there is one final recourse. You can go to the Georgia Court of Appeals (and subsequently to the Georgia Supreme Court). Your attorney must file that appeal in the county where you were injured within 20 days of the SBWC’s final order.
Find the Right Workers Comp Attorney for Your Case
Finding the right attorney to handle your workers’ compensation claim who can help you build a strong case and ensure that you get every step of the process right increases your chances of getting the compensation benefits that you deserve.
Workplace Injury Lawyer Atlanta GA
So, if you are looking for an experienced, professional, dedicated, and reliable workplace injury lawyer Atlanta GA to help you file a workers’ compensation claim, contact Bobe & Snell Law Office LLC today. We have a team of highly competent workers’ comp attorneys with over 30 years of experience handling workers’ comp claims and cases.
Call us now at (470) 268-5802 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a FREE, no-obligation case review/consultation.