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Know Your Rights and Benefits
With very few exceptions, if you have been injured on the job, you are likely to be entitled to benefits provided by the Workers' Compensation Act. The basic types of benefits fall into three categories: (1) provision of necessary medical treatment, (2) weekly income benefits, which are a partial compensation for lost wages, and (3) weekly benefits for permanent partial disability. In order to receive any of these benefits, you must first report your injury to your supervisor or employer within thirty (30) days from the date of your injury. Normally, you must also file a claim for benefits with the State Board of Workers' Compensation in Atlanta within one year of your injury. Otherwise, part or all of your claim may be barred, although there are exceptions. Your attorney can help ensure that your legal rights are not forfeited. In some situations, our attorneys can help you negotiate a lump sum settlement of your case. Where necessary, we will ensure that appropriate ongoing medical treatment is part of the settlement.
Is Your Injury "Catastrophic"
Other benefits, not addressed above, are for catastrophic injuries and death arising from employment-related accidents. A catastrophic claim only arises from an extremely severe injury. The guidelines for determining the catastrophic nature of an injury are relatively complicated, and are beyond the scope of this discussion; however, our attorneys have significant experience in handling catastrophic injury cases and can answer any questions you may have if you or a loved one has had the misfortune of suffering such an injury.
History of Workers' Compensation Law
Workers' compensation falls into the category of administrative law, and is governed by statutes enacted by the state legislature. While many think of workers' compensation cases as "personal injury cases" -- and they certainly do involve injuries -- there are significant differences between third-party liability claims such as car collisions, and on-the-job injuries. Of course, some cases involve both third-party liability claims and workers' compensation claims. This scenario arises when a worker, acting within the course and scope of employment, is injured as a result of the negligence of someone who is not a co-worker, or the use of a defective product in connection with the worker's employment.
Unlike third-party liability personal injury claims, workers' compensation does not provide for payment of pain and suffering or punitive damages. Also, there are significant limitations on the amount of income benefits an employer might be obligated to pay. While this often creates a financial hardship for an injured worker, there are benefits to the Workers' Compensation Act as well. First, an injured worker who qualifies for coverage under the Workers' Compensation Act does not need to prove that his or her injuries were caused by the negligence or carelessness of someone else. This is very important, because even an employee's own carelessness will not preclude recovery of workers' compensation benefits. In other words, an injury does not need to be someone else's fault in order for an injured worker to receive workers' compensation benefits.
Make Sure You Are Protected
There is much more you should know about workers' compensation law if you have had the misfortune of being injured. Our intention here is to provide an overview to help answer some of your basic questions and hopefully put you at ease. If you or a loved one has been injured in the course and scope of employment, make sure your lawyer investigates all possible avenues of recovery. In choosing an attorney to represent you for your on-the-job injury, make sure you select one who has the expertise needed to guide you successfully through this technical area of law. At The Orlando Firm, P.C., our workers' compensation team works closely with the firm's personal injury division to ensure that all aspects of an injured worker's case are properly investigated and litigated.
Finally, many employers tell injured workers that they do not need an attorney to assist them with their workers' compensation case. Other employees tell us they are afraid to make waves. They express a concern that if they file a workers' compensation claim, their employer may take action against them, including termination. It is inappropriate for an employer to terminate an employee simply because the worker sustained an on-the-job injury. In our experience, an injured worker who is under the "protective umbrella" of The Orlando Firm, P.C. is less likely to be a victim of retaliatory action by an employer seeking to discourage an injured employee from maximizing benefits provided by the Workers' Compensation Act. Our lawyers are sensitive to these issues and will take appropriate steps to ensure that our clients and their families are not only well represented, but also well protected.
NOTE: You are not a client of The Orlando Law Firm, until you have executed an attorney-client contract for employment of the firm, and the contract has been signed by a member of the firm.