Workers Compensation Benefits for Dependents in Georgia

In the tragic event that an employee dies in the course of his or her job, the State Board Of Workers’ Compensation will ask whether the deceased worker had any dependents who would be eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits. Who is a Dependent? Generally, the deceased employee’s spouse and his or her child are presumed to be “dependents” in Georgia.  However, any other person can potentially be classified as a “dependent” provided that he or she was financially supported by the deceased employee. A claimant, who is not presumed to be dependent, must prove total or partial dependency in fact.  O.C.G.A. §34-9-13 (d).  The actual dependency must be shown on the date of the accident AND have existed three (3) months or more prior to the accident.  Dependency must not come from a meretricious relationship (living as a married couple but not legally married). What benefits are provided? Alleged dependents may receive an amount in proportion to the amount contributed by the employee from his average weekly wage.  However you must consider the following: Amounts of payment and to whom (did the decedent pay the mortgage company or did he pay you); Frequency of payments and to whom (were payments made every week, once a month, once every other month, or on a less regular basis); and Continuity of actual contribution by the employee (were these payments made consistently, every pay check or every month or were there large gaps in between). Cash or supplies or even sporadic payments in irregular amounts may qualify.  However, no allowance shall be made for any payment made in lieu of board...

How Can I Prepare for My Deposition?

In general, people tend to get nervous when they have to be in a lawyer’s office. When they are in a deposition, it can seem a lot worse as everything you say will be recorded by the court reporter. However, it is a common practice when you file a workers’ compensation claim or law suit. The key is being familiar with what is going on and being prepared for what the opposing attorney will ask you. It is like preparing for a school test, but much easier as you already know the material and you can bring in your notes. Surroundings: A deposition will not be in “public”. You will not be on stage. However, you will in a room with no less than 3 other people (you, the court reporter, your attorney and the other side’s attorney). You will be placed close to the court reporter if you are being deposed. The rationale behind this is that the court reporter will be recording what you say. This recording will eventually be transcribed into a booklet that will be a part of the trial record. Also, the court reporter will administer the oath to you. This is typically known as “swearing you in.” Being prepared: There are a few things you can do to be better prepared for your deposition and to help calm your nerves. Think of the deposition like a formal interview. The attorney taking the deposition will ask you a bunch of questions and it is your job to answer them. In a workers’ compensation setting, you will be asked a lot of questions about your...

Will I go to court for settlement or is a judge involved in the settlement process?

We’ve all seen the episode of our favorite law show where the parties are sitting in the courtroom and at the last minute, just before the Judge hands down his ruling, they reach an agreement. This makes for good T.V., but in reality that is not how it will play out in a workers’ compensation case. Generally, the only chance an injured worker will see a judge is if there is a specific issue or conflict that requires a judge’s ruling since the parties could not reach an agreement. For example, these issues may include the commencement of weekly benefits, a change of physician, or the compensability of the injury all together. The attorneys will try to resolve these issues before appearing before the Judge. However, the law does not give the judge the power to “order a settlement”. It only gives him or her the power to start weekly income benefits, designate a doctor, or determine if the accident should be accepted under the Workers’ Compensation Act. When it comes time to discuss settlement, that will be a negotiation between your attorney and the Employer/Insurer’s attorney. Your attorney should talk to you ahead of time and provide an evaluation of your case. This evaluation should outline the strengths and weaknesses of your case. Moreover, it should give you an estimate or recommendation as to the “value” of the case. Subsequently, you should have enough facts to grant your attorney “settlement authority”, or a monetary figure that you would take in exchange for closing or settling your case. Keep in mind that this process occurs away from the courtroom....