If you have been hurt on the job, you may have a lot of questions about what to do next. Should you tell your employer? Or just lay low? Should you seek help from a physician immediately? Or see if your injury can heal on its own?
If you are weighing these concerns—or might be in the future—here are some specific tips to help you:
- Report your injury — Even if you aren’t sure that your injury is serious enough, it’s best to report it immediately to a supervisor. For best results, write up a brief report detailing how the injury happened. Not all states require a written account, but it is far better to be safe than sorry. However, you could jeopardize some of your benefits if you don’t get your report in right away, so it’s best not to waste any time. Note that most employers are required to have workers’ compensation insurance. Thus, if your employer tells you that they do not have insurance to cover your injuries, contact the Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation for verification.
- See a physician — After declaring your injury, you should schedule an initial visit with a doctor. In Georgia, you may be required to see a physician who is preapproved by your employer, provided it has a valid panel of physicians. If this is the case, remember that some of these physicians may be more loyal to your company than to you. They may take measures to portray your injury as a pre-existing condition or as being less serious than they really are. If there is no valid panel of physicians, you will be allowed to see a physician of your own choosing.
- File a worker’s compensation claim — If you decide to file a claim, request a form from the State Board of Workers’ Compensation immediately or retain an attorney. This does not mean that you are suing your doctor—you are merely applying to receive benefits. After completing the form in a timely manner, submit it to the State Board. Keep a copy in a safe place.
- Consider hiring a workers’ compensation lawyer — Workers’ compensation law is ever-changing and can be difficult to understand. In addition, you are contending with insurance companies who are trying to pay out as little as possible. They staff their organizations with adjusters who know the ins and outs of state law and who have dealt with many hundreds of cases. They are very adept at finding ways to deny claims. Workers’ compensations lawyers can help level the playing field—bringing expertise and experience that can help you get the compensation and medical help that you deserve.