Occupational injuries and illnesses are relatively common in Georgia. If you get injured while performing job-related tasks, there may be multiple outlets available to make a financial recovery for your lost wages and other expenses. Whether or not you are eligible for full replacement pay if you’re injured at work will depend on the facts of your case.
Workers’ Compensation Claim vs. Personal Injury Lawsuit
The first consideration is whether you are seeking benefits through workers’ compensation or a personal injury lawsuit in Georgia. Workers’ comp is the easier route, as Georgia’s workers’ compensation program does not require you to prove negligence or fault to achieve financial recovery. However, workers’ comp generally does not pay as much as a personal injury lawsuit in terms of lost wage replacement. You may be able to file both types of claims if someone other than your employer is to blame for your work injury.
Types of Wage Replacement Available Through Workers’ Comp
If you choose to file a workers’ compensation claim, the Georgia State Board of Workers’ compensation will only pay you for lost wages and employment benefits if you miss at least seven days because of your occupational injury or illness. The State Board will require you to obtain an estimate of how long your injury will take you out of work from an approved medical provider.
If you miss at least 7 but less than 21 days of work, you will not be compensated for the first 7 days. Instead, you must take these as unpaid days or use personal time off. If you miss 21 days of work or more, however, workers’ comp will pay for the first 7 days. There are two main types of lost wage benefits you can recover through a workers’ compensation claim in Georgia: weekly compensation and permanent impairment benefits.
Weekly compensation reimburses you for two-thirds of your average weekly wage, up to a maximum of $675 under the current law in Georgia. If your injuries give you a temporary or permanent disability, you could also receive partial or full disability benefits. These are calculated either by replacing the full amount of your lost wages for a full disability or by paying you the difference between what you used to make and what you make now due to a partial disability.
Depending on how seriously you were injured, you could qualify for workers’ compensation wage replacement until you are able to work or for up to 400 weeks from the date of your injury. You may also qualify for additional types of benefits after this cap for a permanent injury, such as Social Security Disability Insurance. Note that a workers’ comp claim will also pay for other expenses related to your work injury, including medical costs and vocational rehabilitation.
How Much Could You Receive Through a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
If you believe that your employer, a coworker or another party could have prevented your injury but negligently failed to do so, consult with an attorney about a potential personal injury lawsuit in Atlanta. If your lawyer can prove negligence – a careless failure to uphold the duty of care – you may be eligible for a settlement or judgment award from the at-fault party’s insurance provider.
A personal injury lawsuit could result in greater compensation for your lost wages than workers’ comp. For example, you may be eligible to recover 100 percent of your lost earnings in a lawsuit rather than two-thirds (about 67 percent). You may also be eligible for lost future capacity to earn due to a temporary or permanent disability. A personal injury attorney can represent you for the best possible outcome on your work accident case. An attorney will fight to recover full pay benefits for your occupational injury.