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How Does Workers’ Compensation Pay for Lost Wages in Georgia?

On Behalf of | Dec 15, 2021 | Workers' Compensation

If someone suffers an occupational injury or illness in Georgia, he or she can qualify for workers’ compensation insurance benefits to pay for lost wages. The amount awarded will depend on the extent and severity of the injury and the worker’s weekly wage prior to the injury. Learn more about how the workers’ comp system pays for lost wages to ensure you receive a fair amount as an injured worker in Atlanta.

What Types of Lost Wage Benefits Are Available?

No two injuries are alike. Some workers will only need a few days off work to recover, while others will never be able to return to the jobs they once held. To address different levels of injuries, the workers’ compensation program offers varying levels of benefits. There are four different types of lost wage benefits available through Georgia’s workers’ compensation system:

  • Temporary partial disability benefits
  • Temporary total disability benefits
  • Permanent partial disability benefits
  • Permanent total disability benefits

To qualify for one of these benefit types, you will need to prove that the injury that you suffered while on the job is interfering with your ability to work, either temporarily or permanently. You can prove your disability with medical records, letters from your doctor and testimony from medical experts. You will continue receiving disability benefits for as long as your injury removes you from work or until you reach the state’s maximum time limit. The time limit is currently 400 weeks for a noncatastrophic injury and a lifetime for a catastrophic injury.

How Are Lost Wage Benefits Calculated?

The amount of lost wage benefits that you receive through a workers’ comp claim depends mainly on your income. However, like most states, Georgia has a cap on lost wage benefits. This cap is two-thirds of the worker’s weekly wage. There is also a weekly maximum imposed by state law. This maximum increases year by year. As of 2022, the weekly cap is $675. There is also a statewide minimum. If a worker makes less than the minimum, he or she will receive at least the minimum amount in lost wage benefits.

To calculate your lost wage workers’ comp benefits, first calculate your average weekly wage. Request a copy of your income records from your employer for the 13 weeks prior to your injury. Add up your weekly wages for these weeks (your gross pay, pre-tax) and divide it by 13. This will give you your average weekly wage. If you did not work “substantially the whole” of the 13 weeks prior to your injury, you can use the weekly wage of a comparable employee to calculate your benefits instead. You may also be able to divide your annual salary into weekly earnings.

Since Georgia’s workers’ comp system only pays workers for two-thirds of their average weekly wages, you will need to divide your weekly wage by three and then multiply it by two. This will give you the amount that you should be eligible to receive in lost wage benefits. Remember that if the amount you calculate is above Georgia’s current weekly maximum, your lost wage benefits will be capped at the maximum.

When to Contact a Workers’ Compensation Attorney in Georgia

You may be able to recover greater financial compensation for your lost wages after a workplace accident in Georgia through a personal injury lawsuit rather than a workers’ compensation settlement. You may be entitled to file a lawsuit if a party other than your employer caused your injury, such as the manufacturer of a defective product. A successful injury lawsuit could pay you for 100 percent of your lost wages rather than two-thirds (about 67 percent). It could also pay for pain and suffering. Contact an attorney to discuss your legal options in more detail after a workplace accident.