Navigating a workers' compensation claim without an experienced attorney in Georgia may seem like a daunting endeavor, and with valid reason. The process is extremely complicated and the importance of the outcome can make self-representation a challenging route to take. While it's certainly possible to handle a claim yourself, understanding the complexity of the process can help you decide whether you need legal representation or not.
Georgia's Workers' Compensation Laws
In Georgia, workers' compensation is designed to protect employees who sustain work-related injuries or illnesses. This program potentially covers medical expenses, provide income while you're unable to work, and compensate for permanent impairments.
Filing a Claim
The first step is reporting your injury to your employer within a 30-day time frame. Your employer is then responsible for filing a claim with their insurance company. But if they fail to do so, you can take the initiative and file a WC-14 form with the Georgia State Board of Workers' Compensation.
Negotiating a settlement with the insurance company is a critical step of any workers' comp claim. Without a comprehensive understanding of the law and negotiation experience, it can be difficult to achieve a fair settlement. The primary objective of the insurance company is to make their payout minimal.
Evaluating Your Claim's Worth
Assessing the value of your claim is crucial. It should take into account not only your medical expenses and lost wages but also future medical costs and lost earning capacity.
Hearing and Appeals
In circumstances where a settlement can't be reached, your case may need to go to a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge. If you're not satisfied with the decision, you'd then be able to make an appeal to the Appellate Division of the State Board of Workers' Compensation.
Handling a workman's comp claim independently can be an overwhelming process for anyone. Even though it may seem cost-effective, the stakes are very high! Missteps can be costly, and you may need the guidance of an experienced Georgia attorney as that might just be more valuable than trying to represent yourself in court (especially if your claim is complex or if you suffered a severe injury). Winning settlements without a lawyer can be extremely tough.
Please remember that this post offers a general overview and should not be considered as legal advice. Always consult with an attorney with the experience necessary to secure fair compensation for you. The Edmonson Law Firm welcomes you to start a dialogue by filling out our Workers' Compensation questionnaire or by calling our office at (678) 271-9111.