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Injured on the job? Three important first steps

Georgia law requires all workplaces with more than three employees to carry worker's compensation insurance, or worker's comp. It will pay two-thirds of your salary, up to $575 per week, if you cannot work due to any injury on the job.

The coverage is there for your protection, but it has very specific requirements. It is important to follow the procedures carefully and have appropriate representation to be sure that you have your full benefits. Here are three first steps that you need to take if you have been injured on the job.

1. Report your injury

The first thing that you need to do is to obtain and fill out the paperwork that your company requires to file a report. This should be available from the HR director or manager. Information on how to file a report should also be posted in any lunchroom and in your employee handbook.

It is important to do this immediately. Under Georgia law, you have 30 days to file your claim to receive full benefits. The only exceptions are if you are medically unable to fill out the forms, and in those cases they are required to be filled out for you.

2. See a doctor

Worker's comp is an insurance carried by your employer. Under the law, they must present you with at least six doctors you can choose from to see about your injury, or a managed care organization like an HMO. You cannot simply visit your regular doctor, at least not for the initial evaluation.

It is important that you schedule an appointment immediately and stay with it. Failure to follow through with your doctor's visits for any reason can result in your claim being denied. Even if it "seems like nothing" it is always good to have any injury checked out.

3. Consult an attorney

It is your right to have wages paid by worker's comp if you are injured on the job. But the process is managed by your employer and their insurance provider, who has an interest in denying your claim. You need someone on your side.

It is important that you speak to an attorney experienced in worker's comp claims immediately, at least for a consultation. They can handle the delicate negotiations with insurance because they know the details of the procedures and various tricks that an insurance company may use to downplay your injury.

Worker's comp is your right

In all cases, it is your right to be compensated if you cannot work because of an injury on the job. It is critical that you file your claim quickly and with the right procedures, as well as having good representation to help you through the process.

Your most important job is to be healthy again, and the worker's comp process can be exacting. It can be very helpful to your peace of mind to have someone there on your side to move it along.

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Atlanta, GA 30305

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