Q: I hurt my back at work today while attempting to move a heavy piece of equipment. I didn’t tell anyone at work about it because I didn’t think it was that serious. Now that I am home, however, my back pain has gotten much worse. What should I do?
A: The first step in any Atlanta workers’ compensation claim is to give notice to one’s employer. There is also a claim form (called a WC-14 form, available online through the State Board of Workers’ Compensation website) that must be submitted in order to formally protect an employee’s legal rights.
Q: What happens after I give my employer notice that I was hurt?
A: Your employer will complete a First Report of Injury or Occupational Disease with the Board. You should also be given information about seeking medical treatment. Please keep in mind that you will have to choose a physician from the employer’s posted panel of approved medical providers.
Q: Can’t I just go see my own doctor to make sure there’s really a problem before I get my employer involved?
A: If you choose to see a doctor on your own, you will be personally responsible for paying for that provider’s services; you cannot use your health insurance. Any statements that you make to your doctor concerning the reason you are seeking medical treatment may be disclosed to your employer if you do file a workers’ compensation claim at some point. (The doctor-patient privilege will not protect you if your medical records are subpoenaed.)
Q: Can I just wait and see if I feel better on my own?
A: Technically, an employee has 30 days in which to give notice to his or her employer, but there are many risks involved in waiting to tell someone in your workplace that you were hurt. For example, you might be terminated for another reason, and your employer’s workers’ compensation carrier might deny your claim, arguing that you filed a false claim in retaliation for being let go from your employer. Another thing that sometimes happens is that a person who is hurt at work is later involved in a non-work-related accident that involves the same part of the body; if notice of the injury was not given (and prompt medical treatment sought), it can be difficult to prove which portion of the employee’s vocational disability was caused by the work accident.
Q: How do I go about speaking to an Atlanta workers’ compensation lawyer about my case?
A: If you’ve been hurt at work, you should talk to a lawyer about your legal rights as soon as possible. Failing to take timely action can result in many complications later and, in some cases, can result in a worker receiving no benefits at all. The Law Offices of T. Andrew Miller, LLC, helps those who have suffered an Atlanta work injury pursue the benefits to which they are legally entitled. For a free consultation, call us at 678-605-9109.