However, it is important to keep in mind that workers’ compensation benefits in Georgia may not cover 100% of an injured worker’s hourly pay or salary. Instead, benefits, although helpful, are limited in many ways that can be surprising to many workers who do not know much about the laws until they find themselves suffering from a workplace injury or illness. As such, it is a good idea that all Georgia workers have a general understanding of what workers’ compensation benefits are available under Georgia law.
Understanding Georgia Workers’ Compensation Laws – Disability Payments for Injured Workers
An injured worker is entitled to disability payments under Georgia’s workers’ compensation laws if an authorized physician diagnoses and documents a work-related injury that is significant enough to keep the worker from getting back on the job until the injury heals. The amount of disability payments a worker receives is equal to two-thirds (2/3rd) of the worker’s weekly gross pay for the entire period of disability (includes tips and overtime pay). Payments are due at the end of each week. However, such payments are not available the first week of disability UNLESS the injured worker is disabled for three weeks or longer. Disability payments for the first three weeks of disability are payable at the end of the third week.
The maximum amount of compensation injured Georgia workers receive each week (regardless of their regular pay) has increased over time as set forth below:
- July 1, 2005 to June 30, 2007: $450;
- July 1, 2007 to June 30, 2013: $500;
- July 1, 2013 to June 30, 2015: $525;
- July 1, 2015 to June 30, 2016: $550; and
- July 1, 2016 and later: $575.
The allowable maximum for disability payments is currently $575, but this amount may go up over time as average wages for Georgia workers increases. A worker who sustains on-the-job injuries and earns an average weekly pay of $600, the total amount of disability benefits this worker receives will be $400, which is two-thirds of $600.
What If I am Injured for More Than Three Weeks?
Some workplace injuries are severe enough to prevent an injured employee from returning to work within three weeks. Disability payments will continue so long as an injured employee is physically unable to work, and an authorized physician establishes that the employee is not fit to return to work. Unless an injury is considered catastrophic (including, among others, brain injuries, paralysis, and blindness), the limitation on disability payments, as of July 1, 1992, is a total of 400 weeks. If an injury is determined to be catastrophic, disability payments may continue.
For workplace injuries that are considered non-catastrophic and occur on or after July 1, 1992, the total amount of disability payments may be reduced when an authorized physician releases an employee to limited work. Reduced disability payments for limited work continues for 52 consecutive weeks, or 78 total weeks if the limited work period is not consecutive.
Limited disability payments begin once the employer or workers’ compensation insurer sends a notice to the worker of the authorized physician’s release allowing the injured worker to begin working on a limited basis. The notice must be sent to the injured worker within sixty (60) days of being released to work. If an injured worker does not receive a notice of release to limited work within sixty (60) days of being released, the 52 consecutive or 78 total week-period will not begin to run until such notice is sent to the injured worker.
Overall, the workers’ compensation process can be confusing, and many injured workers express concern that they are not receiving the accurate amount of disability payments allowable under Georgia law based on their average weekly pay. As such, injured workers should consider speaking with a Georgia Workers’ Compensation Attorney about a workplace injury and what benefits may be available.
Put Our Law Firm’s Over 39 Years Of Legal Experience To Work For Your Case!
If you have been injured at work, call Montlick & Associates, Attorneys at Law for your free consultation today. Montlick & Associates, Attorneys at Law has been representing those who suffer serious injuries throughout all of Georgia and in the Southeast for over 39 years, including but not limited to Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Gainesville, Macon, Marietta, Rome, Roswell, Savannah, Smyrna, Valdosta, Warner Robins and all smaller cities and rural areas in the state.
No matter where you are located our attorneys are just a phone call away, and we will even come to you. Call us 24 hours day/7 days a week for your Free Consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333). You can also visit us online at Montlick.com and use our Free Case Evaluation Form or 24-hour live chat.
Montlick & Associates, Attorneys at Law
17 Executive Park Dr NE
Atlanta, GA 30329
Telephone: 1 (800) LAW-NEED
Telephone: 1 (404) 529-6333