Most workers in Georgia know that if they suffer an on-the-job injury, then the costs of treatment and lost wages will be covered by their employer's workers compensation insurance. Unfortunately, far too many workers don't understand that there are things they might be doing that could jeopardize this coverage.
Here is a list of just five things that could affect or cost you workers' compensation benefits:
1. Failing to report an injury in a timely manner
Far too often, injuries suffered on the job go unreported. In some cases, it's because employees aren't aware of their rights to workers' compensation coverage. In more extreme cases, threats of termination from employers are the reason employers don't report injuries.
Whatever the case may be, failing to report an injury in a timely manner can greatly impact a workers' compensation claim in Georgia. An insurance company could see a delay in filing a report as a ploy to get other, non-work-related injuries covered, and deny a claim as a result.
Additionally, there is a statute of limitations on workers' compensation claims in Georgia. Injured employers have one year from the date of the workplace accident in which to file a claim for workers' compensation benefits. If you don't file in this time window, you lose your right to gain access to benefits.
2. Willful employee misconduct
Workplace accidents aren't always the fault of dangerous work environments, negligent employers or careless coworkers. Sometimes, it's the injured worker who is partially to blame for their injuries. Partial fault doesn't necessarily mean ineligibility from workers' compensation; but if the injuries were the direct result of the employee's willful misconduct, then benefits may be denied.
3. Going to your own personal physician for care
Employers in Georgia are required by law to post a list of approved physicians who workers can see to treat work-related injuries. If you decide to go to your own personal physician instead of one of the approved physicians, the cost of your treatments may not be covered by workers' compensation.
4. Failing to submit to medical examination during treatment
To determine how your treatment is progressing and how long it will be before you can return to work, you need to receive medical examinations from the authorized treating physician at reasonable times. Missing appointments - either unintentionally or intentionally - can indicate to the insurer that you no longer require benefits to cover treatment costs, thereby resulting in the termination of your benefits.
5. Exaggerating details or lying about your injury
While details are important to a workers' compensation claim, it's never a good idea to exaggerate or lie about an on-the-job accident or the extent of your injuries. It's okay to want to be taken seriously, but this should never come at the expense of misrepresenting the facts. Lies and exaggerated facts can constitute fraud, which could cost you your benefits in the end.
Know your rights
Gaining access to workers' compensation benefits after a work-related accident is incredibly important, especially because these benefits can cover the cost of doctor's visits, hospital bills, medication costs and physical therapy. It's important to know, however, that there are things you might do that can cost you these valuable benefits.