Understanding Georgia's Workers Compensation Laws with Attorney Doug Kaleita
In a recent episode of the "Lawyers and Lay People" podcast, esteemed attorney Doug Kaleita shared his wisdom on the intricacies of Georgia's Workers' Compensation program. Known for his experience in personal injury and workers' compensation cases, Kaleita offered invaluable insights that can guide anyone dealing with workplace injuries or illnesses.
You can watch the video for yourself here.
A Brief Overview of the Conversation
Mr. Kaleita started the discussion by explaining what constitutes a viable workers' compensation case. He clarified that fault is not a determining factor for these claims. If an injury or illness occurs because of work-related activities, an individual may have a valid claim, regardless of who is at fault.
He then weighed in on the pros and cons of opening a workers' compensation case. While the benefits include medical treatment coverage and potential income replacement, there can be challenges. For instance, some employers might attempt to delay or deny legitimate claims, a clear sign that legal advice might be needed.
The risks of delaying reaching out to an attorney were also highlighted. Mr. Kaleita emphasized that time is of the essence in these cases. Early legal counsel helps ensure rights are protected and that necessary steps are taken promptly.
When pursuing a workers' compensation claim, injured workers have certain rights, including choosing their treating physician from an approved list. This choice can significantly impact the course of their recovery and claim.
One of the main concerns for injured workers is the potential reduction in income during a workers' comp claim. Kaleita explained that under Georgia law, workers are entitled to receive two-thirds of their average weekly wage, up to a maximum amount set by law, helping to alleviate financial strain during recovery.
Addressing questions about job security during a claim and after settlement, Mr. Kaleita pointed out that unfortunately, Georgia law does NOT prevent injured workers from being fired after being injured on the job. Sadly, this is true whether or not the injured employee pursues a workers' compensation claim. Because of this, many employers will fire an injured worker specifically because he or she was injured on the job, either just after the injury or somewhere along the line during the worker’s recovery from the injuries. Some states recognize a claim for “Wrongful Termination” under such circumstances; Georgia is not one of those states.
However, it is important to know that an employer and its WC insurer cannot avoid their obligations to the injured worker under Georgia WC law simply by terminating the employee after a job injury. The employer and its insurance company must still pay all WC benefits to which the injured worker is entitled under Georgia law, whether or not they terminate the employee.
Mr. Kaleita also shed some light on how the entire claims process moves along, including possible settlement at mediation or otherwise once the injured worker has fully recovered. He also confirmed that workers’ compensation benefits, including money received in a settlement, are not considered taxable income under either Federal or Georgia law.
Mr. Kaleita pointed out that if a claim is denied, or if questions arise during the handling of the claim, some claims may proceed to a hearing before a Judge, and he discussed that process and ways to speed up or avoid it if possible. He stressed the importance of having an experienced attorney to navigate this process effectively.
Legal Counsel | GA Workers’ Comp Cases
If you are injured in a workplace accident, the team at Kaleita Law Firm, LLC can help you understand the benefits and settlement options available. We can also help you collect evidence, file your claim, and offer you individualized counsel throughout the entirety of the process.
Discuss your case with our team today. Schedule an initial consultation by calling (888) 665-7699 or completing our online contact form.