Georgia workers’ compensation pays benefits to employees who are injured on the job or who suffer from occupational diseases. Workers may receive medical treatment, compensation for wage loss, and other financial assistance. To collect benefits, you must take certain steps, such as reporting your injury to your employer and filing a timely claim for benefits.
In Georgia, most employers are required to have workers’ compensation coverage—either by purchasing a workers’ comp policy from a private insurance company or by receiving certification from the state to self-insure. (In general, only large, financially stable employers will qualify to self-insure.) The State Board of Workers’ Compensation oversees all workers’ comp claims in the state.
Like all other states, Georgia has a no-fault workers’ compensation system. You do not need to show that your employer caused your injury in order to receive benefits. As long as your injury happened on the job or was caused by your work activities, you will typically be eligible for benefits.
Eligible workers may receive a variety of benefits, including:
For more information on the types of benefits available, see Workers' Compensation Benefits FAQ.
Notifying your employer is the first step to starting your workers’ compensation claim. In Georgia, you must promptly give notice of a work-related injury, either orally or in writing. If you do not notify your employer of the injury within 30 days, you may lose your right to collect benefits.
When you notify your employer, provide as much detail as possible, including:
Your employer may also ask you to fill out a written accident report. When completing the report, be as accurate as possible. Accident reports are frequently used as evidence in disputed claims, and any inconsistencies may be used against you.
Once you give notice, your employer should send you to an occupational doctor. Your employer may give you a list of doctors to choose from. It is important to provide the doctor with accurate information about the cause of your injuries and the severity of your symptoms. Insurance companies rely heavily on medical records of initial treatment when they evaluate claims. Either downplaying or exaggerating your symptoms may result in a denial of benefits.
Reporting a work injury does not automatically start a Georgia workers’ compensation claim. You must also file a claim with the State Board in order to protect your right to benefits. A formal claim is filed when you submit a Notice of Claim (Form WC-14) to the State Board. You also must send a copy of this form to your employer and its workers’ compensation insurance company. (If you need help identifying the insurance company, use the State Board’s online coverage verification search.)
It is your responsibility to make sure your workers’ compensation claim is filed on time. If you didn't receive any weekly disability benefits, you must file within one year of your injury or your last medical treatment through workers' comp. If you were paid weekly benefits, you must file your claim within two years of the last payment.
Once you report your injury, your employer must notify its insurance company. The insurance company will then determine your eligibility for benefits. Its investigation may involve:
Under Georgia law, the insurance company must promptly pay your workers’ compensation benefits. If your claim is approved, you will start receiving disability payments and other benefits. Unfortunately, insurance companies deny many workers’ compensation claims. (For common grounds for denial, see Denied Workers' Compensation Benefits.)
If your claim is denied, you have the right to appeal. To begin the process, you must request a hearing with the State Board of Workers’ Compensation. Unless your claim is very simple, you should consider hiring a workers’ compensation lawyer. The insurance company will have a lawyer and you may be at a disadvantage if you proceed without an attorney. To learn more, see Should I Hire a Workers' Compensation Attorney or Can I Handle My Own Case?