I Just Got Hurt – How to Notify Employer
If you just got hurt on the job, there are several steps you must take to protect your rights and to avoid big problems down the road. If you are not sure what to do, please call me at 770-351-0801 – I will be happy to speak to you at no cost and with no obligation.
1. Notice – under Georgia law your rights under the workers’ compensation statute begin when you provide notice of injury to your employer. Notice must be provided to a supervisor or manager – it is not sufficient to report your injury to a co-worker.
When you provide notice, you need to be as specific as you can, including:
- the exact date and time of your accident
- specific information about exactly what happened
- the names of any witnesses to your accident
- identify the parts of your body that are hurt
I would also advise you to write down everything you can remember about your accident, including the names and contact information of witnesses, the weather conditions, the physical conditions of your work environment. Write down this information when it is fresh in your mind – sometimes small details can make a big difference down the road.
2. Seek Medical Care -under the Georgia workers’ compensation law, you are entitled to employer paid medical care after an accident. Your employer should have a “posted panel of physicians” and should have explained how this panel works. Issues about the validity of the posted panel generate a great deal of conflict in the Georgia workers’ compensation system because the outcome of your case can be very different when you control the medical care as opposed to your employer. Questions and calls about the validity of the posted panel are emailed to me frequently and I invite you to do the same.
Georgia law also provides that in an emergency situation you may seek care at the closest emergency room and that the employer has to pay for this care.
When you arrive at the doctor’s office or at the emergency room, you must advise the receptionist, nurse and doctor that you were hurt on the job. Do not engage in guesses about pre-existing problems with your hurt body part or about previous injuries. Focus only on how you hurt yourself and what hurts you now.
3. Change Your Mindset – as much as you might like to think that your company is “like family” or that every doctor has your best interests at heart, you need to change the way you think if you are hurt on the job. Workers’ compensation is one of the most adversarial and contested areas of Georgia law – perhaps second only to contested divorce in terms of the level of hostility that can arise. Maybe you will be fortunate and the insurance company will treat you properly and with respect, but you should not count on such.
The goal of your employer’s workers’ compensation company is to resolve your claim quickly and cheaply. I know this firsthand because for the first five years of my legal career I worked for a law firm that defended employers and insurance companies against on-the-job injury claims. Often, the doctors on your employer’s posted panel get all of their business from insurance companies and their focus will be to minimize the seriousness of your injury and release you back to work quickly. Workers with injuries that can become chronic problems like:
- back injuries
- knee and shoulder injuries
- carpel tunnel
- closed head injuries
are seen as potential long term liabilities and your employer and their insurance company will want to get your stabilized medically, get a full duty release for you to go back to work, then terminate your employment.
4. Seek Legal Advice to Protect Your Rights – obviously, I hope that you will consider calling me if you are hurt on the job. But even if you do not, I encourage you not to try to take on crafty insurance adjustors and trial tested defense lawyers on your own.