If you are injured on the job, you should report your injury to your supervisor or management immediately and fill out a report. Although by law you have 30 days to report your injury to your Employer, it is best to report it as soon as possible. If your Employer does not complete a written report for your file, be sure to make one for your own file documenting who you spoke with and the date you spoke with them. If there are any witnesses to your injury, be sure that you get their contact information and a statement if possible. Reporting your injury to a co-worker is not sufficient- you must report it to a supervisor.
After you have reported your injury, find out if your employer has a “panel of physicians”. A panel of physicians is a list of six company doctors who you are allowed to see for your injury and should be posted at the workplace. The panel must list at least six doctors or medical providers. It must include at least one orthopedic surgeon and no more than two doctors from “occupational clinics”. If you do not see the list of physicians posted at the workplace, ask your employer. If they do not have a panel of physicians or the panel is not valid (does not meet the requirements), you can go to a doctor of your choice. We highly recommend that you contact an experienced workers’ compensation attorney to review the panel and help you select your doctor.
After you determine whether your employer has a panel of physicians, make an appointment with a physician as soon as possible, but first consult with an attorney to pick the best doctor. Once you have been seen by a physician, be sure follow the instructions of your physician. It is very important to keep all follow up appointments and follow any work restrictions provided by your doctor.
You also want to be sure to keep your employer informed if you do not have an attorney representing you. If you have work restrictions from your doctor, be sure to get them in writing and give a copy to your employer.
If you have not retained an attorney, make sure that your employer has notified the insurance company of your injury. Often, the name of the insurance company is listed on the panel of physicians. If not, ask your employer for the name and telephone number of the insurance company and the person handling your claim. This person is called the adjuster and you can talk to him/her directly. You want to make sure that the adjuster is aware of the injury, where you have treated and what your work restrictions are, if any. Once you obtain an attorney, he or she can handle this for you as well.
If you are not able to get the insurance company’s information from your employer you can call the Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation at (404) 656-3692 and speak to the Coverage Department. They can give you the name and phone number of the insurance company for your employer and you can notify them of your injury.
It is a good idea to keep a record of your own. Ask for a copy of the report made by your supervisor, keep a copy of all medical records and keep track of who you spoke with about your injury.
You should be aware that just speaking with the employer and insurance company does not constitute filing a claim with the State. In order to protect your rights, you are must file your claim with the Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation within a year of your accident date.
If you are not sure whether you need to file a claim, contact The Law Offices of Laura Lanzisera for a free consultation.