Workers’ compensation claims can be complicated and confusing—especially when they are denied. That is why it is so important to have a skilled, understanding, and knowledgeable workers’ compensation attorney in Atlanta behind your case. At the Law Offices of Nathaniel F. Hansford, LLC, we are dedicated to representing workers who have been hurt while on the job. We have 45+ years of combined experience and have a background in employer and insurance defense.
Don’t go through your workers’ compensation hearing alone. Call 770-922-3660 to set up an appointment.
What else makes our firm qualified to guide you through your hearing?
- Selected to the Super Lawyers® Rising Stars℠ list from 2011 to the present time.
- Lead attorneys hold a 10.0 Superb rating on Avvo
- 100% free initial consultations and contingency fee representation
- Million-dollar case results over the years
What Happens in a Workers’ Compensation Hearing?
While many people are (understandably) intimidated by the thought of a workers’ compensation hearing, the hearing itself is a fairly straightforward process. With proper preparation and counsel from your attorney, you can be confident in how the hearing will proceed and what you can expect.
Each case is unique, but the workers’ compensation hearing process in Georgia is fairly uniform. Before the hearing, your attorney will help you prepare by ensuring all applicable issues are ready for the administrative law judge’s consideration. Your attorney will also work with the opposing counsel to exchange important evidence relevant to the case.
On the day of the hearing, you and your attorney will appear before the administrative law judge (ALJ). Opposing counsel will also be present. Both sides will present a brief summary of why they are there, as well as their respective positions, to the ALJ who will then “go on record.” Once “on the record,” the ALJ will summarize the case and both sides’ positions, and this will be recorded by the court reporter. The ALJ may also place witnesses under oath at this time.
The hearing will then commence. Typically, the party with the burden of proof—which is usually the side that requested the hearing (you/your attorney)—will present its case first. At this point, you may be required to present testimony to the ALJ and other witnesses from your side may be examined. You and/or the witnesses may also be cross-examined by the opposing counsel. Your attorney will help you prepare for cross-examination prior to the hearing. Your attorney may also present admissible documents as evidence of your position.
Next, the opposing side—your employer/employer’s legal team—will present its case. Similarly, the opposing side can also present admissible documents and witnesses as evidence. Once the opposing side has finished presenting its case, the ALJ will “close the record,” which concludes the hearing. The ALJ does not provide a decision at this time; instead, both your attorney and the opposing counsel will provide written briefs summarizing their respective positions and evidence to the ALJ, who will review them. These briefs cannot contain any new evidence not presented at the hearing.
After reviewing both briefs, the ALJ will provide a written ruling of his or her findings and “conclusions of the law.” This ruling, or “award,” is the ALJ’s decision and can be accepted or appealed by either party. The award is typically provided a few months after the hearing, though this timeline can vary.
If you have any questions about workers’ compensation hearings in Georgia, contact our Atlanta workers’ compensation attorneys today. We can guide you through the process and help you understand how workers’ comp hearings work. Should you choose to work with us on your case, we will ensure that you are fully prepared for your hearing before it commences.
What Happens if My Claim Is Denied?
If your workers’ compensation claim has been denied, we move forward with filing a hearing, which will be in front of an administrative law judge. Many injured workers have never been required to appear or testify in court. At the Law Offices of Nathaniel F. Hansford, LLC, our Atlanta, Georgia workers’ compensation lawyers are here to advise you on the hearing process.
Over the years, Mr. Hansford and his team of attorneys have successfully tried many workers’ compensation trials gaining extensive experience in front of the State Board of Workers’ Compensation. He can help you summarize your accident and injuries, prepare a timeline of medical treatment, identify any current symptoms and limitations / disabilities, and even gather witness testimony from coworkers to prepare for your hearing.
What to Expect During a Hearing
There are no juries involved in any workers’ compensation hearing. Instead, the judge hears the testimony, reviews the documents submitted by the parties and makes a “finding of fact.”
Once the parties are finished representing evidence, the judge at a workers’ compensation hearing usually does not make a ruling on the issues in dispute. Instead, the attorneys prepare a written brief which is considered the closing argument of the case. The judge will then apply the Georgia Workers’ Compensation Act to the fact to reach his / her decision.
No, you cannot get terminated for hiring a workers’ compensation lawyer to help you after being in a workplace accident. It is your right to seek legal counsel, even if you just want advice or insight, not necessarily representation. An employer cannot terminate you for speaking to or hiring a workers’ compensation attorney. You also cannot be fired for filing a claim, with or without an attorney’s help. If you are fired or otherwise penalized for hiring a workers’ comp lawyer, then you will have a separate employment lawsuit on your hands that could penalize your employer and reward you with punitive damages.
Most employers will not actually educate their employees about the nuances of workers’ compensation. To put it into basic terms, workers’ compensation is a form of accident insurance purchased by employers – when mandated by the State – that helps injured employees pay for medical bills, rehabilitation costs, and some of their lost wages. The goal of workers’ compensation is assisting the recovery of an injured worker so he or she can come back to work sooner than later.
If you are injured in an on the job accident, you should notify your supervisor and co-workers immediately. You should request a copy the panel of physicians and seek medical care from a doctor on the panel if in fact the employer has a posted panel. It is also important that you ensure your rights and best interests are effectively represented during this time. You should retain the counsel of an Atlanta workers’ compensation lawyer. The Law Offices of Nathaniel F. Hansford, LLC represent clients across Georgia and Alabama. You can call on us today for trusted counsel.
If you have sustained a serious injury in the workplace, it is absolutely a good idea to consult with an attorney for two reasons. The first reason is that there are several deadlines that you must meet in order to avoid losing your ability to collect money for your injury. Even missing one deadline can cost you your case. The second reason is that an attorney can help ensure that you receive fair compensation for your injury and that you aren’t denied benefits that you are entitled to. Work injury victims sometimes question the need for a workers’ compensation lawyer and believe they can handle their claim on their own. Although employers are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance, it is entirely possible that your claim could be denied — our Atlanta workers' compensation attorneys protect your rights against unfair employers and their insurance providers.If you have sustained a serious injury in the workplace, it is absolutely a good idea to consult with an attorney for two reasons. The first reason is that there are several deadlines that you must meet in order to avoid losing your ability to collect money for your injury. Even missing one deadline can cost you your case. The second reason is that an attorney can help ensure that you receive fair compensation for your injury and that you aren’t denied benefits that you are entitled to.
When you’re hurting from a workplace accident, few things will be as frustrating as being told that your claim was denied. Thankfully, that’s not the end of your claim, though. You probably still have the chance to appeal the denial, which involves requesting a hearing, mediating with the insurance company, and, possibly, going before the state’s Appellate Division. Handling the appeal process on your own can be difficult and stressful, so we recommend working with an experienced Atlanta workers' comp attorney.
After a workplace injury, one of your most important benefits through workers’ compensation will be covered for your necessary medical bills. Typically, if you are taken to an in-network urgent care or emergency room department for treatment, then the insurance company is required to pay for those initial treatments, even if it tries to deny the claim later. Sometimes, an insurer can be required to pay up to a certain minimum amount of medical treatments, too, even after denying the claim.
Workers’ compensation has to be provided by any Georgia employer that has three or more employees. This employee minimum threshold includes part-time workers, so don’t be convinced that you don’t have workers’ compensation just because you are part-time and employed by a small mom-and-pop shop.
Your employer must maintain a posted panel of available doctors. This should be located in a visible area, such as a breakroom, time clock, or other designated area. In order to qualify to have your medical expenses covered by workers’ compensation, you are required to go to one of the panel doctors. However, if your employer does not have a panel, you will most likely be able to select from any doctor you wish. It is always best to check with your employer to confirm so that your bills are covered. You should not be expected to pay for any authorized medical treatment related to your workers’ compensation claim and work-related injury. The cost for these treatments should be covered by your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier. If you seek unauthorized treatment, however, you will be expected to cover those costs through your own insurance or finances.
Yes. In Georgia, you have only 30 days to officially report your injury. If you do not report it within this timeframe, you may damage your case and be denied the chance to obtain workers’ compensation benefits. The quicker you act following a workplace accident, the better. Although there is an official 30-day limit on filing a workers’ compensation claim, it is best to file your claim as soon as possible. Any delays in filing your case could signal to your employer and their insurance company that your injuries are not as serious as your claim. Of course, if you are physically unable to file your workers’ compensation claim immediately following an accident, you can still file your claim within the 30-day limit.Yes. In Georgia, you have only 30 days to officially report your injury. If you do not report it within this timeframe, you may damage your case and be denied the chance to obtain workers’ compensation benefits. The quicker you act following a workplace accident, the better.
Unfortunately every case is different. The insurance company has up to 21 days to investigate your case. If an insurance company refused to pay your claim, it could take much longer to get the benefits you need. That is why our team here at the firm fights to get you the best settlement possible for your workers’ compensation claim. We work quickly and effectively to ensure your case is resolved in a timely manner.
Our team understands the pain you are experiencing. We have experience handling thousands of workers' compensation cases, securing million-dollar case results over the years. Our founding attorney has been given a 10.0 Superb Avvo rating and selected to the Super Lawyers® Rising Stars℠ list. He understands that your situation has affected many aspects of your life and the lives of people near to you. Mr. Hansford knows the urgency of your situation and is ready to begin working for you today! Call us now.
Our firm has represented clients all over the state of Georgia and Alabama. We are happy to represent clients outside of the Atlanta area, including, but not limited to, Athens, Columbus, Macon, Marietta, Savannah, Dalton, Augusta, Rome, Cartersville, Lagrange and Albany. Visit our locations today to learn more!
In Georgia, any company that regularly employs three or more full-time or part-time employees is required to carry workers’ compensation insurance. Almost every employee in the state of Georgia should be covered by workers’ compensation insurance through their employer. This includes part-time employees, seasonal employees, and some other classes of employees who work in non-traditional roles. Our attorneys can advise you if you are unsure about your right to recover workers’ compensation benefits.In Georgia, any company that regularly employs three or more full-time or part-time employees is required to carry workers’ compensation insurance.
Pursuant to the Georgia Workers’ Compensation Act, anyone who has been injured in a workplace accident and is unable to work is eligible for certain benefits, which includes payment of two-thirds of your weekly income (up to a maximum of $575/week – this amount is subject to change due to inflation) for up to 400 weeks. In cases involving certain catastrophic injuries, the injured employee may be entitled to receive benefits for the rest of his or her life. Employers are also required to pay any and all reasonable medical expenses resulting from the injury.
Necessary travel to reach authorized physicians and treatment centers could become quite costly. As part of an approved workers’ compensation claim, you are entitled to reimbursement for travel expenses. You will need to provide evidence of your travel costs – such as receipts for gas, your home address, and the shortest distance from your home to your treatment center – to be reimbursed. Your employer’s insurance carrier may set a cap on how much coverage you can obtain for travel expenses alone.
Many people believe that if they have a preexisting injury, they won’t be able to file a successful workers’ compensation claim because their employer may simply blame their medical problems on a prior injury. This isn’t the case! In Georgia, a worker is still entitled to compensation for an injury which exacerbates a preexisting condition. For example, if you suffered a back injury in the past and you hurt it again during the course of your work duties, you still have a valid claim.
The Georgia workers’ compensation system operates on a no-fault basis, which means that an employee does not have to prove that their employer or a coworker was at fault for their injury in order to have a successful claim. Not only does this make it easier for the injured employee to recover, but it also means that even if the employee was partially at fault for their injury, they can still file a claim. There are rare cases of company negligence in which an employer could be found liable in a work injury case. Attributing fault to an employer for a work injury is reserved for cases of gross negligence or misconduct, in which the employer’s negligence was especially great or if they intended to harm their employee. In these cases, an injury victim may be able to recover additional benefits.The Georgia workers’ compensation system operates on a no-fault basis, which means that an employee does not have to prove that their employer or a coworker was at fault for their injury in order to have a successful claim. Not only does this make it easier for the injured employee to recover, but it also means that even if the employee was partially at fault for their injury, they can still file a claim.
Georgia allows workers’ compensation benefits to be rewarded to employees who suffer sensory damage, such as deafness and blindness, while performing work-related duties. In fact, hearing loss is the most common form of employee injury in the country, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data. Determining the amount of compensation deserved for hearing or sight loss may be complicated, and it is often advised that workers seek the counsel of a professional Georgia workers’ compensation attorney to ensure a fair sum is given.
Georgia allows employers and their insurance providers some control over the doctors and physicians that can be consulted for your workers’ compensation claim and related injuries. Your employer may choose to post a list of six physicians who are approved by the State Board of Workers’ Compensation and tell you to choose one you would like to be your primary care physician during your claim. Your employer can also choose a Workers’ Compensation Managed Care Organization (WCMCO) that has been Board certified. WCMCOs tend to allow you to choose from multiple care providers and physicians, and permit you to change to another physician in the organization without notifying your employer.
Yes. You are not automatically disqualified from Social Security Disability insurance (SSDI) benefits just because you also have been approved for workers’ compensation benefits, and vice versa. Federal regulations may reduce but not eliminate your SSDI benefits once you are approved for workers’ compensation, though.
Yes. The State Board of Workers’ Compensation in Georgia can impose harsh penalties against any employer that fails to provide workers’ comp coverage when legally necessary. Penalties may include a fine up to $5,000 per violation and a misdemeanor charge filed against a company executive or business owner, who will need to defend himself or herself in criminal court.
The workers’ compensation system is an exclusive remedy for employees against their employers and co-workers, which means that injured employees are barred from suing for personal injury if their employers have WC insurance. However, injured workers are allowed to make personal injury claims against third parties (i.e. someone other than an employer or coworker). For example, if an unsafe piece of equipment caused your injury, you may be able to sue the manufacturer for damages.
The Law Offices of Nathaniel F. Hansford is different from many other workers compensation firms for several reasons. Our 45+ years of experience has provided us with the wisdom and the insight needed to secure millions of dollars in successful results for our client. Additionally, our attorneys have received numerous awards and recognitions, including the selection to the Super Lawyers® Rising Stars℠ list, and a 10.0 Superb Avvo rating.