Workers who are injured on the job in Georgia are entitled to financial relief through the state’s workers’ compensation system. However, this is rarely straightforward and workers’ compensation claims are frequently denied for a number of reasons, such as if your employer is disputing whether or not your injury occurred while you were at work. Fortunately, you do not have to live with your claim being denied, especially if you feel it has been denied unfairly—you can appeal your decision and hopefully have it reversed in your favor.
Once you receive your denial notice, you can request a hearing before the State Board of Workers’ Compensation to appeal the decision. To do this, you must fill out the required paperwork and submit it to the board, as well as copies of the paperwork to your employer and their workers’ compensation insurance carrier. The board will then assign a judge to your case and your preliminary hearing date.
You may be required to go through mediation before your hearing date. If so, your case will be assigned a mediator who will meet with you, your attorney, and your employer and their representative. You may think this is a tricky process to navigate and that anything said can be used against you in court, but rest assured that the proceedings of mediation are strictly confidential and not admissible in court.
During the mediation process, you will meet with a neutral third party - the mediator - to discuss what you believe you are entitled to in benefits, and your employer and their insurance company will likely argue with reasons why you are not. Your mediator can help facilitate this discussion, which can dramatically increase your chances of settling your case before your appeal, which can help you obtain your compensation and benefits quicker and without the need for a long, litigation filled trial. However, a mediator cannot make a legally-binding decision. If you and your employer cannot settle or come to an agreement, then your case will proceed to court.
If your case cannot be settled in negotiations through mediation, then your case will proceed to a full courtroom hearing, which is much like a trial. It is strongly advised that you have a Marietta workers’ compensation lawyer represent you throughout this trial process to ensure that your arguments are presented and your rights protected by someone who is familiar with the laws and tactics of insurance company attorneys.
During this hearing, you will need to argue your position and submit evidence to support it through live witnesses; written statements or letters are not admissible as evidence. You should ask your doctor or a medical professional who has overseen your treatment to testify in court in order to support your claim. You may also wish to bring in witnesses to your initial injury to corroborate your story and provide further support to your statements.
Once your hearing is completed, your judge will issue a written decision about your claim based on all of the evidence they have heard. If your claim is accepted, then you will be able to obtain compensation. If it is denied, then you will not, but you have one final option: an appeal to the Appellate Division. To obtain this, you must file your intent within 20 days of your receipt of the written decision. From there, the Appellate Division will review your case and issue another written decision. This is the final decision in your case, and there are no more avenues for appeal if your claim is once again denied.
It is strongly advised you have an attorney throughout the workers’ compensation claims process to ensure your rights are protected. With more than 60 years of combined experience, the skilled team at Herbert Chestnut & Associates have what it takes to help you through the process and seek the outcome you deserve in your case. We prioritize your best interests in each case, and we tailor our counsel and decisions to help you restore your life and get the compensation you need to help you through a difficult workplace injury. Trust your case to a firm that has been named a three-time Workers’ Comp Attorney of the Year!
Call Herbert Chestnut & Associates today at (770) 285-5542 to schedule a case evaluation and start standing up for your rights after an injury.