Hot Topics With Catherine Manavi | COVID-19 And Your Workers’ Compensation Claim
The COVID-19 pandemic is constantly evolving, and new recommendations seem to be issued daily. Our workers’ compensation attorneys have been working hard to stay informed of COVID-19’s impact on the workers’ compensation system in Georgia. We have successfully fought employers and insurers who have used the pandemic to try and take advantage of injured workers. We receive daily calls from our clients with questions regarding how the pandemic may affect their claims and benefits. While our primary goal is always to fight for our clients until they win, we certainly also want to keep our clients informed of anything and everything that may impact their claims. Here are a few questions we received from our workers’ compensation clients and our responses:
- QUESTION: If my workplace is currently shut down due to the Coronavirus, will I still be able to keep my temporary total disability (TTD) checks?
ANSWER: If you were receiving TTD checks before your workplace closed and you have not been released to full-duty work or offered a valid WC-240 light-duty job, your TTD benefits will not stop even if your business is temporarily or permanently closed.
- QUESTION: Will I continue to be able to obtain medical treatment for my work injury during the COVID-19 pandemic?
ANSWER: Yes, you should still pursue medical treatment for your work injury, even if the appointments are virtual, telemedicine appointments. Despite the unchartered territory of the COVID-19 pandemic, many doctors are offering virtual appointments as well as virtual physical therapy. If you were injured on the job and you have trouble finding a physician who will treat you, please give us a call and we can help you get the medical care you are entitled to by law.
- QUESTION: I have a workers’ compensation injury that was denied by the insurance company. Will I be able to have a Judge rule on my case or are the courts all closed?
ANSWER: If you were hurt on the job and your claim was denied, now is the time to file your workers’ compensation claim. Do not wait until the courts open back up to pursue the benefits you deserve. While all workers’ compensation hearings have been postponed by judicial order, some workers’ compensation issues are still being resolved via teleconference with the judges. Now is the time to consult our experienced legal team to find out what you should do to protect your rights.
- QUESTION: I was hurt on the job and now my light-duty position has been eliminated. Am I entitled to weekly workers’ compensation checks?
ANSWER: Yes. If you were on light duty work restrictions and your employer doesn’t have a job for you or cannot accommodate your restrictions because of COVID-19, the insurance company is required to start paying you weekly TTD benefits. If your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance company did not start your weekly check, please contact us and we will help you get the benefits you are entitled to receive.
- QUESTION: I have been out of work recovering from my injury and my employer just offered me a light-duty job. I am still hurt and I don’t want to risk working in the middle of the pandemic. If I don’t try this light-duty job, will they cut off my checks?
ANSWER: After a work accident, if you are out of work and receiving TTD benefits, your employer cannot simply stop paying your checks even if they have a light-duty job available for you.
In order for the insurance company to stop your checks, you either: (1) have to be released to full duty work by your treating physician or (2) your employer has to offer you a suitable light duty job within your restrictions. However, this is not just a simple light duty job offer. This light-duty job must be offered on a form called a WC-240 and there are many hurdles an employer must go through in order to offer a valid WC-240 light-duty job.
First, the light-duty job must be sent to and approved by your treating physician. Second, you have to be given 10 days’ notice of the light-duty job in writing. This must all be done on the correct WC-240 form. Many insurance adjusters do not do this process correctly and therefore, the light-duty jobs offered are NOT valid. If the job offer is not valid, the insurance company cannot cut off your weekly checks if you do not attempt the job.
If you are out of work and receiving TTD benefits and you have been offered a light-duty job, now is the time to contact a skilled workers’ compensation attorney. If the light-duty job offer was not done exactly as required by law, it is not valid and your benefits should not be cut off if you do not attempt the job. In many cases, the settlement value of your claim may actually increase if you do not go back to a light-duty job, so it is important to know if the job offer is valid.
Also, if you are high-risk for COVID-19 and do not feel it is safe for you to return to light-duty work during the pandemic, we can help you. We have successfully fought light-duty job offers that were sent to our clients during the middle of Governor Kemp’s Shelter-in-Place Order.
If you were injured on the job or have received a light-duty job offer or a WC-240 form, please call us Johnson & Alday at 678-967-4040.