What Time Deadlines Apply to the Filing of my Georgia Workers’ Compensation Claim
There are two main deadlines that you should be concerned about regarding the filing of your workers’ compensation claim:
- First, you should report your injury to your supervisor within 30 days following your accident
- Second, you should formally file your claim within one (1) year of your accident
Failure to abide by these notice requirements can result in a challenge by your employer and a possible denial of your claim. How can you best protect yourself regarding these deadlines?
Reporting On-the-Job Injury to Your Supervisor or the Business Owner
Georgia law requires that you report your injury within 30 days so that your employer will have an opportunity to conduct its own investigation. I advise that you report your injury as soon as possible – delays in reporting your claim will generally be used against you.
Most people report their injuries by phone – which is fine – as long as you get some sort of written acknowledgment in the mail (usually in the form of a letter from the workers’ compensation insurance company).
It would be nice to think that supervisors and business owners are always honest about taking down the details of your claim and reporting the existence of a claim to their insurer and to the State Board of Workers’ Compensation but some supervisors are not entirely honest.
If you have any doubt about whether your employer has notice, you should provide it to your supervisor, business owner or HR person in writing. If you are reporting your accident in writing, limit yourself to the facts – where, when and how. I would further suggest that if your employer seems to be playing games about notice, you probably want to consult with a lawyer sooner rather than later.
I have mentioned several times on this web site that workers’ compensation claims can turn friendly employer-employee relationships into adversarial ones, and this is especially true at the time of notice. You need to be very careful about what you say and be wary about signing anything if you are not represented.
There is some debate within the law as to whether a neck brace or cast on the arm or leg can constitute constructive notice. I prefer to avoid any questions so I advise my clients to formally report any on-the-job injury in writing.
Filing Your Claim Within One Year of Your Accident
You may wonder why the statute contains both a one month deadline to report job injuries and a one year deadline to report claims. The answer is that some accidents do not immediately give rise to a claim. For example, you may fall on a Friday afternoon, hurting your back, but after resting over the weekend you are able to return to work. You may find that your back pain begins really hurting you within five or six weeks, at which time you would want to pursue a claim.
Recognize that employers hate to file claims – every time a claim on their insurance is processed, their premiums go up – so your supervisor may note your accident but offer to let you take a few days off with pay to see if your injury resolves without involving the workers’ compensation process.
Then, of course, your supervisor will become angry with you if you do end up filing a claim, thus making the atmosphere that much more adversarial.
If a claim has not been filed with the insurance company and I get involved, I usually file the claim myself to make sure that there are no statute of limitations problems. You can also file a claim yourself using a form called the WC-14, which you can download from the Georgia State Board’s web site.