Medical benefits under Georgia workers’ compensation law are payable for lifetime, for accidents occurring before July 1, 2013, as long as the treatment is related to the injury. For all injuries occurring on or after July 1, 2013, that are not designated as catastrophic injuries pursuant to subsection (g) of Code Section 34-9-200.1, the employer shall, for a maximum period of 400 weeks from the date of injury, furnish the employee entitled to benefits under this chapter such medical, surgical, and hospital care and other treatment, items, and services which are prescribed by a licensed physician, including medical and surgical supplies, artificial members, and prosthetic devices and aids damaged or destroyed in a compensable accident, which in the judgment of the State Board of Workers’ Compensation shall be reasonably required and appear likely to effect a cure, give relief, or restore the employee to suitable employment.” O.C.G.A. §34-9-200(a)(2). There is no maximum limit and no deductible for these medical expenses. Unlike a negligence case (like a typical automobile wreck), there is no separate damage for “pain and suffering” or “punitive damages”, even though you have suffered. Georgia workers’ compensation is not a fault based system so you can recover even if the accident was your fault.
Lost Wage Compensation for Temporary Total Disability
Lost wage compensation (temporary total disability (TTD) or temporary partial disability (TPD) benefits) are based upon the injured employee’s average weekly wage (AWW). The average weekly wage is based upon the 13 full weeks of gross wages just prior to the injured employee’s date of accident. If the injured worker did not work 13 weeks, the average weekly wage is based off of the wages of a similar employee.
If the injured worker has been placed totally out of work by the authorized treating physician (temporary total disability), the comp rate is 2/3 of the average weekly wage up to a maximum of $500 per week (for 2011 accidents).
If the injured worker is only able to work part-time due to restricted physical limitations, the comp rate is 2/3 of the difference of the average weekly wage and the gross wages each week up to the maximum of $334 per week (for 2011). Unless your claim is catastrophic, TTD benefits are limited to 400 weeks from the date of accident and TPD benefits are limited to 350 weeks from the date of accident.
Permanent Partial Disability Benefits
Permanent partial disability benefits are payable for any permanent injury the worker receives. These benefits are not payable while TTD or TPD is being paid under the Georgia Workers’ Compensation Act. In other words, these benefits will be paid after the TTD or TPD is suspended because the worker returned to work or because the maximum number of weekly benefits has been paid out.
To calculate this benefit, the doctor will rate the injured body part with a percentage as determined by the AMA Guides to Permanent Impairment, 5th Edition. For example a back injury may be rated as 10% to the body as a whole. A whole body rating is based upon 300 weeks, so 10% would yield 30 weeks of Georgia workers’ compensation benefits.