If you have been injured while performing work-related tasks, you might be wondering how to proceed with filing a claim for workers’ compensation.

Before filing a claim for workers’ compensation benefits, it is important that you report your injury to your employer ASAP, or at least within 30 days of the accident taking place. Notifying your employer will begin the process of gathering proof that you were injured and that the injury was work-related. This is crucial. If co-workers were present for your injury, be certain to bring their presence to your employer’s attention. The more information you can provide the better of an outcome you can expect from your claim.

The law in Georgia allows for a claim for workers’ compensation to be filed within one year from the date of you suffered your economic loss because of a work injury. However, if your claim is based on an occupational disease, you have one year from the date you became aware of your disease, or from when you should have known that the disease was related to your employment. The law does limit the amount of time to file a claim for occupational disease, regardless of the date of discovery, to seven years from the date you were exposed to the hazards that are related to your disease.

To file a claim, a WC-14 form, obtained from the State Board of Workers’ Compensation, must be filed with the State Board of Workers’ Compensation and a copy of that form needs to be sent to your employer and their workers’ compensation carrier.

In terms of seeking medical treatment, it is important that you do not visit your regular physician. Going to see a physician that has not been approved by your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier may be considered to be unauthorized treatment. If you receive unauthorized treatment, it is very likely that you will be responsible for all costs associated with that treatment.

Instead, you must select a doctor from a list posted by your company. The list should be posted in a prominent location and may either include a “Panel of Physicians” which identifies at least six qualified physicians; a “Conformed Panel” which includes at least ten qualified physicians; or a “Workers’ Compensation Managed Care Organization” which offers a large variety of treating physicians from many areas of the medical field. If your employer doesn’t have one in place, you are entitled to the doctor of your choice and don’t have to follow the “Panel.”

If your employer denies your workers’ compensation claim, you have the right to request a hearing from the State Board of Workers’ Compensation within one year of the date you suffered your economic injury. Generally, the process is fast in that a hearing is usually scheduled within 60 days of the filing of a request. A hearing in front of the State Board of Workers’ Compensation is similar to a trial setting. At the hearing, your lawyer will discuss why you disagree with your employer’s decision with an Administrative Law Judge, and if enough evidence is presented to show that your disagreement has merit, benefits will be granted. Sometimes, both attorneys’ fees and back pay with interest are ordered.