Average Weekly Wage (AWW)
Once you become eligible for income benefits to receive income benefits, you must ascertain your average weekly wage ("AWW"). Your AWW determines your weekly income benefit. Your AWW is determined by one of three methods, depending on your circumstances. The methods of calculation used are:
- Using your the average amount of your weekly wages earned for 13 weeks immediately preceding accident; or
- If you have not worked for the employer for a full 13 weeks before the accident, use the weekly wages earned for 13 weeks immediately preceding accident by a similarly situated employee,
- If there is no similarly situated employee, use your full-time weekly wages (for example, 40 hours multiplied by your hourly rate).
Temporary Total Disability (TTD)
TTD benefits are due when your authorized doctor disables you from any work. Or, if the authorized doctor limits you to "light-duty work," and light-duty work is unavailable. When you have been out of work for seven (7) days (known as the "waiting period"), you are entitled to weekly checks for TTD lost income. If you are out of work for 21 consecutive days, you will be entitled to payment for the waiting period. TTD checks are due 21 days after the injury.
Weekly checks for TTD benefits will equal two-thirds of your average weekly wage (up to a maximum of $675 and a minimum of $50.00/week for injuries on or after July 1, 2019).
For dates of accident July 1, 1992, and after, the maximum period your benefits can continue is 400 weeks from your injury date. However, your TTD benefits may be limited to 52 consecutive weeks or 78 total weeks if you receive a light-duty work release from your authorized doctor. In that case, they would be changed and reduced to temporary partial benefits (TPD).
Note that Catastrophic claims may receive lifetime TTD and medical benefits.
Temporary Partial Disability (TPD)
You may be entitled to temporary partial disability benefits if you can return to work with some restrictions and make less money than before the injury or illness. If you can return to work but are earning less because:
- you make less per hour, or
- are working fewer hours,
you may be entitled to temporary partial disability benefits.
TPD benefit checks will equal 2/3 of your average weekly wage (maximum of $450 for those injured on or after July 1, 2019).
The maximum period of TPD weekly checks is 350 weeks from the date of injury.
Permanent Partial Disability (PPD)
An injured employee is entitled to PPD benefits when no TTD or TPD payments are due. PPD is due when an injured employee is no longer allowed TTD or TPD benefits but has a permanent impairment to a body part. You calculate your PPD benefits by multiplying the number of weeks allowed under the law for the type of injury you have by the percentage of your impairment rating given by your authorized doctor. Your authorized doctor will determine your rate of impairment. Your doctor must use the AMA Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment Fifth Edtion for that determination.
PPD benefits are paid weekly or by lump sum (at the discretion of the workers' compensation insurer). PPD checks will equal 2/3 of your average weekly wage (maximum weekly amount of $675 for injuries on or after on or after July 1, 2019).
- The reasonable expense of last illness and also burial expenses not to exceed $7,500.00
- Further benefits payable to dependents only and only during the dependency.
- Maximum death benefits to surviving spouse for death benefits will equal two-thirds of the deceased worker's average weekly wage. (Up to $675 if they passed away on or after July 1, 2019) for 400 weeks or until age 65, whichever is longer.)
- In a questionable case, you have a right to an autopsy.
Except in catastrophic claims, there is a 400-week maximum time limit on medical treatment. An authorized, licensed physician must prescribe medical treatment. The medical treatment must be reasonably required and appear likely to affect a cure, give relief, or restore the employee to suitable employment. For catastrophic claims and specific medical durable equipment (for example, for spinal cord stimulator maintenance) entitlement to future medical benefits related to injury continues for the employee's life. Charges are limited to the Georgia State Board of workers' compensation fee schedule.
There are specific rules about how you choose your doctor for your work injury.
Pain and Suffering:
You are not entitled to damages or benefits for pain and suffering in your workers' compensation claim. Workers' compensation is a statutory compromise that provides certain statutory benefits, as outlined above. Workers' compensation is a system that developed early in the 20th century to provide quick benefits for lost income and medical treatment to an injured employee. Workers' compensation is available to an employee having an injury that arises out of and within the scope of his employment without the employee needing to prove that their employer was negligent.
Possible Civil Tort Claim against a Third-Party Causing Your Injury:
Some injuries for workers' compensation also involve the negligence of a third-party who is not the employer of the injured worker. In such a case, you may have a civil tort claim against the third-party causing your injuries. Your damages in that lawsuit would include past and future pain and suffering, as well as lost income and past and future medical treatment. Depending on the civil tort claim, some of your damages may be duplicative and set off in your civil tort action. Meaning, they were already paid in your workers' compensation claim. However, those income and medical damages are still valid in your civil tort claim, regardless if they were paid in your workers' compensation claim.
Your best interests are served by having legal representation from an experienced workers' compensation attorney at Maniscalco Law, P.C. to fight for your rights. Maniscalco Law has been representing both workers' compensation and personal injury clients for 30 years. Maniscalco Law has extensive experience representing injured workers in both personal injury and workers' compensation claims. Contact a Georgia's Workers' Compensation Attorney at Maniscalco Law, P.C., if you've been injured on the job and need legal representation to fight for fair compensation for injuries.