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How a Georgia Workers’ Comp Attorney Can Help Your Case

Written by
A portrait of workers' compensation lawyer Chris Gifford.
Chris Gifford
Attorney
May 3, 2024  ·  3 min read
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When I meet with a prospective client for the first time, whether it be via telephone or in person, they're often scared, frustrated and confused by the workers’ compensation system. As a result, they have many questions that require clear and concise answers.

One of the most frequent questions I get from injured workers is: Do I really need an attorney to help me? Generally, if you're missing time from work or if your injury is going to require significant medical treatment, the answer to that question is yes.


2 ways an attorney can help your case

There are many reasons why injured workers are better off having an attorney on their side. One of the biggest reasons to hire an attorney, which may not be obvious early in your claim, is that you are going to need help tackling the insurance company's tactics of delaying and denying medical treatment.

Of all the issues I address for my clients, fighting delays in medical treatment and the denial of care that is clearly related to an on-the-job injury is the most common and important.

1. Fight delay tactics by insurance

When entering the workers’ compensation system, claimants are often shocked at how slow medical treatment moves. In Georgia, where I practice as the managing partner at Gifford Law, all treatment must be pre-authorized by the insurance company which means that claimants are at the mercy of the claims adjuster. It can often take weeks to obtain pre-authorization for simple treatments such as physical therapy or an MRI, which can negatively affect healing and delay recovery. For injured workers, trying to fight this on your own is often a losing proposition.

Having an attorney with years of experience and a strong reputation can speed up the authorization of treatment and apply the necessary pressure to ensure treatment is authorized more quickly.

In Georgia, we have several tools at our disposal, including the PMT process, which allows your attorney to petition the Court for an expedited conference call when recommended treatment has not been authorized in a timely way. Retaining an attorney who specializes in workers’ compensation and knows how to navigate this complicated system can help ensure that the right strategies are implemented to move your medical treatment forward in an appropriate amount of time.

Atticus tip: All Atticus workers' comp attorneys offer a free consultation and charge no upfront fees. Reaching out to ask questions won't cost a cent but it could save you hours of confusion and frustration.

2. Prevent denied medical treatment

In addition to delaying medical treatment, workers’ comp insurance companies will often deny treatment for body parts that are related to your injury. This typically becomes an issue when workers sustain injuries to multiple body parts or if additional medical issues reveal themselves after the date of the accident.

For example, a claimant may sustain injuries to the neck, back, and knee in an accident but the insurance company only authorizes treatment for the knee because the neck and back issues did not reveal themselves until several days after the incident. When this occurs, it's difficult to obtain the treatment needed to recover from the injuries and simply asking the insurer to approve this treatment is not an effective strategy.

Having an attorney on your side to aggressively pursue this treatment is your best recourse. In Georgia, we have a hearing system that allows you, as an injured worker, to petition an administrative law judge for benefits that you believe you're entitled to but are denied by the insurance company. This is a litigation process and is extremely complicated.

While an injured worker has the right to petition the court for a hearing without counsel, doing so puts you at a disadvantage. The litigation process after a hearing is filed typically involves drafting and answering written discovery and participating in depositions. It requires a working understanding of Georgia's civil practice procedures and evidentiary rules. The insurance company will have an attorney representing them who will have extensive litigation experience and will know how to navigate this process to their advantage.

Hiring an attorney who specializes in workers’ compensation will help you pursue your denied medical treatment through the court system. It is the best way to level the playing field.


Final thoughts

My number one recommendation to anyone who has sustained a significant on-the-job injury is that before taking any action that can negatively affect your entitlement to workers’ compensation benefits, you should consult with a competent attorney in your jurisdiction who specializes in representing injured workers.

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A portrait of workers' compensation lawyer Chris Gifford.

Chris Gifford

Attorney

Chris Gifford is a managing partner at Gifford Law in Atlanta. A native of Macon, Chris has spent the past decade representing injured workers across the state of Georgia. He received his law degree from Cumberland School of Law in Birmingham, Alabama, and has been a member of the State Bar of Georgia since 2010.
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