Workers’ Compensation: A Q&A with Josh Carroll
Josh Carroll is a Macon workers’ compensation lawyer at Buzzell, Welsh & Hill. He combines an insurance background with a drive to represent everyday people. He specializes in serious personal injury cases and workplace injuries.
After a workplace injury, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. What if you need surgery or months of physical therapy? What if you miss weeks or even months of work, or you get shifted to lower-paying light duty? It’s also easy to feel like your options are limited. Often, you can’t see your own doctor—at least not easily—and there are strict time restrictions for filing a claim.
Every employer is different. Every injury is different. But as a workers’ compensation attorney, I hear a lot of the same questions from clients about how to navigate this difficult time:
Am I going to be fired if I file a workers’ comp claim?
No one can stop your employer from firing you just because you file a claim. However, it’s not a smart move on your employer’s part if they do so. What’s more likely is that you get sent back to work before you’re ready. When you can’t keep up, you get let go for performance issues. When folks return to work after an injury, nine out of 10 workers feel like they have a target on their back. A lawyer can take steps to protect your best interests by getting you a second opinion or helping you switch doctors if you are being rushed back to work before you are physically able to do your job.
About going to the doctor after a workplace injury — do I have to see the one my employer recommends?
Georgia workplaces have to maintain a posted panel of physicians—a public list of at least six accessible doctors or clinics in the area. After a workplace injury, you’re required to see one of those doctors, but the choice itself is yours.
Handling a case properly from the beginning is very important. As a Macon workers’ compensation lawyer, the first thing I do when taking over a client’s case is to request a copy of the panel of physicians. I help my client select a doctor who will have my client’s best interests in mind, not the insurance company’s best interests. If medical treatment is already underway, I may seek a second opinion or request a change in physician. Ultimately, it’s about maintaining some level of control over where the medical treatment is headed.
What if I’m earning less on modified duty than I was before?
Under workers’ comp, your employer will start paying you after seven consecutive days of missed work, although they don’t have to send you a check until 21 days after you began missing work. Regardless, it’s usually in the employer’s best interest to get you back to work as soon as possible, even if it’s at a modified duty position. But for employees who’ve tried to “do the right thing” and get back to light duty work, some find they are making less money. They don’t get overtime or extra shifts. Employers are supposed to pay two-thirds of the difference between your pre-injury and post-injury wages, but many don’t bring it up at all.
Why do I need an attorney who specializes in workers’ comp?
When it comes to workers’ comp claims, you really need someone who understands not only the legal complexities of these cases but the medical side as well. A good workers’ comp lawyer needs to be able to understand the medical aspects of your case—both to send you to the best-matched physician and to help you ask the right questions. I’ve had neck surgery myself—a fusion for a herniated disc—and I can tell you I didn’t appreciate what real pain felt like until I experienced that injury. I’ve worked to learn as much as I can about the medical side of back and neck injuries, speaking to spine surgeons and orthopedists. Often, that expertise makes a huge difference in my clients’ cases.
If you’ve been injured on the job, you need a workers’ comp attorney. The Macon workers’ compensation lawyers at Buzzell, Welsh & Hill will help ensure that your employer is providing you with the treatment you need. Contact us for a free consultation today.