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Georgia Workers’ Compensation Law


Bryan Hawkins

If you are reading my blog, you are probably considering whether to hire a workers’ compensation attorney to handle your case. I receive several phone calls every month from Georgia injured workers who already have an attorney; however, their attorney has not done a very good job handling their case. Often, the case has sat dormant on the corner of their attorney’s desk for months and opportunities for second opinions were missed. In some cases, the injured worker has missed out on thousands of dollars because their attorney did not act timely or simply did not understand what to do and when to do it. An experienced workers’ compensation attorney can usually get the ox out of the ditch. However, I am writing this blog post for those of you out there who have not hired an attorney yet.

If you are considering hiring a lawyer for your Georgia workers’ compensation claim, I encourage you to verify that they are, at a minimum, a member of the Workers’ Compensation Section of the State Bar of Georgia. You can verify here by simply typing in the name of the attorney you are considering hiring, and then clicking on his or her name. If you do not see “Workers’ Compensation Section” on their profile, I would take caution in retaining their services.

Second, I recommend looking at how many different practice areas your potential attorney claims to specialize in. (There is a very good reason I do not defend death penalty cases or pursue medical malpractice claims….because I know how much I know about workers’ compensation, and I can assure you there is just as much law in these areas that I simply do not know.) Do not hire a “Jack of All Trades and a Master of None” – there is no such thing as a true general practitioner in the law today. A very good analogy is the practice of medicine – Would you trust your primary care physician to perform open heart surgery? Would you want a Burn Unit surgeon operating on a herniated disc in your back? See my point? Many lawyers would disagree with me here; however, I do not recommend hiring an attorney who practices in workers’ compensation and ten other things. You need an expert who devotes his or her entire practice almost exclusively to workers’ compensation.

Third, I recommend interviewing your attorney prior to signing a fee contract. For example, some good questions to ask include whether your attorney ever practiced “on the other side” of the practice – defending the insurance companies and employers, whether he or she has ever appealed a workers’ compensation case to the Court of Appeals (or at least tried to), how many workers’ compensation cases has he or she handled, whether he or she is a member of Georgia WCCL – (if they don’t know what that is, run away!), etc. You want and deserve to have someone who knows workers’ compensation like the back of their hand.

So my point is do not hire a lawyer that does not practice exclusively in workers’ compensation if you expect to have the best legal representation possible. You can accomplish this by looking at their advertisements, website, Georgia Bar Directory information, and by interviewing them over the phone or in person. In the end, I want all Georgia injured workers to feel better, be compensated for their time, and obtain the benefits they are rightfully entitled to under the Georgia Workers’ Compensation Act.