The nature of the internship will determine if an intern is covered under workers’ compensation. That’s because internships operate in a legal gray area regarding workers’ compensation, which applies to only a strict class of employees and excludes many types of workers from this insurance.
The U.S. Department of Labor notes that with regards to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), interns “may not be employees.” So, you cannot secure workers’ compensation if you aren’t an employee. However, an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer can help you determine whether your internship status qualifies you for this benefit.
How Do I Know if I’m an Intern or an Employee?
Courts nationwide use a “primary beneficiary test” to determine if an intern qualifies as an employee or not. This test involves these questions:
- Was the intern anticipating compensation?
- Does the employer provide training mirroring that of an educational institution?
- Is the internship tied to a formal education requirement?
- Does the internship fit into the intern’s academic calendar?
- Is the internship limited in time?
- Does it provide the intern with “beneficial learning”?
- Does the intern’s work complement or displace work done by paid employees?
- Does the employer promise the intern a permanent position at the end of the internship?
Workers’ compensation law often involves complicated matters. If you’re unsure about your legal standing with your employer, consider seeking legal advice. An experienced attorney can review your situation and help you understand if workers’ compensation insurance covers your injury.
For a free legal consultation, call (404) 888-8888
What Other Types of Employees Don’t Qualify for Workers’ Compensation?
Unpaid interns aren’t the only workers not covered by standard workers’ compensation. Georgia law also bars these groups from claiming traditional workers’ compensation:
- Federal employees
- Railroad workers
- Farm workers
- Independent contractors
Just because Georgia’s workers’ compensation system exempts these groups doesn’t mean they can’t receive compensation for their injuries. For example, federal employees instead rely on the program outlined in the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act (FECA) to secure benefits. Again, a lawyer can tell you more about what insurance policies apply to your work-related injuries.
How Much Does Worker’s Compensation Pay?
Workers’ compensation accounts for both lost wages and medical bills incurred from on-the-job injuries. For example, in Georgia, if you’re left unable to work by an injury, you can receive two-thirds of your previous weekly income, with a limit of $675 per week. These benefits also apply to those who can return to work at a lesser capacity, with a weekly cap of $450.
In addition to these weekly payments, you can receive financial assistance with:
- Medical bills
- Rehab costs
- Prescription medication
- Treatment-related travel costs
Can I Lose Access to Workers’ Comp Benefits?
Yes, it’s possible not to qualify for workers’ compensation. According to the Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation, injuries stemming from intentional misconduct would not be eligible for workers’ compensation. Intentional misconduct includes:
- Drinking or using drugs on the job before your injury
- Horseplay or fighting
- Willfully intending to cause harm or act negligently
You can also risk losing your benefits by engaging in any of these actions:
- Refusing to take a drug test
- Working another job while collecting benefits
- Refusing a medical examination
- Not going back to work when you have recovered
- Neglecting to document your injuries properly
- Participating in fraud
- Not cooperating with relevant officials
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Do I Need to Hire a Lawyer to Secure a Workers’ Compensation Claim?
No, Georgia law does not require you to hire an attorney to secure workers’ compensation benefits. However, this process can be complex, especially if your case involves a tricky matter—like an internship dispute.
Here is how a workers’ compensation lawyer could assist you with the claims process:
- Help you secure a fair claim value: Workers’ compensation claims involve insurers and negotiations. However, these companies won’t always be on your side. They may present a low settlement offer, but a lawyer can identify these inadequate offers and suggest that you pursue higher compensation.
- Clerical assistance: Workers’ compensation claims can turn into a paperwork nightmare. While annoying to deal with, this paperwork is essential. Moreover, the insurer could deny your claim if you neglect to submit it. However, a law firm can assist you with filing the necessary paperwork.
- Assist with a claim denial: If the insurer denies your claim, you’ll need to submit an appeal. A workers’ compensation lawyer can advise you on this process and gather evidence that supports your claim.
Hire a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer if You’re an Intern Injured at Work
Are you confused about whether workers’ compensation covers you as an intern? Do you need help filing a workers’ compensation claim? No matter the issue, Bader Scott Injury Lawyers can assist you. We’ll ensure that you meet deadlines and provide backup if the insurer denies your claim. In addition, we work on contingency, so you don’t need to pay anything upfront.
Call our offices today for a free evaluation of your workers’ compensation claim. We’ll review your situation and determine if you’re covered under workers’ comp as an intern.