Workers’ compensation is a form of no-fault coverage for employees who suffer injuries or certain financial or personal losses as a result of a workplace accident or while performing work-related tasks. This coverage is required by businesses in Georgia that have at least three employees, although some farmworkers, federal employees, domestic workers, railroad workers, and independent contractors are not required to have – and therefore may not be covered – by workers’ compensation.
In some cases, a different form of legal protection for workplace injuries may exist for those not covered by workers’ compensation insurance.
Workers Who Are Not Covered By Workers’ Compensation
Businesses with at least three employees are required to carry workers’ compensation coverage under Georgia workers’ compensation laws. However, the following businesses and work categories are exempt from this requirement:
Anyone employed by the U.S. federal government is not eligible for workers’ compensation coverage. Instead of workers’ compensation, these employees are typically eligible for the U.S. Department of Labor’s Division of Federal Employees’ Compensation—or DFEC coverage—for workplace injuries or losses.
Instead of being eligible for employer-sponsored workers’ compensation coverage, railroad employees may be able to recover compensation through the Federal Employee’s Liability Act (FELA), or 45 U.S.C. § 51. If a railroad worker suffers an injury on the job or as a result of the negligence, recklessness, or carelessness of the railroad, the worker can sue the railroad for damages under FELA.
Depending on the case, typical losses that may be compensable include medical treatment costs and lost income or wages. The injured worker may also be able to seek compensation for pain and suffering.
Farmworkers are those who work at a business whose primary operations involve growing, planting, or harvesting crops or raising or processing livestock. Farmworkers are usually not covered by workers’ compensation laws, as outlined in O.C.G.A. 34-9-2.
Someone who works on the docks or in a port loading, unloading, or building ships may be considered a longshoreman. Instead of workers’ compensation, these workers are covered by the Department of Labor’s Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act.
Independent Contractors/ Sole Proprietors
Self-employed, independent contractors and sole proprietors, such as consultants and freelancers, are typically ineligible for any sort of workers’ compensation. Such workers hold tax-exempt status and pay their own income tax, meaning they are not covered by workers’ compensation provisions.
However, contractors and sole proprietors may be able to purchase a work injury policy from their own insurance company in lieu of workers’ compensation.
If an independent contractor or sole proprietor was injured while working due to another party’s negligence, they may also be able to pursue compensation from the liable party in a personal injury lawsuit.
Small Business Owners
Georgia businesses with three or more regular employees must provide their employees with workers’ compensation. Very small businesses with two or fewer workers are exempt from this requirement. The Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation (SBWC) allows users to search for their employer online to determine if they carry workers’ compensation insurance.
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Filing for and Receiving Benefits
Keep in mind that your status and eligibility for workers’ compensation is only one part of the process of filing a claim for work-related injuries or damages. Even if your employer provides coverage, you must prove that your injuries or losses occurred during or as a result of work-related tasks or errands.
Furthermore, your injuries must also be covered by your employer’s policy, and certain coverage limits may also apply.
What is Covered by Workers’ Compensation?
In Georgia, workers’ compensation benefits may cover an injured employee’s medical bills, as well as a portion of their income. The percentage of covered income will depend on how your injuries affect you and how soon you can return to work. Unfortunately, workers’ compensation does not cover pain and suffering.
Appealing a Denial of Benefits
If the SBWC denies your workers’ compensation benefits, you can appeal the results twice, first with an SBWC administrative law judge and a second time before the Appellate Division.
You only have 20 days from the date of the administrative law judge’s original decision to appeal. You can submit your appeal in the form of a brief or request to make an oral argument before the Appellate Division. Then, you will receive a hearing date within 60 days of the original appeal. You only have five minutes to present your oral argument on your scheduled hearing date.
If the Appellate Division finds the administrative law judge’s determinations were supported by credible evidence, it will uphold the original decision. You have a chance to submit additional evidence for review and consideration when you file a brief.
How a Lawyer Can Help with an Appeal
A lawyer from our firm can handle your appeal from beginning to end. They can assist you with submitting your brief and any notices required for requesting an oral argument. They can also help you gather evidence for your appeal brief.
Contact Bader Scott Injury Lawyers for assistance with your case
Bader Scott Injury Lawyers helps injured workers in the Atlanta area with their workers’ compensation claims. Whether you are just getting started on your claim and want assistance, or if your workers’ compensation claim was denied and you want representation during the appeals project, Bader Scott Injury Lawyers can help.
For a free, no-obligation consultation on your case with a member of our team, call Bader Scott Injury Lawyers today at (404) 888-8888. A representative is standing by to discuss your injuries, your legal options, and whether or not you may be covered by workers’ compensation.