Who Is Covered By Worker’s Compensation Laws in Georgia?
Georgia law requires most employers to carry workers’ compensation insurance. Worker’s compensation insurance is not required for:
- Employers with fewer than three employees
- Railroad workers
- Government Employees
- Independent Contractors
Full time, part-time and season employees are covered, as are minors and even immigrants working without authorization.
What Types of Injuries Are Covered by Georgia Workers Compensation?
Worker’s compensation benefits are available to any Carrollton, Georgia worker who is injured while on the job. This includes injuries sustained at your place of employment, at a remote job site, and while traveling to and from work. It also covers injuries sustained while on an errand for your employer.
Chronic illnesses and conditions like carpal tunnel syndrome, cancers, back injuries, and lung diseases are also covered if the condition was caused by activities or hazards at your workplace, and if your exposure to the hazard at the workplace was greater than what you would experience outside of the workplace. For example, some cancers are caused by exposure to chemicals.
Worker’s compensation benefits are available to a worker whose cancer is caused by exposure to chemicals, and if the worker was not exposed to the same chemicals outside of the workplace.
Psychological illnesses such as depression, anxiety, and PTSD are not covered unless they are caused by a covered occupational injury or disease. For example, a worker who is permanently disabled in a workplace accident may suffer from depression. Treatment for depression in such a case may be covered.
What If An Accident Is My Fault?
Worker’s Compensation insurance is a no-fault system. Even if a worker was partially at fault for a workplace accident, he is covered. The no-fault system also protects employers from being sued by injured employees, even if the employer was negligent.
If an employee’s injuries are caused by willful misconduct, he is not eligible for worker’s compensation benefits. Willful misconduct might include deliberately misusing equipment, fighting, or using drugs or alcohol on the job.
What Benefits Are Available?
- Medical Expenses: Workers’ compensation insurance will cover all medical expenses associated with the illness or injury, including doctor’s fees, hospitalization, surgery, rehabilitation, medications, and prosthetics. Your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance company may provide a list of approved doctors, and the injured worker must select a doctor from the list.
- Lost wages: Temporary Partial Disability (TPD) and Temporary Total Disability (TTD) benefits are available to workers who cannot work at all, or are able to work at a reduced rate or light duty. Permanent disability benefits are also available if a worker is unable to return to work at all after an injury.
- Death Benefits: Death benefits are available to the families of workers who are killed at work, or die from a work-related illness. Benefits include payments for funeral and medical expenses, and payments for the workers lost wages, up to statutory limits.
You may not collect benefits for pain and suffering in a worker’s compensation claim.
Filing A Claim For Worker’s Compensation Benefits
You must report any accident or injury to your employer within 30 days in order to be eligible for worker’s compensation. Your employer must then file a First Report of Occupational Disease with the Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation.
Reporting an accident is not the same as filing a claim. You may file a claim within one year of the injury unless you are receiving continued medical treatment or weekly benefits; then, the claim must be filed within two years of the last treatment or weekly benefit payment.
You may need to file a claim if:
- Your employer fails to report your injury is required.
- You do not receive benefits.
- You are cleared to return to work even though you are still unable to return to your former job.
- You believe the benefits you are receiving are incorrect.
- You believe you are not receiving proper care.
- You disagree with the decision of the insurance company about the amount or type of benefits to which you are entitled.
Filing An Appeal with the Georgia Workers Compensation Board?
If your worker’s compensation claim is denied, you have the right to file an appeal. The State Board of Worker’s Compensation will notify you in writing of their decision. You will have the opportunity to request a hearing before an Administrative law Judge, at which you will be able to present evidence in support of your appeal.
Evidence may include your own testimony, testimony from medical professionals, medical records, and any other evidence that might be helpful. If the Administrative Law Judge denies your claim, you may file an appeal to the Appellate Division of the State Board of Worker’s Compensation. This appeal must be filed within twenty days of the ALJ’s decision.
Before filing an appeal of a denied claim, you should talk to a Carrollton worker’s compensation lawyer. Your chances of winning at the appellate level will be greatly increased with an experienced attorney by your side.
Can I Sue My Employer After An Injury?
Worker’s Compensation takes the place of civil litigation against your employer, so you may not sue your employer unless the employer is guilty of an intentional or willful act that caused your injury. If your injury was caused by the negligent or intentional act of a third party, however, you may have a personal injury claim against that person or entity in addition to your worker’s compensation claim. Examples of third party liability may include:
- If you were injured in a car accident while on the job, you may sue the responsible driver.
- If a co-worker’s intentional act caused your injury.
- If you were operating or using a defective piece of machinery, you may have recourse against the manufacturer.
In a third-party action, you may be eligible for compensation for the damages you could not recover in your worker’s compensation claim, like pain and suffering, or loss of enjoyment of life if you are permanently disabled.
Call A Carrollton, Georgia Worker’s Compensation Attorney
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 82,000 non-fatal workplace injuries in Georgia in 2016. A large number of those cases were fairly straightforward – the worker’s claim was paid, he recovered from his injuries, and returned to work.
You need the advice of an experienced Georgia worker’s compensation attorney when your case does not fall into that category: when your injuries were very serious, or permanent; when your employer does not report the injury as required; when your employer disputes your version of the events leading to the accident; when your claim has been denied or you are not getting the benefits you should have.
When you hire an attorney to handle your worker’s compensation claim, you can stop worrying about legal details and start focusing on your recovery. You will not have to pay any money upfront, either. Your attorney will be paid after your claim is settled, and the fee is limited to 25% of your award.