Both accidents and repeated job duties can cause work-related injuries. A construction worker injured in a fall is an example of the former, while an industrial worker injured by constant exposure to dangerous chemicals represents the latter. The workplace can be extremely dangerous for workers. In order to help safeguard work environments, the government created a program called Workers’ Compensation.
In Georgia, Workers’ Compensation is a benefit system put in place to help injured workers receive compensation for their injuries and return to their jobs as soon as possible. Injured employees are eligible for workers compensation if they are injured on the job or while performing normal job duties. Fault is not considered. Workers’ Compensation protects workers by providing for their medical expenses and lost wages until they are medically able to return to regular duty. Both part-time and full-time employees can qualify for Workers’ Compensation.
Generally, employees who accept Workers’ Compensation benefits cannot sue their employer, although in some cases, lawyers can bring suit against a third party or a manufacturer. In some particular cases, an workers’ compensation attorney may be able to identify a third party who was negligent, such as a manufacturer of a dangerous or defective product involved in the injury. In these third-party lawsuits, you may be able to recover damages for pain and suffering and disability damages that you would not be able to recover under Workers’ Compensation law against your actual employer.
Accidents that can occur at the workplace include:
- Defective machinery
- Exposure to dangerous chemicals
- Construction accidents, including falls
- Car accidents while on the job
- Stress injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome
Georgia Statute of Limitations
A statute of limitations is the given time period during which a workplace injury case can be brought. If the time period ends, it is a complete bar to any recovery if your case is not completely settled or the lawsuit is not served on the appropriate parties prior to this date or properly filed.
Georgia law requires that if you are an employee who was injured on the job, you must notify your employer or supervisor within 30 days. The only exception to this notification rule is if you are confident that your employer or supervisor witnessed the accident you were involved in. If you do not meet this 30-day deadline, you must submit a notification in writing and have a good reason for the delay.
Georgia law also requires a WC-14 form, a Notice of Claim, to be filed with the Georgia Workers’ Compensation Board either one year from the date of the last authorized treatment paid for by the employer or its insurer or one year from the date of the injury; or two years from the last payment of Workers’ Compensation income benefits.
If you have a claim against some other party other than your employer (a third party), the general two-year statute of limitations applies under Georgia law. It is also important to note that if your employer has fewer than three employees, Workers Compensation laws do not apply. Employers who have three or more employees are required by law to provide Workers’ Compensation to its employees.
Here are the basic types of Workers’ Compensation income benefits:
- Temporary Partial Disability Benefits: This benefit is paid weekly to an employee who is paid less after returning to work because of the on-the-job accident. This type of benefit is paid up to 350 weeks.
- Temporary Total Disability Benefits: This benefit is paid weekly to an injured worker who cannot return to any type of work after the on-the-job injury.
- Permanent Partial Disability: This type of benefit is also paid weekly to the employee whose injury results in permanent disability.
- Death Benefits: These benefits are available to an employee’s dependent spouse and minor children if the employee died due to an on-the-job injury.
- Medical Benefits: These types of benefits are covered under Workers’ Compensation. The condition is that the care must be provided by a physician who is included in the employer’s panel of approved physicians, with the exception of immediate emergency care.
What You Should Do if You Are Injured at Work
- Immediately report the injury to your supervisor.
- Go and see a physician. Make sure you choose an approved physician from your employer’s approved list.
- Get all relevant paperwork from your employer in order to make a compensation claim.
If you have additional questions about workplace injuries or Workers’ Compensation in Georgia, you can visit the Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation website.
The Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation is currently located at 270 Peachtree St., NW, Atlanta, GA 30303-1299. The phone number is (404) 656-3818 in the Atlanta area, or toll-free at 1-800-533-0682.
Get a Workplace Injury Attorney
Workers’ Compensation claims can be difficult and complicated. You may want to contact our Workers’ Compensation injury lawyers at Childers, Schlueter & Smith to see how we can help protect your legal rights and ensure you are getting the compensation and medical treatments you deserve.