Understanding your right to compensation
Assembly line workers are exposed to a variety of hazards specific to their line of work. In addition, they can sustain many of the same types of injuries as other manufacturing workers. Serious injury, even death, can result from these work-related hazards.
An assembly line worker’s risk of injury is further aggravated by long hours on their feet and repetitive movements. The attention span of the best-trained worker is challenged, as is their observance of safety protocols.
Even the most alert assembly line worker is regularly exposed to serious injuries, including broken bones, amputations, lacerations, burns and crushing blows from heavy machinery. Assembly workers are particularly prone to being struck by falling objects or suspended booms and getting caught in moving conveyor machinery. All of these hazards can lead to arm, leg, face, neck and eye injuries, as well as skull fractures and brain trauma.
Just like other factory workers, assembly line workers are also exposed to hazards such as chemicals, toxic substances, vehicle accidents, air pollution and constant loud noise.
The prolonged repetitive movements required of assembly line workers can lead to chronic back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome and tendonitis.
In addition, employers often fail to adhere to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) safety guidelines and common sense. Fewer assembly line accidents would occur if those protocols were followed.
Only trained employees should be allowed around assembly lines. Warning signs should be posted. Safety attire, helmets, eyewear, gloves and other protective gear should be worn at all times.
What are workers’ compensation benefits?
Georgia workers’ compensation law requires every employer with 3 or more employees to provide their employees with certain benefits if they’re injured on the job. Most employers in the state are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance from a qualified insurance company. However, a few large employers might qualify to self-insure.
Any employer who fails to cover their employees as required can face serious civil and criminal penalties. They can even have their business shut down.
Workers’ compensation insurance is a no-fault system. That means an injured worker doesn’t have to prove the employer was at fault for their injury.
Workers’ compensation benefits are fixed by law. The Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation publishes an informative guide to benefits. They include:
- Medical benefits. Payment of your bills for an extensive list of medical and hospital care, therapy and rehabilitation. However, the treatments must be overseen by a company-approved doctor. There’s no coinsurance, deductible, or time limit. Your medical-related bills will be paid as long as your doctor says you need care.
- Permanent total disability. Payments are made if you’re permanently and totally disabled as a result of your on-the-job injury. You’re entitled to weekly payments of two-thirds of your average weekly wage for up to 400 weeks.
- Permanent partial disability. Payments are made if you’re permanently and partially disabled as a result of your on-the-job injury. You’re entitled to weekly payments of two-thirds of your average weekly wage for a duration that depends on your disability.
- Temporary disability. Payments are made if you’re temporarily, partially or fully disabled. You are eligible for weekly payments of two-thirds of your average weekly wage for up to 350 weeks.
- Death benefits. Payments are made to your family if you die as a result of your on-the-job injury. Death benefits include burial expenses up to $7,500 and a weekly payment of $675 for a variable duration and limited to a maximum of $270,000.
What to do if you’re injured on the assembly line
The law imposes strict requirements for a viable workers’ compensation claim. If you don’t comply with those requirements, your claim could be compromised. First, you must immediately report the injury to your employer no later than 30 days after the accident.
Next, you must file a claim with the Georgia Workers’ Compensation Board. Your claim must be filed within 1 year of your last authorized medical treatment, but it’s best to get the process started as early as possible.
The content, accuracy, and timeliness of your report and other filings are critically important to the viability of your claim. Many employers do what they can to discourage, impede or delay your claim because it can affect their insurance premiums. For that reason, you should seek representation from a skilled lawyer with extensive experience and knowledge of Georgia workers’ compensation laws.