Learn what you need to do (and not do) to get maximum compensation for your claim
In 2009, Kia automotive opened a manufacturing plant in West Point, Georgia. The facility employs more than 14,000 people who create in excess of 340,000 vehicles annually. Employees typically work on 1 of 3 shifts to enable manufacturing to continue 24 hours per day.
Approximately 90% of the vehicles produced at the plant are sold in the United States. Additionally, Kia’s multi-billion dollar industry also ships vehicles and products to Canada, the Caribbean, Mexico, the Middle East and Pacific Nations.
The 2,200-acre West Point site also features the Kia Georgia Training Center, which features instructors, classrooms, programmable equipment, robotics and welding labs that provide more than 2,500 individuals with world-class training in order to obtain jobs with the company.
Although Kia remains a vital economic asset to the local community, working in the automotive manufacturing industry is not without potential hazards.
The many dangers of working in the automotive manufacturing field
According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the rate of reported illnesses and nonfatal injuries suffered by employees in the motor vehicle manufacturing industry is significantly higher than those reported in other industries.
Overall, only 5% of employees throughout the private industry experienced job-related illnesses or injuries in 2018, while 22% of automotive plant workers suffered varying degrees of work-related illness or injury.
Common automotive industry illnesses and injuries
Kia employees use a variety of materials, tools and equipment that carry the potential for danger. As a result, workers may suffer minor to severe or even fatal illnesses or injuries. The following are some common ways injuries occur at Kia and other car manufacturers:
- Repetitive movements are often required to complete specific tasks leading to repetitive motion injuries like carpal tunnel.
- Employees might fall from great heights or become injured when heavy materials fall or shift.
- Body parts may become entangled in machinery.
- Employees may suffer chronic exposure to toxic chemicals or materials, resulting in external injury or internal illness and breathing difficulties.
Some of the most commonly reported injuries include:
- Musculoskeletal sprains or strains (39%)
- Lacerations or open wounds (22%)
- Bruises (15%)
- 2nd- or 3rd-degree burns
- Hip injury
- Back and neck trauma, including spinal cord damage
- Fractures or dislocations
- Traumatic brain injury
- Internal organ damage
- Mangled or amputated limbs
- Foot or ankle injuries
An affected employee may be unable to work for an extended period of time while they recover from their injuries, or they may return to work with various restrictions. Severely injured or ailing workers may suffer permanent disability or even death.
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Steps to take after a work injury in Georgia
Workers’ comp benefits are designed to provide occupation-related accident victims with funds to cover immediate and ongoing medical treatment, rehabilitation, lost wages and death benefits.
However, Kia automotive plant workers must complete a number of steps to increase the likelihood of receiving monetary compensation:
- Seek medical treatment as soon as possible following the accident. With the exception of emergencies, employers require employees suffering from work-related injuries or illnesses to obtain medical treatment from employer-approved health care providers or facilities. Otherwise, the employer and workers’ compensation may fight to deny the claim.
Keep a file of all medical-related documentation provided by the doctor. This information can be used to tie your injury to your work incident, which is essential for ensuring compensation.
- Report the injury or illness in writing regardless of whether or not a supervisor or employer is aware of the event. Documentation must be completed and submitted no later than 30 days following the accident.
- File a claim with the Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation by completing and submitting Form WC-14. Kia must also receive a copy of the claim form. The form must be filed within 1 year of the accident or an accident-related medical treatment.
What workers’ comp benefits can I get after an injury
In Georgia, workers are entitled to several different benefits, each of which is discussed in detail below.
Kia employees may receive medical expense reimbursement for up to 400 weeks (and sometimes more in cases of catastrophic injuries). Medical reimbursement covers most medical-related care and equipment, including:
- Doctor visits
- Emergency room treatment
- Hospital stays
- Lab work and other tests
Should the injury or illness result in lost wages, workers are entitled to different categories of disability benefits.
Temporary partial disability (TPD) benefits
TPD benefits supplement the income lost should the injury enable the employee to return to work under medically described restrictions. TPD benefits are two-thirds of the difference between the worker’s average weekly wage before and after their injury up to $450. Payments extend for up to 350 weeks.
Temporary total disability (TTD) benefits
TTD benefits provide monetary compensation during the time an employee recovers from an injury or illness that temporarily prevents them from working. Employees typically receive up to two-thirds of their average weekly wages ranging from $50 to $675. Payments continue until the employee is able to return to work or for up to 400 weeks. Time frame exceptions apply to individuals having suffered amputations, severe burns or paralysis.
Learn what temporary disability claims are and how they differ from other forms of workers’ comp payments in Georgia, such as permanent disability.
Permanent partial disability (PPD) benefits
PPD benefits provide income supplementation for workers who are permanently injured but can work in some capacity. A physician must provide documentation that the disabling injury or illness is permanent in order for the employee to receive ongoing payments. Under the workers’ comp program, employees may receive up to two-thirds of the difference between their average weekly wage before and after their injury, up to a maximum of $675. The American Medical Association guidelines provide the benefit timeline.
Permanent total disability (PTD) benefits
PTD benefits provide benefits to workers who are permanently unable to return to work in any capacity. The amount of compensation workers can receive depends on the impairment rating issued to them by a physician.
Death benefits are available to certain dependents in the event that an occupation-related accident causes fatal results. Dependents may be entitled to receive up to two-thirds of the worker’s annual wages as well as compensation for funeral expenses.
Contact a Georgia workers’ comp attorney
The process of navigating a workers’ compensation claim can be complicated and daunting. In certain situations, the insurance company may deny a claim or offer insufficient compensation. Injured or ailing employees might be eligible for benefits that surpass the amount that workers’ comp is willing to pay.