Learn how to file a claim and recover maximum compensation after an on-the-job injury
Daycare and childcare workers often don’t get the credit they deserve for providing our children with the educational and emotional support they require day in and day out. While these jobs can be fulfilling, they also come with risks that can leave these workers injured or sick.
Fortunately, daycare workers in Georgia are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits to cover medical expenses and lost wages if an injury or illness prevents them from working.
Importance of childcare workers in Georgia
Childcare workers are essential to many parents in Georgia and throughout the United States. In fact, as of 2021, Georgia ranked 5th in the U.S. for the number of daycare workers it employs, which is approximately 17,600. The Atlanta area alone employs about 9,600 daycare workers annually.
These workers provide care to children in a variety of settings, including daycare centers, schools, businesses and even private homes. They’re responsible for feeding, changing, dressing, educating and keeping our young children safe while they play.
Common injuries and illnesses for daycare workers
As essential workers who are in close contact with many children on a daily basis, daycare workers are at a high risk for communicable illnesses, including COVID-19. Other common injuries and illnesses include the following:
- Muscle sprains and strains from lifting children or heavy supplies
- Back and knee injuries from constantly kneeling, bending and lifting
- Spinal cord and traumatic brain injuries from slip-and-fall accidents caused by wet or cluttered floors
- Repetitive motion injuries from assisting with crafts and other activities
- Open wounds and skin infections caused by bites and other accidents
Do childcare workers qualify for workers’ compensation
Georgia businesses that employ at least 3 workers must carry workers’ compensation insurance for their employees.
Workers employed by public and private employers are eligible to file for workers’ compensation when they’re hurt on the job. This includes daycare and childcare workers.
Workers’ comp ultimately has a twofold purpose:
- It benefits injured employees by providing them with compensation while they’re unable to work without filing a lawsuit or proving fault.
- It benefits the employer by protecting them against personal injury lawsuits.
As long as an employee is a regular full- or part-time employee who receives a W2 tax form and not a freelance worker or independent contractor, they’re legally entitled to employee benefits if they suffer workplace accidents resulting in injuries.
What benefits are injured workers entitled to?
There are different types of workers’ compensation benefits available to injured childcare workers, including the following:
- Medical benefits. These benefits provide payment for the injured worker’s necessary medical expenses, which include doctor visits, hospital visits, medical treatment, rehabilitation, prescription medication, surgeries, medical devices and more.
- Lost income benefits. When workers are injured to the point where they cannot work for a period of time while recovering, they can receive benefits to cover their lost wages. These are equivalent to two-thirds of the person’s average weekly wages before their injuries. This amount cannot exceed $725 per week.
- Permanent disability benefits. Sadly, some on-the-job injuries end up being permanent. As a result, permanent disability benefits are available. The amount workers can receive depends on the specifics of their disability.
- Death benefits. If a worker dies from their injuries, their surviving family members can recover death benefits. This equates to two-thirds of the decedent’s weekly wages and cannot exceed $725 per week. Funeral expenses are also covered, up to $7,500.
How do you prove an injury is work-related?
In most cases, even if you’re responsible for the accident that caused your injuries, you’re entitled to file a workers’ compensation claim. This is because Georgia uses a no-fault system for workers’ comp.
However, the injury or illness must have developed as a direct result of your work. This means that it had to occur while you were working or as a direct result of your work environment and not be due to any other outside factor.
For example, if you break your wrist after tripping over a toy at work, that injury would be covered under workers’ comp because it occurred at your work while you were performing your duties and couldn’t have resulted from any other factors.
If, however, you experience a heart attack after work because you have a history of heart disease, that would not be covered because your job alone didn’t cause your heart attack—it could have happened anywhere.
Certain types of injuries, PTSD and certain mental-only injuries may not be covered in Georgia, nor would an injury that happens while traveling to or from work.
Steps to file a workers’ compensation claim in Georgia
There are certain steps to take after an injury or illness on the job to ensure you remain eligible for compensation:
- Seek medical attention. Immediately seeing a doctor for an evaluation will make it easier to prove that your injury or illness resulted from your work. Except for emergencies, you will need to see a doctor approved by your employer.
- Notify your employer. You are required to notify your employer within 30 days after any work injury or illness.
- File a workers’ comp claim. You must file a workers’ compensation claim using Form WC-14 with the State Board of Workers’ Compensation to begin the claims process.
- Contact an attorney. You should contact an attorney immediately if you have questions about the claims process or if your claim is denied.
How long do workers have to file a claim in Georgia?
If you need to file a workers’ compensation claim after suffering a job-related injury or illness, you must do so within 1 year from the time of your accident or when you became aware of your injury or illness. In most cases, failure to file a claim within this timeframe will prevent you from collecting any compensation.
How childcare workers can reduce their risk of injury
Because childcare workers have to bend and lift often, it’s important to use proper posture and good ergonomics. These tips can help workers avoid unnecessary injury:
- When bending, do so from the knees instead of at the waist.
- When sitting, ensure that you can keep your back straight and supported and avoid slouching.
- Always lift children and objects with your legs instead of your back. This can help ease pressure on your lower back.
- Hold a child in the center of your body, close to you and avoid holding them on one side while balancing them on your hip.
- If you have to reach up to grab something, use a step stool or other object sturdy enough to support your weight.
Contact a Georgia workers’ compensation attorney
Workers’ compensation is meant to provide workers with quick and easy access to the compensation they need while they heal from their injuries, but unfortunately, the process doesn’t always go smoothly, and legitimate claims are denied every single day.
If you’re a childcare or daycare worker in Georgia who’s been injured at work, contact our Atlanta work injury attorneys at Gerber & Holder Workers’ Compensation Attorneys. Our attorneys have over 75 years of combined experience helping injured workers throughout Georgia recover compensation after an injury or illness.