Government workers’ rights when they’re hurt on the job in Georgia
More than 68,000 people work for the state of Georgia, while nearly 137,000 are employed with the federal government. Government workers encompass everything from postal employees to forestry and agricultural workers, and a number of other occupations in between.
Knowing the ins and outs of workers’ compensation for government employees is essential for anyone who works for a state or federal agency in Georgia.
Federal Employees Compensation Act (FECA)
Federal employees in Georgia do not draw workers’ compensation from the same statewide program as most other workers. Instead, they are eligible for benefits under the Federal Employees Compensation Act. FECA, for short, provides benefits for those who are injured on the job as a federal employee and covers workplace injuries as well as occupational illness and diseases that arise due to someone’s employment.
Typically, you will receive benefits from your federal agency during the first 45 days you are off from work. After that, you will begin receiving benefits under FECA. You may also receive additional benefits, including federal workers’ comp settlements if you suffer a permanent partial or permanent total disability.
Certain federal workers are ineligible for FECA. These include:
- Military service members
- Federal government contractors
- Railroad workers
- Coal miners
- Harbor workers
Just because you belong to an excluded group doesn’t mean you are not eligible for benefits though. For example, government contractors often have coverage through their own employers, and railroad workers may be covered under a different federal program called the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA). Similarly, harbor workers may be covered under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA).
How to file a work injury claim as a local or state government employee
What happens if you are a government worker and become injured in the course of your duties?
If you are a Georgia state employee, you should first notify your supervisor. Ideally, you should submit a written report no later than 1 month after the date of your accident or illness. Any delays could render you ineligible for benefits.
Your employer will have you file a Form WC-14 with the Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation. After filing this form, send 1 copy to your employer and another to the insurance carrier. Retain another copy for your own files. After receiving the form, the insurance company will have 21 days in which to review your case and render a decision.
Many people feel uneasy about filling out the WC-14. Some will seek advice from a workers’ compensation attorney to ensure they have everything just right. If you need assistance with filing a claim, don’t hesitate to reach out to a qualified lawyer in your area.
How to file a FECA claim as an injured federal employee
Federal employees may file a FECA claim by completing 1 of 2 forms. The first is CA-1, which is the Federal Employee’s Notice of Traumatic Injury and Claim for Continuation of Pay/Compensation.
The second is form CA-2, the Notice of Occupational Disease and Claim for Compensation. Naturally, the form you use will vary based upon whether you have an illness or injury.
According to FECA, claims must be filed within 3 years of your illness or injury. Determining the exact date of an illness is often difficult, which is why the statute of limitations begins on the date you become aware (or should have become aware) of your condition.
FECA claims are administered by the Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs (OWCP). This agency is a division of the Department of Labor (DOL).
Common challenges with government-related workers’ compensation claims
Workers’ compensation claims are more complex when they involve multiple government agencies. Accordingly, many Georgians discover that it often takes much longer to resolve their cases. Many times, having an experienced attorney can prevent claims from falling through the cracks.
Federal workers must sometimes deal with issues related to schedule awards or buying back leave time. These issues can also be complicated and in many cases are best dealt with by an attorney.
State and federal employees alike may find it difficult to follow up on their claim. They are often bounced from one agency to another and may, therefore, be confused as to who is handling what. Our knowledgeable workers’ compensation attorneys are very familiar with navigating these types of cases and can prove a tremendous asset when it comes to avoiding the run-around.
Having assistance with federal workers’ compensation claims could be especially helpful in the event you are also applying for Social Security Disability benefits. Our attorneys can ensure your settlement is structured in such a way that it doesn’t detract from SSDI.
When to hire an experienced Georgia workers’ compensation law firm
Georgia state and federal employees face unique challenges when it comes to filing a workers’ compensation claim. Gerber & Holder Workers’ Compensation Attorneys understand these challenges and we are well-prepared to handle them. If you need assistance with filing a workers’ compensation or FECA claim, contact us today for your free consultation.