What to do if you’ve been hurt while working for public transit
Over 12,000 people are employed across the various facets of the Georgia public transportation sector. This includes employees of MARTA, BUC, GRTA, ARC and many others. While these jobs are typically considered safe compared to more dangerous professions such as construction and manufacturing, accidents do happen. If you get hurt in the course of your work, you are entitled to the proper compensation.
Every year, thousands of employees are hurt across the country and are given false or misleading information about their rights. Almost all employers, including the state of Georgia and the municipal entities therein, are required to provide workers’ compensation to any worker that is injured as a result of their work.
Don’t take your employer at their word if they say your workplace injury isn’t covered.
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What are the most common injuries suffered by public transit workers?
Many injuries can result from the extremely diverse tasks that public transportation employees are required to perform. For example, public transit drivers can be exposed to numerous hazards including repetitive stress injuries and other exposure-related illnesses. Yet, the most common injury among public transit workers is without a doubt vehicular accidents.
As you would expect, a broad list of injuries can result from even a minor collision. These include broken bones, whiplash, back and neck injuries, traumatic brain injuries and many other potentially damaging conditions. Even if you have been told that you were at fault for the incident, you are still entitled to workers’ compensation for an injury that occurred during your employment.
Of course, Georgia’s public transit employees encompass many more positions than just drivers. Mechanics, administrative staff and other employees can also become injured or incapacitated on the job. There are inherent risks in every position and any injury sustained from employment is open to compensation.
What should you do if you are injured on the job?
The first priority whenever an injury occurs is to seek the necessary medical attention as soon as possible. In doing so, make sure you carefully document any care you receive and any expenses you incur. Having proof of these expenses and outcomes could prove crucial if you later need to prove the existence of an injury.
Further, do not sign or agree to any release or waiver presented to you by your employer or their insurance company. Often, employers will try to hastily settle a matter with their employees, or try to convince them to sign a document that eliminates their rights. Do not fall for this. If any such offer or attempt is made, politely decline to sign any forms and consult with your attorney. Maintain a record of every offer or communication that is made.
Many workers find it helpful to maintain a diary or journal of their symptoms over time. It can be difficult to remember the progression of any medical condition, but having a written log can be helpful to you and your attorney should you need to seek legal consultation.
Be careful what you disclose, and to whom. Unfortunately, your best interests are not always at the forefront of an insurance company’s mind. They may try to get you to record a statement or to lessen the severity of your condition. Unless absolutely necessary, it is best to avoid any communication with your employer or their insurance company regarding the matter.
Our record of winning accident cases in Georgia speaks for itself:
How long do injured workers have to file a workers’ comp claim in Georgia?
However, there are some important nuances to this timeline.
First, the relevant timing is 1 year from when you knew you were injured. If there was not a specific event that led to your injury, but rather a culmination over time, you may have a longer timeline.
Further, the statute of limitations is paused (or “tolled”) if income or medical benefits have been paid to, or on behalf of, the injured party. In that case, the employee has 1 year starting from the date of last remedial medical treatment furnished by the employer/insurer, or 2 years from the last payment of weekly income benefits.
If this sounds complicated, unfortunately it’s because it is. In short, the best practice is to speak to an experienced legal consultant as soon as possible to make sure that you do not miss an opportunity to seek your deserved compensation.
What if you were at fault for a work-related accident?
Fault is not an absolute limit to recovery in workers’ compensation matters. Whether you admit to being at fault or your employer simply claimed you were at fault, you can still seek recovery for an injury that occurred within the course of your work.
In certain cases, the assignment of fault can serve as a limit to your recovery, but it will almost never prevent it entirely. That said, it is important to not admit or discuss fault with your employer or their insurance company. As with other elements, the less you disclose the better.
Always speak with a work injury attorney near you
Georgia workers’ compensation law is complex and it can be difficult to know your exact rights. It is important that you receive the maximum recovery possible, and the best way to do that is to speak with a qualified worker’s compensation attorney as soon as possible. Regardless of your situation or what you have been told, it is always best to seek a professional legal opinion.
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