What injured meatpackers should know about workers’ compensation
The Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD) reports that agribusiness adds more than $75 billion to the state’s economy each year. Georgia is well-known for its meat production. The state’s cattlemen own more than 1.3 million head of cattle, while 26 million pounds of chicken are produced each day.
Some of the top meat producers in the country have facilities in Georgia, including Tyson and Koch Foods. These companies employ thousands of Georgians, who face unique risks not seen in other industries.
What are some of the most common meatpacking injuries, and what steps should someone take if they are injured?
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Common meatpacking injuries
Meatpackers are constantly working with knives, saws, scissors and other sharp objects. Accordingly, it’s not unusual for them to experience severe stabs, cuts and other lacerations. In addition, meat processing equipment is designed to grind and separate various pieces of an animal. Employees who operate these machines are therefore subject to crushed, broken or severed body parts.
Workers inside meat-processing facilities often move very quickly to keep up with assembly lines. They also perform very forceful, repetitive movements on a regular basis. The combination of the 2 leaves employees highly susceptible to injuries.
The nature of slaughterhouse work is very gruesome, and on-the-job injuries tend to be horrendous as well. Consequently, many workers experience PTSD following an especially horrific accident.
Risk of viral infection
The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed another hazard lurking in meatpacking plants—the risk of viral infection. Slaughterhouse employees normally stand in close proximity to one another and may even share common tools and equipment. As such, it leaves workers vulnerable to contracting illnesses such as the coronavirus.
Further complicating matters is the fact that many meatpacking plants are located in counties that already have a high rate of COVID-19 infection. In Georgia, this includes Perdue Foods in Houston County, Tip Top Poultry in Cobb County and Pilgrim’s Pride Corporation in Cherokee County.
Our record of winning accident cases in Georgia speaks for itself:
What to do after being injured at an animal processing facility in Georgia
Getting prompt medical attention is essential for those injured in a meatpacking accident. Slaughterhouse injuries should always be taken seriously, especially when they involve sharp instruments or heavy meat-grinding equipment.
As soon as possible, file form WC-14 with the State Board of Workers’ Compensation (SBWC). Under Georgia law, you have up to 30 days to report an accident; otherwise, you could forfeit any benefits. To avoid complications, we recommend filing as soon as you return from the doctor’s office or hospital.
After receiving your claim, the insurance company will likely perform an investigation in order to validate it. They will then render a decision, which normally takes around 30 days or so. If your benefits are denied, your next step could be to file an appeal.
It’s possible to do so on your own; however, having a Georgia workers’ compensation lawyer on your side can increase the odds of a successful appeal.
How much does a workers’ compensation attorney cost?
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that Georgia had roughly 5,000 workers in the slaughtering and meatpacking industry in 2018. These employees earned an annual mean wage of $24,920. This is much lower than the state’s annual mean wage for all occupations, which is $49,620.
Low-wage works often believe they cannot afford a good workers’ compensation lawyer. However, here at Gerber & Holder, we make our services available on a contingency basis. That means that you owe us nothing unless there is a settlement. Take action right away to ensure the best possible outcome in your case.
When (and why) to hire a Georgia workers’ compensation attorney
Unfortunately, some people wait for weeks or even months before receiving their first workers’ compensation payment. Many times, missing, incomplete or inaccurate paperwork is what causes untimely and costly delays. An attorney can serve as quality control to prevent unnecessary issues that might hold up payment.
Having us represent you is especially important if you must negotiate a settlement or file an appeal. Gerber & Holder Workers’ Compensation Attorneys can help ease much of the anxiety associated with these events. When you have a workers’ compensation lawyer, your odds of a favorable outcome are also much greater.
Georgia workers’ compensation benefits
You may receive weekly workers’ compensation payments if your injury makes it impossible for you to work for more than 7 days. The amount you receive is approximately two-thirds of your average weekly pay, up to a state-determined maximum that changes annually.
What happens if you suffer a permanent or severe disability such as an amputation? In that case, you could be entitled to additional disability benefits. Likewise, if your injury prevents you from working at all, you may also receive assistance in the way of job placement or additional training.
Georgia workers’ compensation benefits are paid on a “no-fault” basis. This means you do not have to prove that your employer or anyone else is liable. You are eligible for payments even if your own negligence may have contributed to your accident.
Don’t wait until the insurance company denies your claim or your medical bills begin piling up. Instead, contact us for a free consultation. Let Gerber & Holder fight to ensure your rights are protected.