Injured in the classroom or on school grounds? Learn what to do if you’re hurt as a school employee in Georgia.
There are many hardworking teachers throughout Georgia. Some of the largest school districts in Georgia are Gwinnett County Public Schools, Cobb County Schools, Dekalb County Schools and Fulton County Schools. Gwinnett, in particular, has almost 180,000 students.
While there is an assumption that schools are generally safe environments, each year many teachers, staff and school personnel are injured while on the job.
Common teacher and classroom injuries
Teachers perform repetitive tasks such as working on a computer. Over time, this can lead to hand and wrist injuries. Teachers also stand for long periods of time and may risk hip, back and leg injuries. Some teachers might bump into or trip over desks, and others might fall while trying to hang something. This can lead to broken bones, sprains and strains.
Slip and fall injuries can happen in any workplace, especially in classrooms and hallways. With school budgets tight as it is, lack of funding can lead to torn carpeting and damaged floors that never get fixed, which creates environments where teachers can trip and suffer fractures, broken bones and sprains.
Teachers are also at risk of school violence. This can include violence from outsiders who try to enter the school without authorization and students who become violent or engage in horseplay. OSHA requires that schools take steps to keep both teachers and students safe.
Some older schools expose teachers to toxic substances such as asbestos. Long-term exposure to asbestos can lead to the development of a deadly disease known as mesothelioma. School districts that poorly maintain their buildings may place teachers at risk of mold exposure.
Some mold strains can be very dangerous for teachers with preexisting conditions. Toxic exposure can lead to headaches, blurred vision and memory loss. Science teachers may also be exposed to dangerous chemicals.
Don’t take your employer at their word if they say your workplace injury isn’t covered.
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Workers’ compensation for Georgia teachers
The state of Georgia is self-insured for workers’ compensation benefits. All employees on the state’s payroll are protected by this plan and their benefits are paid to cover any injuries sustained while at work.
The Department of Administrative Services (DOAS) Risk Management is responsible for investigating claims when a third party is involved. They are also responsible for investigating any claims that are considered suspicious. The DOAS-Risk Management also assigns private investigators at their discretion when they suspect a fraudulent claim.
Once you are injured, you must inform the school admin about your injury within 30 days. Then, the administration should complete the form WC-1 section A and send the form to the insurance claims office. The insurer makes sure that the form is complete and accurate before sending it to the State Board of Workers’ Compensation.
The insurer files the WC-1 to the board in the following circumstances:
- When you lose more than 7 calendar days from work
- When you lose wages that entitle you to temporary partial disability
- When you or your lawyer files a claim
- When you suffer a catastrophic injury that is considered compensable, or
- When a change of physician or treatment is requested for a “Medical Only” case.
Our record of winning accident cases in Georgia speaks for itself:
Injured worker benefits for teachers
The benefits you receive will be based on whether you can return to work. If you are able to continue working, according to your doctor, you will receive temporary partial (TPD) benefits.
However, if you suffer an injury so severe that you must miss work, you will be paid temporary total (TTD) benefits. This will be two-thirds of your income as a teacher. You will not receive benefits after 400 weeks unless you have suffered a catastrophic injury.
The insurance carrier will continue to pay your benefits and you will continue to see a doctor until the doctor determines that you have reached “maximum medical improvement” (MMI). At this point, the doctor will determine if you’re able to return to work or if you are permanently disabled.
If you are able to return to work in a limited capacity, you will receive permanent partial (PPD) benefits. However, if your doctor believes that you will never be able to work as a teacher due to your injuries, you will be eligible for permanent total disability (PTD) benefits. You will either continue to receive benefits at the temporary total benefits rate or you may receive a lump settlement.
For PPD, you will receive benefits for a limited time. This is based on which body part you have injured according to a schedule. If the part of your body that is injured is not listed on the schedule, your benefits will be based on the percentage of disability that your doctor assigns to you multiplied by 300 weeks. For example, if your doctor believes that you are disabled at 25 percent due to a head injury, you will receive benefits for 120 weeks.
Legal help for injured teachers
In some cases, applying for workers’ compensation is simple and you’ll receive the benefits you deserve. However, your claim might be denied because the insurance provider is suspicious of your claim, such as if you were injured during a field trip. Under these circumstances, you’ll want to call a workers’ compensation attorney as soon as possible.
Our Georgia workers’ compensation attorneys help in a variety of areas. They will negotiate with an insurance provider to ensure that you receive the benefits you deserve and will help you with other matters such as filing a claim against a third party.
Contact Gerber & Holder Associates today for your free consultation. Let us fight for the rights you deserve.