What are the workers’ compensation reporting requirements for employers?
Employers in Georgia are required to have workers’ compensation insurance that covers all employees based on the company size and ownership structure. Employers with a crew of 3 or more are required to provide workers’ comp protection for the workers, but the actual company owner isn’t required to maintain insurance on themselves.
This is effectively the sole proprietorship exclusion, as business operators are considered employers and not employees. Business owners are allowed to include themselves in the protection, and many do because this is an effective method of insuring a small business may continue to operate even when the employer is unable to work. In this aspect of business viability, the insurance protects the business as well as the employees.
All states are required by federal law to have some sort of workers’ comp program, but each state can make the final decision on its program structure.
Georgia allows employers to maintain private insurance policies, which means handling claims will also include input from the insurance provider. It also means that claims in Georgia can be complicated when the insurance company wants to contest the claim, ultimately requiring the employee to hire an experienced Georgia workers’ compensation law firm for effective representation.
Employer responsibilities in Georgia
Georgia employers are required to carry insurance on all of their workers when they meet the 3 employee standards, and they have several stated responsibilities. Among those duties are:
- Individual claim attention
- Prompt and courteous reporting
- Full information disclosure on income and medical benefits
- Significant effort to return the employee to their designated position
These workers’ comp employer obligations are often set forth in writing when the employee is hired.
In addition, employers are also required to maintain a reasonably safe work environment and comply with all health and safety regulations of the job as stipulated by the Georgia Occupational Health and Safety Administration.
While these requirements may seem like common sense, the fact is that many employers will skirt safety obligations in the workplace to avoid what they deem as an “unnecessary expense.” This can be a major issue when workers’ comp claims are being processed, especially when they are being contested by either the company or the insurance provider.
Employer restrictions after a workplace injury
The first item on any restriction list for an employer in Georgia involves retaliation against an employee for filing a workers’ compensation injury claim. This is illegal. Employment termination is explicitly not allowed when stemming from the claimed injury. However, termination could occur later under certain circumstances if the injury prevents an employee from returning to work or allows returning at a diminished capacity.
Defamation is also an issue when the employee is classified as a “whistleblower” following an injury due to unsafe or illegal conditions.
Another scenario is if the injury is so severe it requires the employee to seek other employment following a claim settlement where they aren’t totally disabled by the injury.
Employers can take steps in a variety of ways to retaliate, some of which might not be legal. Our experienced Georgia workers’ compensation lawyers work with injured workers to the signs and know how to proceed legally.
Maintain proper workers’ compensation insurance coverage
Employers in Georgia can opt to not participate in the workers’ comp program if they can prove they are solvent and have a significant amount of designated financial resources to cover work injury claims. Railroad companies, for instance, are common examples of these employers. Problems can arise when employees are attempting to recover general damages for long-term pain-and-suffering from any claimed injury, including repetitive motion claims that aren’t associated with a particular accident.
Standard workers’ compensation doesn’t provide for general damage claims in most cases. The policies only cover medical bills and wage replacement while the worker is rehabilitating from an injury. Some injuries never heal fully, and workers could be eligible for long-term disability compensation based on the type of policy.
Not only can private workers’ compensation policies only mimic standard protection, but the insurance company will also have significant input regarding benefit payment. They will often conduct a thorough investigation in an attempt to deny or lessen your claim’s value. This can be construed as bad faith tactics when an aggressive workers’ compensation attorney conducts a counter-investigation into the injury, including employer actions. Additional litigation could follow when rules are violated or bad faith can be proven.
When to contact a Georgia workers’ compensation attorney
Do you suspect your employer is attempting to reduce or deny your workers’ compensation injury claim? Your claim may be much more valuable than you realize.
Injured workers in Atlanta should always contact Gerber & Holder Attorneys at Law for comprehensive and aggressive legal representation. The attorney you choose can make a major difference in the outcome of your workplace injury case. Schedule your free consultation today.