Your workers’ compensation right if a coworker injures you on the job
If you are injured at work by a colleague or coworker, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits for medical bills and other damages. Generally speaking, most employees in Georgia can file a workers’ compensation claim if they were hurt while performing a task for your employer—even if the cause of the injury was a coworker.
The following questions will help determine if you’re eligible for workers’ compensation in Georgia. If so, reach out to our team at Gerber & Holder to get started on your claim.
Were you engaging in horseplay?
Horseplay is a colloquial term that describes friendly interactions between employees that aren’t sanctioned by an employer. For instance, your colleague might attempt to push you as a joke or throw an object at your head while you’re wearing a helmet. These actions could put you at risk of straining a muscle, breaking a bone or suffering a concussion.
As a general rule, the Georgia workers’ compensation system doesn’t cover injuries caused while goofing off with a colleague. However, it may be possible to file a personal injury lawsuit against the person who hurt you. It may also be possible to file a lawsuit against your employer if a manager or foreman failed to put a stop to the activities that led to your injuries.
When did the injury occur?
If you were hurt before or after a shift begins, it’s unlikely that you’ll qualify for workers’ compensation benefits. The same is likely true if you are hurt while on a lunch break.
Were you the victim of a premeditated attack?
In most cases, the workers’ compensation system doesn’t cover those who are injured in a premeditated attack. For example, you will typically file a personal injury lawsuit to recover damages incurred as the result of being intentionally struck in the face by an object.
The same might be true if a colleague deliberately pours acid on your body or takes other actions in an effort to inflict emotional or physical pain. This is because your injuries were caused by another person’s negligent actions. Negligence is generally defined as unreasonable conduct that violates the duty of care owed to others.
What to do after workplace violence
Here are the next steps to take after you’ve been injured by a coworker:
1. Notify your employer
It’s critical that you file an incident report with your employer, regardless of the circumstances that led to your injury. Reporting the incident to your manager can bolster the assertion that you were hurt on the job and “in the course and scope of your employment“, rather than while off the clock.
Be as thorough as possible when filling out an accident report. At a minimum, you’ll need to disclose when the accident happened, where it happened and who may have witnessed the events that led to your injuries. If you think of any relevant information after submitting the initial report, don’t hesitate to ask your employer for a chance to update it.
As a general rule, filing a false or misleading accident report could be considered fraud. Therefore, it’s in your best interest to be as forthcoming as possible, even if doing so might jeopardize your ability to obtain compensation.
2. Seek medical treatment
After filing an incident report, it’s important to seek medical treatment. Depending on the severity of your injuries, you may be sent directly to the hospital before you can file a report. Seeking treatment in a timely manner provides further proof that your injuries were caused by a colleague’s reckless behavior.
Note that symptoms of whiplash, internal bleeding or a head injury may take hours or days to present themselves. Therefore, you should seek medical treatment even if you feel fine in the immediate aftermath of a fall or blow to the head.
3. Follow your doctor’s recommendations
Your doctor may order you to refrain from driving, lifting heavy objects or standing for more than a few minutes at a time. Failing to follow these orders could make your injuries worse and prolong your recovery timeline. In some cases, it could jeopardize your chances of obtaining workers’ compensation benefits or a financial award in a personal injury case.
4. Consult with a work injury attorney near you
Our Atlanta workers’ comp attorneys will review your case and craft a custom legal strategy that maximizes your chances of obtaining a favorable outcome in your case. If you have received a settlement offer in your case, we can review its terms before you agree to them. In many cases, defendants are quick to offer settlement agreements in the hopes that you’ll accept less than what you may be entitled to by law.
Seeking legal help in the immediate aftermath of a workplace accident might make it easier to preserve your rights and obtain the money needed to pay medical bills or recoup lost wages.