Busting popular myths, misconceptions and stigmas surrounding workers’ comp
If you’re injured while working in Georgia, then odds are you can benefit from the financial compensation provided by workers’ compensation. These monetary benefits can help you and your family pay monthly bills that you have while you’re out of work, as well as medical bills and treatments that you might have. This allows you to focus on healing safely until you’re able to go back to work.
However, there are a few myths, misconceptions and stigmas associated with workers’ compensation that keep individuals from filing for the benefits they deserve. These myths often benefit the employer or insurance company, at the expense of injured workers.
Myth #1: You have to be performing a specific task when injured to get compensation.
You can receive workers’ compensation any time you’re on the clock or employed for the company. This means that you can receive benefits for injuries that are not related to your specific job duties as long as you’re still employed with the company.
For example, if you slip on a wet floor and sustain injuries while inside your place of employment, you generally still qualify for workers’ comp—even if you were walking to the bathroom or taking a break from your work duties.
Myth #2: You can’t file a workers’ comp claim if you were hurt outside of your office or job site.
Although it’s often easier to obtain workers’ compensation for injuries and accidents that arise while you’re at your place of employment, it’s not a requirement for obtaining benefits. For instance, if you have a job that requires you to drive a vehicle or that requires you to go to other properties and you are injured while you’re on the road or while you’re at the other location you were asked to go to, then you may still file for workers’ compensation.
An attorney can review your claim and determine if you were performing work for your employer at the time or if you were taking part in a leisure activity when you were injured.
Myth #3: Workers’ comp is your only source for recovery.
Another myth is that the only option you have is workers’ compensation if you’re injured while working. This misconception arises because workers’ comp is called an “exclusive remedy,” which means you generally can’t sue your employer if workers’ compensation is provided (except in rare circumstances).
However, in the event that someone else outside of work was involved in the accident, you may be able to file a third-party negligence claim against that person.
Most so-called “third-party” claims involving other people are personal injury cases. An experienced attorney can put together a claim that includes compensation for pain and suffering and other damages not covered by workers’ compensation if you make the decision to file against another person.
Myth #4: Your employer is looking out for your best interests.
After filing for workers’ compensation and being approved, you shouldn’t expect that your employer will work to provide the maximum benefit allowed. Many employees believe their employer would want them to be able to provide for their household while they are out of work. In reality, many employers (or their insurance company) will only pay out the bare minimum in order to save as much money as possible.
Most of the time, the benefit payments that you receive will be from the company’s insurance provider instead of from your employer. So even if you have a good working relationship with your boss, understand that they might not have any say over your work injury claim and how much you are awarded. In order to obtain the maximum benefits, you will likely need to seek the assistance of an attorney who can represent your best interests to insurance companies.
Myth #5: You can be fired for filing a workers’ compensation claim.
While Georgia is an at-will state (meaning they can choose to let go of an employee for virtually any reason), discrimination based on physical conditions or your mental health is also illegal — as is being explicitly fired for seeking workers’ compensation.
If you believe you were fired based on these reasons, then you can consult with an attorney to seek assistance in filing a claim against your employer.
Myth #6: You can’t afford to hire a work injury lawyer.
Although you’ll be asked to pay a fee to your attorney for the work provided on your claim, you will generally not need to pay your attorney out of pocket. Most attorneys won’t request a fee until your claim is filed and approved. If you don’t receive money, then you don’t have to pay fees to your attorney. This is known as a “contingency” fee.
You may have to file an appeal if your claim isn’t approved. In this instance, you would then pay your attorney the fees owed from the money received if the appeal is won. You also have the option to talk to your attorney about the fees that would be owed from your settlement before agreeing to hire the firm to represent you.