See the following requirements to learn if you deserve compensation for a workplace accident.
As a no-fault system, workers’ compensation is one of the best forms of recourse that injured workers in Georgia have at their disposal. You may be eligible to receive payment as long as the illness or injury was not caused by reckless or negligent behavior. Other possible circumstances that are covered by workers’ compensation include willful employer misconduct, unsafe work conditions or repetitive movements or unintentional actions.
When you file for workers’ compensation in Georgia, there are 4 basic conditions you must meet:
- Your injury or illness must be work-related.
- Your employer must have a workers’ compensation policy. (If they don’t and are required to, then you may be able to sue them.)
- You must be an employee of the company.
- You must meet all deadlines for reporting the injury, as well as filing a claim.
Here is a little more you need to know about each of these workers’ compensation requirements:
1. Work-related injury or illness
An injury or illness is considered work-related when it occurs because of work done for an employer. Some examples of injuries or illnesses that are legitimate reasons for compensation include employer misconduct that results in injury, hazardous work conditions, a repetitive movement (like typing or lifting) that results in an injury or an unintentional action on your part that causes harm.
However, even though the Georgia Workers’ Compensation Bill of Rights provides protection, there are limitations for some types of situations. State law doesn’t allow for compensation under these circumstances:
- Before or after the time you became an employee of the company
- Injuries caused by fighting, roughhousing and similar behavior
- Alcohol or drug use
- Self-inflicted injuries or willful misconduct
When you’re legally entitled to compensation, your employer might not be willing to let you have the maximum amount you’re entitled to receive. In this scenario, having a workers’ compensation attorney on your side will help give you the resources that you need.
2. Workers’ compensation policy
Almost every Georgia employer is required to carry a workers’ compensation policy. State law requires coverage for 3 or more employees, even if the work is seasonal or part-time. LLC companies and corporations must also have such a policy, even if they have fewer than 3 employees.
Farming businesses, railroads and local government agencies aren’t required to carry workers’ compensation. Also, there are no workers’ compensation benefits available for independent contractor because contractors work as both an employee and employer.
3. Compensation only for employees
Georgia follows a classification system that distinguishes between employees and independent contractors. Some of the things that help define the distinction between the 2 types of workers are:
- Employees receive instruction on how to do work, whereas contractors are told what to do but not how to do it.
- Employees receive benefits like pensions or insurance, whereas contractors have a written contract.
- Employees might be reimbursed without having a business stake in the company, whereas contractors have a business interest in the work without reimbursement.
The Georgia Department of Labor is careful about the distinction between employees and independent contractors. You should know your employment status before you file a work injury claim.
4. Meeting all filing deadlines
To file a workers’ compensation claim in Georgia, you must meet specific filing deadlines. In most cases, you have until a year from the date of the accident or illness to file your Notice of Claim. Two exceptions that allow for a deadline extension include your continued ability to work after the injury or illness or your employer providing medical care.
These guidelines also include cases where a work-related injury or illness aggravates a pre-existing condition. When you have any uncertainty about whether your claim is within the statute of limitations, consulting an attorney is your best course of action.
How a Georgia workers’ compensation attorney can help you
Gerber & Holder Attorneys At Law is ready to help you. With offices in both Atlanta and Athens, our experience allows us to help workers in hazardous industries and office jobs. Many incidents on the job include hip and other joint injuries, back and neck injuries or head and brain injuries. We understand how complicated the workers’ compensation process is and will fight for you.