Workers’ Compensation is insurance that is mandated by the State of Georgia for employers of three (3) or more persons to carry for the benefit of workers. While workers’ compensation is often available to assist with work-related injuries, there are limits to the compensation available. It may be advantageous to also bring a third-party liability claim against someone other than your employer.
Work-related injuries and illness happen frequently and that is the reason workers’ compensation insurance is mandated. The benefit of the law is that workers’ compensation is available immediately to help pay medical bills and lost wages regardless of fault for injuries that happen while on the job. That means that workers’ compensation is available from day one to pay medical bills (you do not have to come out of pocket). Furthermore, so long as the injury is not related to drugs or alcohol (or something egregious), your employer or its insurer cannot deny you benefits by claiming you were at fault for the incident. Fault between you and your employer does not matter.
The drawback of Workers’ Compensation is that it does not provide full compensation to make you whole for what happened. There are limits on lost wages that you receive. There are no moneys available for your pain due to your injury. There is limited compensation for any permanent disability you suffer due to your injury.
Consequently, it is important to know your rights and options available to you, so you do not lose out on any potential compensation to aid in your recovery. You may miss out on a significant claim by using an inexperienced lawyer or a lawyer who only does workers’ compensation claims. Often, someone other than your employer (a third party) is at fault and can be held legally responsible. Making a claim against a third party does not impact your ability to recover workers’ compensation in the least.
For instance, if you are injured on the job while in an automobile wreck, you may have a claim against the at-fault driver who caused the wreck in addition to a workers’ compensation claim. If you were hurt on property not controlled by your employer, you may have third party claim against the owner/operator of the property where you were working. Additionally, if you were badly hurt by a machine or other equipment despite your intended/foreseeable use, you may have a viable third-party claim against the product manufacturer, seller, or servicer. Especially if you are suffering life-altering injuries, do not merely accept limited compensation afforded under Workers’ Compensation law.
The Baer Law Firm will work diligently on your behalf advising you of all options so that you can receive all the workers’ compensation benefits and any other compensation that may be available through a third-party.
Georgia requires all businesses with three (3) or more employees to carry workers’ compensation insurance. This includes regular, part-time, or seasonal employees. Even if an employer isn’t required to have workers’ compensation insurance, they may still opt to carry it.
As an employee, you are covered by workers’ compensation starting on the first day of work.
In Georgia, to qualify for workers’ compensation:
Typically, an injury or illness is considered work-related if an employee was doing something for the benefit of their employer and was injured or became ill as a result. Some injuries or illnesses are straight-forward, such as injuring your back lifting heavy merchandise. Other injuries or illnesses do not happen quickly, and the damage is done over time from work duties or exposure to hazardous conditions or substances at work. Some examples include carpel tunnel syndrome, respiratory illness, and cancer.
Report the injury or illness to your employer (boss, foreman, or supervisor) immediately. You may forfeit your benefits if it’s reported after 30 days have passed. Georgia requires an employer to file a claim within one year of when the accident occurred. The claim is filed with Georgia’s State Board of Workers’ Compensation.
Seek medical care. In Georgia, your employer must post medical care provider information in a visible place. Workers’ compensation should pay for authorized medical treatment. However, if you need medical care that your employer or its insurer is not providing, then you should contact a lawyer immediately. Frequently, workers’ compensation insurers downplay the severity of an injury and either refuse to authorize or are slow to approve necessary medical treatment. Unfortunately, it is sometimes necessary to engage the assistance of an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer just to obtain the necessary care to get better.
Even though a person can bring a workers’ compensation claim if injured on the job without showing fault, it may be advantageous to also bring a third-party liability claim. As discussed above, third-party liability claims are those caused by the negligent or reckless conduct of another. Third-party liability usually comes into play when an entity or individual – separate from the employer – caused a workplace accident. Unlike workers’ compensation, where proving fault is not required, a third-party liability claim requires the injured party to prove negligence or fault of someone who is not working under the supervision of your employer.
Evaluating a case to determine whether you have a valid workers’ compensation claim or third-party liability claim requires significant due diligence to assess the particular facts of the case and establish the necessary legal elements. If you have suffered an injury or illness while on the job, we encourage you to contact our office at The Baer Law Firm. We can help refer you to an excellent lawyer whose practice focus is in workers’ compensation claims and pursuing any third-party liability claim you may have. You have a limited amount of time to protect your rights. Call 404.THE.BAER (404.843.2237) or fill out our online contact form for honest advice about your legal matter.