In Georgia, nearly all employers are required to purchase workers’ compensation insurance for their employees in case a worker suffers an injury or accident in the workplace. Specifically, any employer with more than three workers is required to purchase workers’ compensation insurance for their employees. Coverage begins on the employee’s first day of work. Any injury suffered by a worker in the workplace while on duty doing assigned tasks can be covered by workers’ compensation. This includes any work-related illnesses that a worker might develop, or any work-related death. However, injuries suffered by workers during breaks, or during unassigned duties, are generally not covered by workers’ compensation.
Purchasing workers’ compensation insurance is a responsibility owed by the employer to the workers. But workers also have certain responsibilities under the state’s workers’ compensation laws as well, that they owe to their employer, the workers’ compensation insurance provider, or the Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation.
Employee’s Responsibilities Under Workers’ Compensation Laws
The basic underlying principle to an employee’s responsibilities under Georgia’s workers’ compensation law is to behave responsibly while at work. In order to do this, the Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation has offered some guidance for workers. Employee responsibilities include:
- Following workplace safety protocol and written rules, including complying with company procedures and policies. Workplace rules and safety procedure exist to reduce risk to workers and by following these rules and policies, workers reduce their chances of being injured on the job.
- Behaving responsibly in the workplace. Workers who are willfully reckless or negligent at work and become injured or killed may not be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. For instance, if a worker is injured as a result of his own willful intoxication on drugs or alcohol while at work, the worker may be ineligible for workers’ compensation. Similarly, if the worker was involved in horseplay, or fighting, and ended up in an accident, workers’ compensation benefits will likely be denied. Employers and insurance companies generally investigate workers’ injury and accident claims, to determine the cause of the injury or accident, and to identify ways to prevent it from happening again in the future.
- Reporting workplace accidents and injuries immediately when they do occur in the workplace. Reports can be made to a manager, supervisor, employer or employer’s representative and must be made within thirty days of the injury or accident. Failure to timely report an injury or accident can result in a forfeiture of workers’ compensation benefits. Workplace accident reports should be made in writing, organized, and should include as much detail as possible.
- Accepting reasonable medical treatment ordered when by the Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation. This includes treatment procedures and rehabilitation services. Failure to accept reasonable medical treatment can result in a loss of workers’ compensation benefits.
- Reporting change in status to the insurance provider or your employer, whichever is appropriate. Workers whose address changes while they are collecting workers’ compensation benefits need to report the address change to the insurance provider or their employer. Similarly, if a doctor approves a worker to return to work, the employee should report their approval to work to the insurance provider or employer since benefits may no longer be necessary. Also, if a surviving spouse has a change of address, or remarries, the surviving spouse must notify the insurance company or employer.
- If approved by a treating doctor to perform a job that is different than the worker’s preinjury job, the worker must attempt the job, even if the pay is less. Sometimes after an injury, a worker recovers enough to head back to work, but in a different, or lesser, capacity than before the injury. While this arrangement might not be an ideal solution for the injured worker, the worker has a responsibility to try his or her best to make the adjustment. Failure to attempt a different, doctor-approved job capacity can result in a loss of workers’ compensation benefits.
- Submitting all reimbursement requests for qualifying expenses, mileage and medical treatment, must be submitted to the insurance provider or employer, as appropriate, within one year of being incurred.
- Workers or their surviving dependents who believe that they are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits, but have been denied by the insurance company or employer, can file a claim with the Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation. Denied workers must file a claim within one year of their last authorized medical treatment, or two years from the last payment of income benefits. Surviving dependents must file their claim within one year of the worker’s death. Information concerning how to file a claim can be sought from the State Board of Workers’ Compensation, or an experience workers’ compensation lawyer can assist you with any aspect of filing a claim.
- Submitting to any requested drug testing after a workplace accident takes place. Workers who are injured, but refuse to submit to testing, will be presumed to have been under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the accident, and worker’s compensation benefits will be denied. Workers who do not submit to drug or alcohol testing do have an opportunity to provide other evidence as to their sober state at the time of the accident.
- Making only true and honest statements and claims for workers’ compensation. This includes when providing evidence or testimony at an administrative or appellate hearing. It is a crime to lie under oath. Workers who make false or misleading claims for workers’ compensation can be charged and convicted of a misdemeanor, fined and imprisoned.
Bader Scott Injury Lawyers: Contact an Atlanta Workers’ Compensation Lawyer
While employers often owe their employees a number of responsibilities under workers’ compensation laws, employees have certain responsibilities under the law as well. Workers who are responsible workers, but are unfortunately injured while at work, are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits for their injuries and lost wages. The Atlanta workers’ compensation legal professionals at Bader Scott Injury Lawyers are dedicated to helping Atalanta workers seek and obtain workers’ compensation when they need it. Let us help you get compensation for your injuries, so that you can focus on recovering. Contact us today.