Georgia workers very seldom realize the rights they are given under workers compensation laws in the state of Georgia. Most workers understand that their employer should pay for medical expenses if they are injured on the job. However most workers wait until an injury occurs before learning about the benefits that are available to them and how they can access these benefits. Many times workers will ask their fellow employees or their employer, but even they may not have to right answers about workers compensation. So to help those with questions about Georgia workers compensation laws, we at Bader Law firm have put together some of the most asked questions and answers dealing with workers compensation.
First, workers compensation is accident insurance which is in place to cover most of Georgia workers for injuries
and diseases that result from the workers employment. Before 1920, the only way a worker in Georgia could receive lost wages and medical compensation was to sue their employer. These cases usually took years to conclude and many times left the worker without compensation. Workers compensation laws were put into place to correct this situation and to give Georgia workers relief from the burdens of job related injuries, accidents and diseases. The key aspect of the workers compensation law expressed that the injured worker was entitled to benefits without regard to whose fault it was. The worker did not have to personally prove that their employer was at fault.
- Are all Georgia workers entitled to workers compensation if they have a job related injury?
Not necessarily. There are some types of workers who are not covered by Georgia’s Workers Compensation Act. These include farm laborers, most railroad workers, U.S government employees, independent contractors, and the employees of an employer who has three or less full time employees. However, it is best to assume that there is workers compensation for you even if it seems like you are in one of these excluded categories. Some employers will provide workers compensation voluntarily. If your employer refuses workers compensation to you, no matter your job area, you should still seek legal counsel from a workers compensation lawyer. A workers compensation lawyer will be able to give you sound legal advice and make a proper claim with the State Board of Workers Compensation.
- Are all possible “injuries” that I might be affected by in my employment covered under the Workers Compensation Act?
The term “injury” has a very broad definition given by the Workers Compensation Act. “Injuries” include sudden accidents such as falls, and also includes physical problems that appear gradually over time. Heart attacks and strokes where it can be proven that their employment cause the disabling condition can also be compensable. If an employee has a pre-existing condition that is made worse due to working conditions then they can be eligible for workers compensation.
- Does an injury have to occur suddenly in order for it to qualify as a compensable injury under workers compensation?
An injury does not have to come about suddenly to be compensable under the workers
compensation act. For example, arthritis due to heavy lifting, or loss of hearing from loud machine noises usually come on slowly. Lung damage from breathing chemicals or toxic fumes can cause severe damage over time. When you require medical care or become disabled and your working conditions are the cause, you should make a claim for benefits.
- Is there ever a time that I could be entitled to workers compensation benefits even though I was not actually doing my job when the accident occurred?
Yes in some cases this valid. Injuries that occur during sponsored work events such as social events or recreational events can be covered under the Workers Compensation Act. Injuries that happen while traveling between job sites, during training processes, or while “on call” status then you may be covered and entitled to benefits. These instances can be hard to prove and pose many legal questions. In these instances, one will benefit greatly by working with an experienced workers compensation attorney.
- If I do not comply with company safety rule and it causes me to have an accident, will I lose my workers compensation entitled and benefits?
It is possible that you could lose benefits, but not in every scenario. If the rule broken is there for your protection and you willfully broke it you could lose your benefits. This is the type of situation where speaking to an experience Georgia workers compensation lawyer would help in determining your entitlement availability.
- Can I lose my entitlement to workers compensation benefits if I break the law?
You may lose benefits by breaking the law. If you were driving a work vehicle and failed to see a red light and cause an accident, you would not lose coverage. On the flip side, if you were caught drag racing in a company vehicle and cause an accident then you can lose your coverage.
- What are other ways that I could possible lose my entitlement to workers compensation benefits?
There are many instances where you could lose your workers compensation benefits. If you are intoxicated, use illegal drugs, willfully refuse to use safety gear, or act in misconduct willfully then you could lose your entitlement to benefits. Also if you purposefully refuse proper medical care and treatment then your benefits may be taken away from you. Refusing to submit to alcohol or drug testing can be grounds for disallowing benefits.
- I sustained an injury while working for a subcontractor and he did not have workers compensation coverage for his workers. Am I able to make a claim against the contractor? Yes you can file a claim against the contractor, however this is a difficult legal situation. Good legal advice from a Georgia workers compensation attorney is essential in this type of situation.
- I have a job related injury or disease and I am unable to work. How much can I expect my weekly benefits to be?
The maximum weekly disability benefit is two-thirds the employee’s average weekly pay or a maximum of $350.00 per week.
- What does “average weekly wage” mean and how is it calculated?
The average weekly wage is figured by adding your total wages before deductions in the 13 weeks prior to your disability date and then divided by 13. Gross wages in this equation should include the value of tips, food, housing or other compensation you receive from your employment. If you are a new employee and have not worked 13 weeks yet, then there are other ways of computing your average weekly wage.
- How long can I collect workers compensation benefits?
The maximum period for workers’ compensation payments is 400 weeks from the date of the injury. However, the 400 week period does not apply to “catastrophic” injuries. Catastrophic injuries are pretty specific in the state of Georgia. These include loss of limb, paralysis, traumatic brain injuries, and becoming blind from injuries.
As one can see, there are many different factors that go into filing a workers’ compensation claim. Understanding the inner workings of Georgia workers’ compensation laws can be extremely complex and time-consuming. Our skilled Georgia compensation attorneys at Bader Law firm are up to date on all workers’ compensation laws and are here to help you fight for your rights. We are compassionate and understand the burdens that go along with being injured on the job. Let our skilled professionals answer your workers’ compensation questions and help you navigate through this difficult legal process.