Every year, thousands of people are injured while on the job. In general, if an injury happens while you are working, it should be covered by workers’ compensation insurance. In Georgia, all employers with three or more employees must carry workers’ compensation insurance. If you work for a subcontractor, the contractor may be responsible if the subcontractor does not have coverage. The first step before you file a claim is to make sure that your injury is covered. You can get your questions answered by a qualified workers’ compensation lawyer in Savannah, Georgia.
Types of Injuries Covered Under Workers’ Compensation
There are various types of injuries that may occur while working. They usually fall into one of two categories. Injuries may be immediately caused by a specific action or they may be the result of a long period of repetitive actions. Seek medical care for all types of injuries that occur while at work.
Some of the most common immediate injuries occur from incidents such as falling off a ladder, slip and fall accidents, crush injuries, back injuries due to lifting and forklift accidents. Other injuries may be caused by repetitive actions. For example, you could suffer an injury that occurred as the result of moving your body in a specific way on a daily basis. These types of injuries may be more difficult to prove.
Will My Savannah, GA Claim Be Denied or Challenged?
If your injury occurred while at work you should be compensated for your medical expenses and for wages that are lost during your recovery period. It is important to note that employers may try to dispute or challenge your injury. They may try to say that your injury occurred outside of your working hours, that it happened while you were on a break or that it happened at home. Your employer may try to say that the injury happened because you did something negligent such as while participating in horseplay or while you were intoxicated or under the influence of drugs.
You and your workers’ compensation attorney need to prove that your injury happened at work and that you were not negligent. You should always report the injury to your supervisor or to human resources so that it cannot be disputed later. If there were witnesses to the incident, they may need to provide statements. Sometimes there is surveillance video of the accident. These pieces of evidence should be gathered as soon as possible so they are available to you. Your attorney will assist you in gathering the documentation necessary for your claim.
Insubordination or Work-Related Injury?
When an employee is injured at work, and management orders him to perform only “light duty” tasks, the employee must obey that instruction. If the employee disobeys and injures himself further, Georgia could deny the employee workers’ compensation disability benefits. The employer could argue that it fired the employee for insubordination, not because the employee was injured.
The Initial, Work-Related, Injury
A court considered insubordination as a defense in a recent case called Burch v. STF Foods, Inc. (2019). The employee worked at a Wendy’s as a fry cook, sandwich maker, chili cook and cashier. In addition, he helped clean up. In early January 2013, he hurt his upper back while trying to move a stock pot of chili. Later that month, on January 21, he strained his eyes and upper back and shoulder while trying to lift a bag of trash into a dumpster. The next day, the employee’s manager instructed him in writing not to lift anything and to ask other employees for help. The employer’s later defense of insubordination rested partly on that instruction.
Insubordination for Violating Light Duty Order
In February, the employee went to a doctor who told him to take three days off work and not to lift anything over 15 pounds for a week. In June 2013, the employee aggravated his back and shoulder injuries when he knelt down to clean out a cooler and a manager braced herself against the employee’s back while balancing. On November 19, a stack of boxes collapsed while the employee was unloading supplies and injured the employee’s back again. The manager instructed the employee to stay at his workstation while on duty. The manager also told him not to lift anything unless management gave him permission. But four days later, a manager saw the employee restocking supplies. In December, the employer fired the employee for insubordination.
Injury Caused by Insubordination
The Georgia Court of Appeals rejected the employee’s claim that there was some evidence to show that his claim was work-related. Instead, the court attributed the back and shoulder injuries to the employee’s refusal to obey orders to restrict his work to light duty.
The lesson? If you are injured and placed on light duty, be sure that management tells you what you may and may not do and follow the instructions. Otherwise, you might be ineligible to claim disability for your injury from workers’ compensation because of insubordination.
Help from a Savannah Workers’ Compensation Attorney
If you were injured on-the-job you probably have a lot of questions and concerns. Don’t count on your employer to help you with these issues. Instead, count on an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer in Savannah to guide you through the process. Your lawyer will always protect your rights and fight to get you the compensation you and your family deserve. To learn more about the process, call the respected workers’ compensation attorneys at Bader Scott Injury Lawyers today to schedule a free case evaluation.
Seth Bader is an Auto Accident and Personal Injury Attorney who practices in Atlanta, Rome, Savannah, Norcross, Carrollton, Georgia. He graduated from Florida State University College of Law and has been practicing law for 14 years. Seth Bader believes in fighting for the injured. Learn more about his experience by clicking here.