Most employers in Georgia are required to provide their employees with workers’ compensation protection coverage. If your employer does not supply this insurance and you suffer an on-the-job injury, you may have the right to take legal action against them. After all, you should not be forced to deal with the ramifications of your injuries when your employer should have protected you with sufficient insurance coverage.
Here is more information you need to know when you might have the right to sue your employer for not having workers’ compensation benefits and what to expect from the claims process.
Georgia Workers’ Comp Laws Demand Your Employer Protect You
Any employer with more than three employees must carry workers’ compensation insurance coverage under Georgia law. This insurance covers employees whether they are temporary, part-time, full-time, or seasonal. As long as a staff member is considered an employee of the company, they should be protected by their employer’s workers’ comp insurance protection.
This way, if you are involved in a work-related accident, you do not have to worry about losing out on the total amount of your pay. Workers’ compensation will ensure you stay afloat during these difficult times so you do not end up in financial ruin. The benefits help you eventually return to work if your injuries allow it.
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Workers’ Compensation Benefits You Should Be Entitled to Receive
Georgia workers’ compensation laws require insurance companies to provide work injury victims with multiple benefits. The benefits you can expect to collect will be based on the severity of your injuries and the extent to which you are considered disabled.
Generally, you can continue receiving workers’ compensation benefits until you reach maximum medical improvement (MMI) and can return to work. However, there may be limitations on how long you can collect workers’ compensation benefits based on the type of injury you are diagnosed with. With that in mind, examples of the benefits the insurance company is supposed to provide you with when you are involved in an on-the-job accident include:
The insurance company should cover every healthcare cost of your injuries. They should pay for your ambulance bill, co-pays, medical treatment, ongoing medical care, future medical treatment, and any other expenses you incurred due to your work-related injury.
Vocational Rehabilitation Benefits
When your injuries are so severe that you cannot continue in your current line of work, vocational rehabilitation benefits should be available so you can go back to school or obtain further job training. This way, you can re-enter the workforce and continue to provide for yourself and your family despite suffering a work-related injury.
Wage Replacement Benefits
While you cannot work, you will still have regular monthly household expenses that need to be paid. Fortunately, the insurance company is supposed to provide you with disability benefits that amount to approximately two-thirds of your average salary. While this does not repay you for your total loss of income, it is a means of paying your bills while you recuperate from your work injuries.
If someone you love passes away due to an on-the-job injury, you as a spouse or child may have the right to death benefits. These are designed to provide surviving family members with financial support and cover the decedent’s medical expenses and funeral and burial costs.
What Happens When You Do Not Have Access to Workers’ Compensation Benefits?
Unfortunately, it is more common than you might think for companies to fail to abide by Georgia workers’ compensation laws. When this happens, you cannot file a claim with your employer’s workers’ compensation protection provider.
If you are an independent contractor, you may have your own workers’ compensation coverage. If this is the case, you could file a claim with your workers’ comp insurance provider and access the benefits you are entitled to receive.
However, if you are a traditional employee and your employer does not carry workers’ comp despite being required by law, you may have the option of filing a civil lawsuit against them. When you collect workers’ compensation benefits, you generally give up your right to file a third-party liability claim against your employer.
Workers’ compensation benefits are generally available no matter who is responsible for causing the accident. However, if your employer does not have this coverage, you can hold them accountable for your injuries and access the total value of your losses.
Employer Consequences for Failure to Protect Employees with Workers’ Comp Insurance
If your employer does not protect you with workers comp coverage, they could be at risk for several penalties and sanctions, including:
- Being ordered to pay a 10% increase in your pay
- Criminal charges that are punishable by fines of up to $10,000 and one year in a Georgia state prison
- Being ordered to compensate you for your damages in whole through a civil lawsuit
- Being ordered to pay fines as ordered by the court
Recoverable Damages in a Personal Injury Lawsuit
When you file a personal injury lawsuit against your employer, you are not limited in the rights and amounts of compensation you can be awarded the way you are when you receive workers’ compensation benefits. Some examples of recovered damages due to a work injury include:
- 100% of your lost wages
- Diminished quality of life
- Disfigurement and skin scarring
- Emotional trauma
- Healthcare costs
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of employee paid time off or other benefits
- Loss of potential earnings
- Pain and suffering
- Reputational damage
Explore Your Legal Options by Calling in the Strong Arm Today
if your employer did not have workers’ compensation coverage as they were legally required to, you may have the right to file a lawsuit against them to recover your damages fully. While workers’ compensation benefits may have covered your medical bills and provided you with wage replacement benefits, when you file a lawsuit, you have a better opportunity of recovering compensation for every loss you experienced in your work-related accident.
Learn more about your legal options when you call in the Strong Arm in Georgia. Contact John Foy & Associates today for a 100% free consultation. You can reach us through our online contact form or by phone to get started as soon as today.