Truck drivers may drive for themselves, or they may work for large trucking companies. In Georgia, any employer with more than three workers must maintain workers’ compensation coverage to pay for the medical bills and partial wages if any of their employees are hurt on the job. However, determining if there is workers’ comp for truck drivers in Georgia can be complicated.
If you are unsure whether you qualify for these benefits, you may need help from a skilled workers’ compensation attorney serving Atlanta and all of Georgia.
Your Rights to Compensation as a Georgia Truck Driver
If you are part of a company fleet operating in Georgia, your employer is legally obligated to provide workers’ compensation insurance if they have three or more employees. They may work with an insurance company or third-party administrator that oversees the program and pays the benefits.
If you are an independent contractor or an owner-operator, Georgia does not require you to purchase workers comp insurance. As a result, you may choose not to carry this coverage and be left with fewer options after an accident. However, you may still be able to file a third-party personal injury claim against anyone who contributed to your accident.
To fully understand all avenues for compensation, it’s valuable to speak with someone who knows the law and how insurance companies work. An experienced legal advocate can explain the circumstances that apply to your situation and help you decide how to proceed.
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How Workers’ Compensation Insurance Works in Georgia
Once an employee is injured, they must report the problem to their manager as soon as possible or within 30 days. The employer will notify the Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation, and the employee can file a claim to receive benefits.
Benefits include coverage of medical bills, partial weekly wages (two-thirds of your normal pay), and potential disability payments. Employees must be seen by company-authorized physicians in order for their bills to be paid by workers’ comp. They must also follow all doctor’s orders and return to work after they are released by their medical provider.
If you are totally or partially disabled on a permanent basis, you may be eligible for benefits to partially replace your income for an extended period of time. This may include lifetime payments if you are so severely injured that you cannot work at any job again.
Trucking Injuries that Can Qualify for Workers’ Compensation
The Georgia Department of Transportation estimates there are over 125,000 miles of roads in the Peach State, and truck drivers often feel as if they’ve covered every one of them. Long-haul trucks are a common sight in most Georgia towns and are frequently found on every major highway day and night. With the increase in demand for consumer products, the hours a driver spends behind the wheel put them at greater risk of injury.
Truck drivers can suffer serious injuries in a vehicle accident, such as broken bones, head trauma, internal bleeding, and organ damage. However, truckers are also prone to other physical ailments as part of their everyday work duties. The effort of managing and maintaining a big rig can lead to conditions such as:
- Overwork and exhaustion
- Head and neck injuries
- Muscle strains and tears
- Back, shoulder, and hip injuries
- Repetitive motion conditions
- Exposure to hazardous substances
- Blunt force trauma from falling tools or truck components
- Being hit by other vehicles while making repairs on the roadside
This isn’t a complete list of what’s covered under workers’ compensation. A good rule of thumb is that any injury or illness you experience in the course of performing your job can be claimed. The most important factors are that it happened at work and you reported it immediately.
Don’t Let Insurance Representatives Take Advantage of You
Like any insurance company, the workers’ compensation insurance provider will be on the lookout for fraud and false claims. Although you may have a genuine injury and deserve compensation, they are more interested in protecting their profits. They will ask you to jump through a lot of hoops before they approve your claim.
A great way to protect yourself from being taken advantage of is to speak with an attorney before giving recorded statements to the insurance company. The same is true if your employer wants you to sign a paper about your accident. You likely do not have a lot of background in the law or insurance, and you need guidance from someone who handles claims like yours every day.
Your workers’ compensation attorneys should handle the discussions and negotiations with your insurance company and employer throughout your claim. Even after you’ve begun receiving benefits, providers may try to reduce your payments or pressure you to return to work before you’re fully healed. A fierce lawyer will fight for the time and compensation you need to recover completely.
Disclose Any Pre-Existing Conditions to Avoid a Denial
If you’ve already had back pain or some other pre-existing condition, be sure to tell the company-authorized doctor about it during your initial examination. This allows them to accurately assess your injury.
It also prevents the insurance provider from saying you are trying to commit fraud. If you let them know about any old injuries or medical conditions, they cannot use this against you later if they discover information about it.
Act Quickly to File a Workers’ Compensation Claim in Georgia
So how long do you have to file a workers’ comp claim for a trucking injury? While state law requires that you report your injury to your employer within 30 days, you must act fast to secure your workers’ compensation benefits. The best action is to notify your manager or supervisor right away, at least verbally, but it’s better if your report is in writing.
After that, however, you must submit your claim for benefits within one year of the workplace accident if you received medical care. If you must file a third-party personal injury lawsuit because you’re an owner-operator, the statute of limitations in Georgia is two years from the date of the accident.
Missing these deadlines means you could lose your chance for compensation, whether through an insurance settlement or a personal injury lawsuit. When you rely on an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer in Georgia, they will help you avoid problems and get your claim submitted on time.
Learn More About Workers’ Compensation for Truck Drivers in Georgia
When you’ve been hurt driving a truck in Georgia, you shouldn’t have to fight for the compensation you are entitled to receive. Filing and pursuing a workers’ comp claim can be easier and more successful when you trust in the Strong Arm of Georgia.
At John Foy & Associates, we are dedicated to protecting your rights and getting you the help you need. We manage all aspects of the claims process and can aid you when you need more substantial legal representation. Contact us to schedule a free initial consultation and learn more today.