If you are injured in an on-the-job accident, you may immediately be concerned about how you will continue to support yourself and your family while you take time off of work. Thankfully, Georgia has strict workers” compensation laws in place that are designed to protect you.
Understanding these laws is critical if you hope to maximize your benefits and get your claim approved if it is initially denied by the insurance company. Here is more about the workers’ compensation laws in Georgia and what you can expect after filing your claim for benefits.
When Was Georgia’s Workers’ Compensation System Enacted?
Georgia’s workers’ compensation statute was first enacted in 1920. Before this, there was no way for employees to obtain any restitution, benefits, or financial support after suffering a work-related injury.
Instead, people would file a civil lawsuit against their employer. If they won, the settlement they received would frequently result in financial distress. For this reason, the workers’ compensation statute was enacted and offered protections to not only employees but employers as well.
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When Are Employers Required to Provide Workers’ Comp Coverage?
Georgia’s workers’ compensation law makes it mandatory for nearly every type of employer to purchase workers” compensation protection coverage. However, the rule only applies to companies with three or more employees.
Keep in mind that it does not matter whether employees are seasonal, temporary, part-time, or full-time. If a worker is classified as an employee, they should be protected by their employer’s workers’ compensation protection coverage.
You should note that self-employed individuals or work as independent contractors will not be protected by their client’s workers’ compensation protection coverage unless explicitly noted in their contract. You can purchase your own workers’ comp protection coverage if you want to protect yourself from an on-the-job injury.
What Are the Consequences of Not Having Required Workers’ Compensation Insurance?
Employers who fail to provide their employees with workers’ compensation protection coverage will face severe penalties. Not only can they face third-party liability lawsuits, but they can also be held accountable in criminal court.
There have been instances in Georgia where employers agreed to cover their employee’s medical expenses and other costs but did not have sufficient workers’ comp protection insurance. When this happens, the employer will face citations and a 10% penalty. They also should be prepared to pay court fees through civil liability claims brought forward by their employees.
However, employers can also face criminal penalties. If convicted, employers could spend up to one year in jail and be fined as much as $10,000 for failure to carry workers’ compensation protection insurance. For this reason, employers are often unwilling to put their business at risk and make wise decisions to follow the law and ensure their employees are protected accordingly.
Who Decides When Georgia Workers’ Compensation Benefits Are Paid?
The Georgia workers’ compensation system provides employers with several options for ensuring workers are paid specific benefits for they are on the job injuries. These options often include the following:
- The Workers’ Compensation Managed Care Organization – The Workers’ Compensation Managed Care Organization works alongside the Georgia workers’ compensation act to determine whether an employee should be paid workers’ comp benefits.
- The Board of Physicians – The Board of Physicians consists of six physicians who will then examine workers to determine the significance and severity of their injuries.
What Are Death Benefits?
If someone you love suffered fatal work injuries, you may have the right to receive death benefits. Generally, death benefits are available to the decedent’s surviving spouse and children. Children can be biological, foster children, or adopted.
Generally, children will continue to collect benefits until they reach the age of 18. In contrast, surviving spouses can continue collecting benefits until they reach the maximum number of weeks allowable, cohabitate with another person, or remarry. Generally, there is a cap of 400 weeks of death benefits or up to $270,000.
What Other Workers’ Compensation Benefits Are Available?
Workers’ compensation benefits are not only available to the surviving family members of those who pass away from work-related injuries. In fact, individuals who survive work accidents have the right to vocational rehabilitation benefits, medical benefits, and disability benefits.
Vocational rehabilitation benefits cover the cost of any other job training or education you might require so you can read into the workforce. This is typically available if your injuries will prevent you from returning to your previous line of work.
Medical benefits cover every single healthcare and work injury-related medical expense. This can include not only your ambulance bills, hospital stay, and treatment but any future medical care you might require as well.
Disability benefits are also commonly known as wage replacement benefits. They will generally provide work injury victims up to 66% of their average weekly salary. These can typically be collected until the injury victim reaches maximum medical improvement or can return to work.
How Long Do You Have to File for Workers’ Comp in Georgia?
According to the Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation, you have up to one year from the date of your accident to file for workers’ compensation benefits. One year may seem like plenty of time to pursue your case. However, when your injuries are catastrophic, and your mind is consumed with your recovery, the last thing you might consider is taking legal action.
For this reason, the sooner you get started on your workers’ comp claim, the better. This way, we can deal with potential workers’ comp claim denials and get you the benefits you are entitled to as soon as possible.
Get Help from a GA Workers’ Compensation Attorney Today
Accessing the workers’ compensation and benefits you are entitled to should not be a hassle. Unfortunately, the insurance company is unlikely to make it easy for you to obtain the benefits that are rightfully yours.
When you need help getting the insurer to overturn your denial, do not hesitate to contact a respected Georgia workers’ compensation lawyer at John Foy & Associates. Please fill out our online contact form or call our office to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation today and learn more about what is next for your workers’ compensation claim.