In Georgia, if you are hurt at your job, you are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits for your medical expenses and lost wages. While most injuries you sustain on-the-job are automatically covered, there are exceptions. This article will cover what types of injuries are covered by Georgia workers’ compensation—and which ones are not.
Workers’ Compensation Laws in Georgia
Any business in Georgia with three or more regular employees is legally required to purchase a workers’ compensation policy for its workers, according to the Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation (SBWC). This means you are likely covered by workers’ compensation through your job.
Unlike personal injury claims in Georgia, where compensation depends on who is at fault for an accident, workers’ compensation claims fall under a “no-fault” system. It does not matter if you contributed to your work injury or not. If the injury happened at work, it should be covered, and you have the legal right to file a claim.
Injuries Covered By Workers’ Compensation in Georgia
Any physical injury that you suffer at work should be covered by Georgia workers’ compensation. The most common workers’ comp injuries we see involve:
- Vehicle accidents
- Repetitive motion or overexertion injuries
- Slip and fall accidents
- Industrial accidents
- Falling objects
- Machine-related injuries
More dangerous jobs tend to have the highest rate of serious workplace injuries. However, you can sustain an injury in any type of employment, including desk jobs. Don’t assume that your injury isn’t covered just because you don’t hold a “dangerous” position.
If you’re unsure about your work injury or are worried your employer won’t cover it, contact an experienced Georgia workers’ compensation lawyer to discuss your case. They can make sure you know your rights and how to get access to the benefits you deserve.
Instances Where Injuries Are NOT Covered Through Workers’ Comp
Although most work injuries are automatically covered through workers’ comp, there are rare situations where your benefits could be reduced or denied. Examples may include:
- Being under the influence of alcohol or drugs when your accident occurred
- Not following safety rules to prevent accidents
- Injuries from engaging in a personal fight not related to your employment
- Not using provided safety devices
- Injuries suffered while engaging in horseplay or practical jokes (unless you are the victim of said jokes)
- Injuring yourself or providing false information to receive benefits (Georgia Code § 34-9-19)
Of course, there is the chance that an employer or their insurance company could claim you were doing one of these things when you were not. If that happens, you should contact a workers’ comp attorney immediately.
Pre-Existing Conditions and Workers’ Comp
Pre-existing conditions can also make workers’ comp claims more complicated. If you already had an injury or condition that is worsened during a work accident, you might worry that it will disqualify you from coverage.
Thankfully, in Georgia, pre-existing conditions that are aggravated through your work are covered by workers’ compensation—as long as the condition leads to a disability. Your employer is only required to provide compensation until your condition returns to the state it was at pre-aggravation.
For example, say you have back problems that were aggravated during your work duties. Workers’ comp should cover treatment until your back issues improve enough to be how they were before your work made them worse. Your benefits are not meant to remove your back condition completely.
Certain jobs increase the risk of occupational diseases, which are conditions you’re more likely to develop because of your position. Since some occupational conditions can be stress-related or psychological, there are gray areas. It’s best to contact a workers’ compensation lawyer for help in this situation.
Injuries Outside of Work Hours
What about the types of injuries that happen when you are not actively working or “on the clock”? That depends on the details.
Typically, your injuries are still covered by workers’ compensation if they happen while:
- Running an errand for your employer
- On-call for your job
- Arriving or leaving from your employer’s parking lot
- Taking unscheduled rest breaks (in some situations)
- Traveling for business-related reasons
- Doing something ordered by your employer or business-related during a lunch break
Injuries away from work that are generally not covered by workers’ comp if you were:
- Traveling to and from work
- On your rest break or lunch break (unless engaging in work-ordered activities)
- At home not performing any work duties
There are exceptions to some of these rules. To make sure you don’t miss out on benefits you might be able to receive, it’s a good idea to talk with a workers’ compensation lawyer.
What About Psychological Conditions?
Psychological or emotional “injuries” typically fall under the category of pain and suffering damages.
While pain and suffering are often available in personal injury cases, they are not covered under workers’ compensation. However, if emotional injuries result from a physical injury or present themselves in a physical way (such as through migraines), they are likely covered through workers’ comp. Again, this is a concern to discuss with an attorney who understands Georgia workers’ compensation laws.
Workers Who Are Not Covered By Georgia Workers’ Comp
Besides specific injuries, there are also certain types of employees not covered by workers’ compensation. Those include:
- Farm laborers
- Railroad carriers
- Domestic servants
- Independent contractors
- United States government agencies
While these workers are exempt from workers’ compensation, they typically have similar benefits available through other means.
Protect Yourself After a Workplace Injury in Georgia
After being injured while doing your job, it’s understandable to assume your employer will have your back—and they should. However, it’s far too common for businesses to rush to protect their own interests (and their pocketbook) after a work accident. If this happens, don’t panic.
To protect your legal rights after a work-related accident, here are some things you should do:
- Report the injury to your supervisor immediately.
- Take pictures of the scene and your injuries.
- File a Form WC-14 with the SBWC, and send a copy to your employer and their insurance company.
- Talk to a Georgia workers’ compensation lawyer right away to let you know your options.
Talk to a Georgia Workers’ Compensation Lawyer for Free Today
While almost all injuries are covered by workers’ compensation, it can be hard to receive the full benefits you’re entitled to. John Foy & Associates can help you file a strong claim and fight for your rights. Let us give you a FREE consultation to discuss what to do next.
Call (404) 400-4000 or contact us online to get started with your FREE consultation today. We are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to take your call!