Most employees in Georgia have access to workers’ compensation benefits—however, there are a few exceptions. It’s a good idea to know your options so you’ll know what to do after a work-related injury happens. With workers’ compensation, you can receive medical benefits, lost wage benefits, and more. This article will go over who qualifies for workers’ compensation in Georgia and what that means.
Which Workers Qualify for Workers’ Compensation in Georgia?
According to the Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation (SBWC), any business in Georgia with three or more regular employees must carry workers’ compensation. This includes full-time, part-time, and even seasonal employees as long as they work for the business on a regular basis.
Corporate officers in incorporated businesses count also count towards the “three or more employees” rule. Although officers are able to waive workers’ comp coverage for themselves, they still count towards the total.
There are a few exceptions to Georgia workers’ compensation laws, but most workers who fall under the above criteria are covered. It also does not matter how long you have been working for the company. You are covered from the first day of your job.
Workers Who Do NOT Qualify for Workers’ Compensation in Georgia
Exceptions to the workers’ compensation coverage requirements listed above include (according to Georgia Code § 34-9-2):
- U.S. government agencies
- Railroad carriers
- Farm laborers
- Domestic servants
- Employees of businesses with less than three regular workers
If you are a sole proprietor or run your business as a partnership, you are considered to be an employer—not an employee—under Georgia law. However, you can write to your insurance company and elect to be covered as an employee if you want coverage.
There are also specific situations where workers’ compensation may not cover an accident at work. For example, if the injury happened while the worker was using drugs or alcohol or during a fight at work, they may not be covered. However, these types of situations are rare and do not make up the majority of work injury cases.
What Workers’ Compensation Qualifies You to Receive in Georgia
Under workers’ compensation, you are entitled to the following benefits after a work injury:
- Medical benefits
- Lost wage benefits
- Vocational rehabilitation
- Death benefits
Medical Benefits for Treatment Costs
Any expenses you incur as a result of your work injury should be covered under workers’ compensation in Georgia. That includes:
- Hospital bills
- Doctor bills
- Prescription medications
- Necessary travel to and from appointments
If you have ongoing or future treatment needs, such as physical therapy, those should be covered too.
Lost Wage Benefits
A work injury can be very stressful because it takes you away from your regular source of income—and sometimes, you don’t know for sure when you’ll be able to return. You know your medical expenses are covered through workers’ comp, but what about missed work time?
If you are unable to return to work for at least seven days, you qualify for weekly income benefits. These benefits are paid at two-thirds of your regular weekly wage before the injury (capped at $675 per week). Your check should be sent out by mail within 21 days of the first day you had to miss work.
When you are able to return to work, if you must take a lower-paying job because of your work injuries, you can still qualify for reduced benefits. The weekly wage benefit will be two-thirds of the difference between what you earned before your injury and what you can currently earn. This is capped at $450 per week and can be received for up to 350 weeks from the date of your injury.
Sometimes, a work injury can cause certain impairments or disabilities that make it difficult to maintain employment. If you require vocational rehabilitation to help you adjust to a new way of work, its costs should be covered by workers’ compensation.
Workers’ Comp Death Benefits
Georgia workers’ compensation also provides benefits to dependents if a worker dies from a work accident. Dependents can receive two-thirds of the deceased worker’s average weekly wage (capped at $675 per week).
A deceased worker’s dependents can be their surviving:
- Children or
If the deceased worker has a surviving spouse but no children, the spouse can receive up to $270,000 total unless they remarry or cohabitate in a “meretricious relationship.”
Penalties for Not Carrying Georgia Workers’ Compensation
It’s more common than people think for businesses to not carry the legally-required workers’ compensation. If you are hurt at work and your employer says there is no workers’ comp, call an experienced Georgia workers’ compensation lawyer right away. A lawyer can look into the details and determine what is legal.
Any employer that neglects or refuses to carry a workers’ compensation policy is guilty of a misdemeanor crime. If your employer should have coverage but doesn’t, you may have grounds for legal action.
How to Get the Workers’ Compensation Benefits You Qualify for
To get workers’ compensation benefits, you will need to:
- Report the work injury to your supervisor within 30 days (but preferably as soon as possible)
- See a doctor who is authorized to give treatment under your employer’s policy (which you can choose from a list of at least six options provided by your employer)
- Complete and file a Form WC-14 with the SBWC within one year of the date of your accident(and send a copy to your employer and their workers’ comp insurance company)
- Keep track missed work time, especially if you will not be able to work for at least seven days and qualify for weekly wage benefits
It’s also a good idea to contact a trusted Georgia workers’ compensation lawyer in your area. Insurance companies are not excited about paying much on injury claims—even no-fault workers’ comp claims. If you experience any pushback from your employer or the insurance company, you will need a legal professional who can help you fight for your rights.
Talk to a Georgia Workers’ Compensation Lawyer for Free Today
Chances are, you qualify for workers’ compensation under your Georgia employer. However, getting access to the full benefits you deserve is sometimes difficult. At John Foy & Associates, we have been helping injured workers get the benefits they need for over 20 years—and we’re ready to assist you, too. Contact us today to get started with a FREE consultation where we’ll discuss your case and your options—risk-free. There is no fee unless we win you money. Call us today at (404) 400-4000 or contact us online for your FREE consultation.