The workers’ compensation system is a no-fault insurance system whereby employees give up their right to sue their employers for personal injuries in civil court in exchange for a fixed set of benefits they will receive if they are injured on the job, regardless of fault. If an injured employee were to sue his or her employer for personal injuries in civil court, he or she would have to show fault on the part of the employer and prove all the elements of a personal injury claim, while the employer would be able to defend itself using every legal defense available. In those cases, the injured worker might be able to recover more than he could get through workers’ compensation benefits, but, then again, he could end up getting nothing at all. The workers’ compensation solves this problem by barring personal injury suits by employees against their employers, but guarantees compensation to injured employees.
Each state runs its own workers’ compensation system and has different requirements for participation in the program.Here, we’ll take a look at Georgia’s.
Georgia Workers’ Compensation Eligibility
Georgia state lawrequires all employers who employ three or more workers to carry workers’ compensation insurance. Note that the operative word here is “employee,” which excludes independent contractors, volunteers, and domestic workers. Federal employees and railroad workers are also excluded from the state system because they are covered under separate federal workers’ compensation laws and programs.
In order to qualify for benefits , the employee simply must have been injured during working hours, not including lunch, breaks, and commuting to and from work. The types of “injuries” the program covers are very broad and include virtually all injuries other than those caused by the employee’s own willful misconduct. Once an employee is injured, he or she is required to report the accident within 30 days to the employer and must accept all medical treatment and rehabilitation services that are ordered by the State Board of Workers’ Compensation, including drug tests.
Georgia Workers’ Compensation Benefits
Georgia’s state workers’ compensation program provides compensation for all authorized doctor bills, hospital bills, rehabilitation, physical therapy, prescriptions, and necessary travel expenses. The program will also pay weekly income benefits if the worker has more than seven days of lost time due to the injury. For more serious injuries that require longer-term care, the program provides compensation depending on whether the injury is considered catastrophic or non-catastrophic. Catastrophic injuries are those that involve:
- Severe paralysis
- Severe head injuries
- Severe burns
For these types of injuries, the program will pay the employee two-thirds of his or her weekly salary up to the maximum allowed by the law for as long as he or she is unable to work. All other injuries are non-catastrophic injuries, and for these the program will pay the employee two-thirds of his or her weekly salary up to the maximum allowed by the law for no longer than 400 weeks.
Contact an Atlanta Workers’ Compensation Attorney
For more information about the Georgia workers’ compensation system and whether you may be eligible for benefits, contact the attorneys at Slappey & Sadd for a free consultation by calling 404.255.6677. We serve the entire state of Georgia, including Norcross, Lithonia, and Woodstock.