If you get injured or contract an illness because of your job, you may be eligible for financial benefits known as workers’ compensation in Georgia. Like all 50 states, Georgia has some version of the workers’ comp program to pay for employees’ medical care and other losses related to an occupational injury or illness. Find out what the requirements are in Georgia for collecting workers’ compensation to better understand your recovery options.
First, you must be a covered employee to be eligible for benefits. Not everyone – not even all employees – in Georgia are eligible for workers’ compensation insurance. In Georgia, the law only requires employers with three or more employees to provide workers’ compensation insurance. If you work at a small company with less than three employees, check to see if this type of insurance is available to pay for your injury, as it will be optional for your employer.
It is also important to understand whether you are classified as an employee or an independent contractor/sole proprietor. If you are self-employed, you are ineligible for workers’ comp in Georgia. You will only receive this type of protection if you are classified as an employee. If you believe that your employer has misclassified you as an independent contractor to avoid offering benefits, contact an employment lawyer for advice.
The second requirement is that you were performing job-related tasks at the time of your injury or exposure to something that made you ill. You do not necessarily have to have been at work to qualify for workers’ comp; if you were performing occupational tasks or duties outside of your workplace (e.g., as a delivery driver or during a work trip), you can still qualify for benefits. Proving that your injury or illness is an outcome of your job can be more difficult in certain situations, however.
The third requirement is to follow the procedures and filing processes that are required by law in Georgia. Even if you qualify as a covered employee, you could give up the right to collect workers’ comp benefits if you miss one or more filing requirements. This includes Georgia’s requirement to report a job-related injury or illness to your employer within no more than 30 days (with some exceptions) of the accident. Although notifying your employer in writing is preferred, simply telling your employer or manager that you have been injured will meet the state’s requirement.
Most insurance companies reject workers’ compensation claims brought by employees who do not have official medical records proving that their injuries or illnesses exist. You must go to a doctor or hospital as soon as possible after a workplace incident to receive professional medical care. Then, you must submit your medical records to your employer’s insurance company to prove that your injuries are real, as well as to establish how much you need in medical payment insurance benefits. If your injuries do not constitute an emergency, make sure that you go to a doctor on your employer’s approved list, if necessary.
If you receive a letter notifying you that an insurance company has rejected your workers’ compensation claim in Georgia, you may be able to appeal the denial with assistance from an attorney. Contact a workers’ compensation lawyer in Atlanta as soon as possible to discuss your rights in this situation.
If a lawyer believes that an insurance company has made a mistake or wrongfully rejected your claim, he or she can help you file an appeal. If your injury or illness was caused by negligence or a wrongful act, your lawyer can also help you explore the option of filing a personal injury lawsuit in Georgia. An attorney can guide you through the recovery process from start to finish.