Every employee has the right to a workplace environment that does not jeopardize health and safety. However, many workers are exposed to the potential for catastrophic injuries every day due to negligent or wrongful acts on the part of employers, product manufacturers, and co-workers. The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) has put regulations in place to govern workplace safety. When employers violate these rules by cutting corners, using dangerous equipment and substandard materials, or forgoing safety procedures, the result is often injured employees.
Workplace Injury in Atlanta, GA
Illnesses or injuries caused by events or exposures that take place on the job are defined as work-related injuries. These injuries directly result from specific job tasks, and they happen at work. In general, workplace illnesses or injuries are physical, but they can also be psychological in nature.
Georgia employees who are injured at work may receive compensation from the employer for medical expenses and lost wages. There are federal and state laws in place requiring employers to cover employees with workers’ compensation insurance to help with recovery from a workplace illness or injury. Independent contractors fall into an occupational category that is not included in workers’ compensation laws. If these employees are injured in the workplace, they could be eligible to file a lawsuit against the employer for injuries received due to safety regulation violations.
When Injuries are Work-Related
In order for an injury to qualify as work-related, it absolutely must have occurred during the employee’s performance of job duties or while doing a task for the employer. This needs to be provable if a future workplace injury lawsuit on behalf of the employee is to be successful.
To help determine whether an employee’s injuries are work-related, the following factors should be considered:
Injuries that happen when an employee is on lunch break are not generally considered to be work-related unless they happen on company property like a cafeteria or if the employer is somehow involved.
- Injuries that happen at company events like picnics, social events, or parties are generally considered to be work-related. If an employer does not expect employees to attend such functions, though, some states will provide exceptions to the work-related injury correlation.
- Injuries due to work duties that cause a preexisting condition to worsen are generally considered to be work-related.
- Injuries that happen while commuting to and from work are generally not categorized as work-related. Exceptions exist, however, and include: when an employee drives a company vehicle, or uses his or her personal vehicle for company business, or travels for business, or performs a special task for the employer, or regularly has to travel for work, or does not have a specific, fixed worksite.
- Injuries that happen when an employee fails to follow workplace safety regulations are still considered to be work-related in some states, depending on the degree of misconduct and on Georgia laws.
- Injuries that happen over time such as occupational diseases and stress injuries can be deemed work-related and covered by workers’ compensation. Proving that psychological illnesses or long-term physical injuries are work-related can be difficult. Each state’s exceptions and rules vary, particularly in regard to stress or emotional injuries.
If you have been injured at work and need help proving that the injury was indeed work-related, a workplace injury lawyer in Atlanta, GA can help.
Workers’ Compensation For Atlanta Workers
Financial assistance is available for Atlanta, GA employees who have lost pay due to an illness or injury they contracted while on the job. Workers’ compensation is available in most states, but the laws regulating the program do vary by state. Injured workers can receive compensation for lost wages and expenses related to necessary medical treatment.
There are some trade-offs, as with most systems. An injured worker may begin receiving payments rather quickly, but there is frequently a limit to the total amount one can receive. In addition to capping the total amount, limitations also regulate how long payments can be made.
This form of compensation is not the same as disability insurance or unemployment benefits. Each of the latter two forms of assistance will be paid regardless of whether the employee was hurt at work or elsewhere. Workers’ compensation, though, is only paid for injuries occurring at the workplace or during work-related activities. Additionally, this is not the same as health insurance that covers non-work-related injuries.
Workers’ compensation benefits are not automatically granted. An employee can be denied benefits from the insurance company that manages the benefits. An appeal may be necessary. At this point, the value of a highly-skilled workers’ compensation attorney can clearly be recognized.
The Atlanta, GA workers’ compensation lawyers at The Eichholz Law Firm have experience stepping in where an injured worker is being wrongly treated by an insurance company. We have a track record of successfully turning the situation around. Having proper knowledge, tools and techniques can make all the difference in the world. We are set in all these categories to consistently meet deadlines, properly handle documents and forms, and easily negotiate with monolithic insurance providers.
Types of Workers’ Compensation Benefits
There are four types of benefits within workers’ comp coverage: medical, income, death and burial.
- Medical – Benefits provide for reasonable medical care necessary for the treatment of a work illness or injury.
- Income – Benefits provide a portion of the wages that are lost due to a work-related illness or injury. In cases of permanent impairment, benefits are also paid.
- Death – Benefits are paid to qualified surviving family members of employees killed at work.
- Burial – Benefits cover a portion of funeral and burial expenses for deceased workers.
No benefits are provided through workers’ compensation for pain and suffering. This is where your workers’ compensation lawyer in Atlanta, GA comes in. By filing a work injury lawsuit, a worker is able to claim damages for pain and suffering.
Workplace Accident Laws in Georgia
Georgia is among the states with a no-fault statutory system. In essence, this means that regardless of whether or not employees contributed to their own injury, they are still eligible to receive benefits. Any person who is a W2 employee is covered by workers’ compensation insurance. Georgia’s public and private employers alike, with a few exceptions, are required to provide this coverage for all W2 employees provided there are three or more (including family members) who work full or part-time hours. This coverage is not extended to independent contractors.
Specific employment types are frequently not covered through workers’ compensation. Below is a partial listing of industries exempt from Georgia’s Workers’ Compensation Act:
- Farm laborers
- Railroad carriers
- Independent contractors
- Domestic servants
- Government agencies
The Georgia Department of Labor requires Atlanta employers to immediately investigate after an employee is injured on the job. The company should then be prepared to supply facts about the incident to the insurance company upon request. State law mandates that employers notify the insurer of all injuries to employees, no matter how minor.
Getting Help From a Workplace Injury Lawyer in Atlanta, GA
Because on-the-job accident situations can become quite complicated over time, it is not unusual for injured workers to seek counsel from an experienced legal representative with extensive knowledge of the process. The legal team at The Eichholz Law Firm has firsthand experience in bringing such cases to a successful and desired result.
The following list provides some specific circumstances where an injured worker would likely benefit from contacting an Atlanta, GA workplace injury lawyer:
- When there is a preexisting condition
- When permanent disability is disputed
- When an injury negatively impacts an employee’s ability to work
- When proper treatment is not given to an injured employee
- When government benefits are already received by an injured employee
- When a workers’ compensation claim is denied
- When a meeting with workers’ compensation representatives is pending
An on-the-job injury can range from very minor to life-altering. In a moment of time, the remaining portion of an Atlanta employee’s life can be tragically affected. Future medical expenses and lost earning capacity can create severe stress and strain on a family. Having legal counsel who can help ease the ensuing financial strain is immeasurable.
Contact us today for a free consultation. Our office is located at Hurt Bldg, Hurt Plaza SE #1515, Atlanta, GA 30303.