Georgia Entertainment Injury Law
Georgia Television and Movie Filming Injuries
At the beginning of the filmmaking industry in Hollywood, on set accidents were extremely common. The injuries and deaths resulting from film set accidents were overly frequent to the extent that hundreds of people died while thousands suffered injuries while shooting film scenes in just a year.
With time, the film industry has taken several measures in a bid to guarantee the safety of the whole filmmaking crew. Unfortunately, with viewers demanding more stunts in films, the risk for injuries is only worsening. Thus, accidents continue to occur. As a result, there have been cases of workers in the film industry, suffering severe injuries and even death while on set. Statistics show that between 20 and 40 people suffer severe injuries while filming in one year, and some die because of film set accidents.
At Gearhart Law Group, we represent workers who have suffered injuries in the Georgia entertainment industry. Whether you are working in the Georgia film industry as a stunt person, actor, or a member of the production team, you can trust our law firm in providing you with the best legal representation.
Common Film Set Hazards
In the creation of memorable movie scenes, dozens of people are usually involved when shooting film scenes. Unfortunately, such an environment becomes chaotic, and due to the chaos, accidents can quickly occur. Besides many people, movie sets also include massive props and set pieces. When they fall on the people around the set, such accessories and set pieces can cause serious injuries.
Unfortunately, movie scene accidents are common, with most of the incidents going unreported. Nevertheless, filmmakers can protect their staff and production assets by having an insurance cover. Such insurance covers the damages that result from the on-set accidents, in case they occur. There are many causes of film set accidents. The following are some of the most common causes of film set accidents.
- Faulty production equipment
- Unsafe cable wires
- Untimely emergency response in case of fires
- Broken or loose lights
- Lack of proper props and ear for intense and fast action scenes
- Weighty machinery and props
- Animal attacks
- Negligent co-stars
- Trips and falls
- Faulty prop weapons
At times, such accidents can lead to death. Recently, John Bernecker, an American stunt performer, lost his life after falling from a 20 feet height while filming The Walking Dead. In 2014, an assistant camera operator succumbed to her injuries while working on a film set in Georgia.
Stuntmen and actors are not the only ones at risk of on-set injuries. However, when they get involved in such accidents, the incidents make the news. Crew members and other staff can be victims of the on-set accident if anything goes wrong in the production. Nevertheless, such accidents make news fast when they involve famous actors. For instance, the news of the demise of Brandon Lee, son to Bruce Lee, spread quickly when he was fatally shot on The Crow set in 1993.
Georgia’s Workers Compensation Act
All work-related injuries ranging from scrapes to head, spinal cord, and even paralysis injuries are covered under Georgia’s Workers Compensation Act. According to the act, workers, including workers in the film industry, are entitled to certain benefits every week. The victims receive the benefits of whether the injury is permanent or temporary.
Types of Injuries
Georgia’s Compensation Act recognizes all kinds of injuries. These injuries fall into three categories, namely; Permanent Partial Disability (PPD), Temporary Partial Disability, and Temporary Total Disability. Payments for the three types of injuries depend on the time when the injury occurred.
Permanent Partial Disability (PPD)
Among the three types of worker’s compensation cases, PPD is the most common. PPD implies that the victim has some form of permanent disability because of a work-related injury or occupational disease. Due to the impairment, the worker is unable to perform their duty adequately, but they can still work.
The contrast between total and partial disability is that, in total disability, the victim cannot work. But, in partial disability, the victim can work, although not to their full capacity.
The most common injury under PPD is back injuries. The other work-related injuries include the loss of the sense of hearing, loss of a body part like a hand, loss of eyesight in one eye, nerve damage, and knee injury.
PPD compensation varies from state to state. In Georgia, the payment is given according to the disability schedule. Once an authorized doctor has given their diagnosis on the severity of the injury, the courts use it to determine the number of benefits that an injured worker gets.
The level of disability determines the benefit. For instance, a worker who has suffered a 50% disability as a result of the work-related injury will get a higher amount of benefit compared to a worker who suffered a 25% disability because of a work-related injury.
Apart from the level of injury, other factors like the loss of income earning ability in the future and the loss of current wages can also be taken into consideration when calculating the amount of benefits.
Permanent Disability Advances
If you cannot take care of your financial responsibilities as you wait for the PPD benefits, you can apply for an advance. The advance is usually given in lump sum, and its primary purpose is to help the injured worker take care of their necessities.
However, if you are capable of handling your financial responsibilities, you are likely not to receive the advance payment. Also, applying for the advance benefits has its disadvantages, which you have to consider before you apply for it. First, you may incur some charges when requesting the advance.
Another risk you incur when seeking the advance PPD is the loss of rights to appeal to the PPD compensation. To avoid these risks, it is best to get legal advice as well as representation from a reputable Georgia Television and Movie Filming Injuries attorney. A certified attorney will help you make an informed decision regarding the best course of action.
Temporary Partial Disability (TPD)
You may get TPD if you are earning less as a result of the injury you got while working. In this case, your income is compared to the pay you were earning before the injury. Once is it proven that you are earning less than you used to before the injury, you are entitled to TPD benefits. From when you were injured, you get the TPD benefits for a maximum period of 350 weeks.
Temporary Total Disability (TTD)
You are eligible for TTD when you cannot work at all because of the temporary work-related injury. Sometimes, the doctor may recommend light duty. However, when there are no light duties available for you, you can stay at home and still be eligible for TTD.
After applying for the TTD, you will have to wait for a week. After the week, or rather the waiting period, you will be eligible for the weekly checks. If you could not go to work because of your injury for about three weeks, you are still going to receive the benefits for the whole period.
Unless your claim is catastrophic, you will be receiving benefits for up to 400 weeks. This time is calculated from the date of the injury. In case your injury is catastrophic, you may get lifetime benefits.
However, the benefits will be reduced to a maximum of 78 weeks if your doctor recommends light-duty work. It is worth noting that Georgia is among the states with the lowest TTD rates in the United States.
A Catastrophic Claim
A catastrophic injury is an injury that brings about proximate and direct effects. This kind of injury causes permanent damage hence permanently preventing the victim from taking part in any income-earning activity. These injuries include trauma to the brain or spinal cord. Such injuries permanently affect the individual’s ability to function as they did before the injury. Severe burns are also classified under catastrophic injuries.
Generally, catastrophic injuries can be physical, cognitive, or spinal cord injuries. When one suffers such injuries, they can make a catastrophic claim and be granted lifetime benefits. Thus, the person receives benefits for the rest of their lives. With Gearhart Law Group attorney, you can seek and get the compensation you deserve after suffering a catastrophic injury like the loss of your limb while working on a film set.
Compensation in Case of Death
At times, injuries from the film set cause deaths. When this happens, relatives of the deceased can receive compensation. If the deceased had dependents, their dependents are the ones who will receive the death benefits. The dependents include the spouse and children of the deceased. The benefits include a maximum of $7,500 in burial expenses, the deceased medical bills, and weekly income to the dependents.
Georgian laws protect the dependents of the deceased by providing them with the death benefits. However, the dependents have to meet some conditions. The dependents include:
- Legally married spouse – Before receiving the benefits, the alleged spouse of the deceased has to prove that they are lawfully married to the deceased and that they were living together. In case they were living separately for 90 days before the death or injury of the deceased person, then their benefit claim can be denied. This is because the court may see the surviving spouse as not being dependent on the deceased. Likewise, spouses married under common law may be ineligible for death compensation.
- Biological or adopted children – In case the deceased had children, the children will receive the benefits. However, children aged 18 years and above have to prove that they cannot make a living due to some form of disability for them to receive the benefits. Children aged below 22 years can only receive the benefits if they prove that they are full-time students.
- Any other person – Anyone who proves that they depended on the deceased is also eligible to receive the benefits, for instance, an elderly parent of the deceased.
In case the deceased has no other dependents apart from their spouse, their spouse will receive a total of $150,000 in benefits until they are 65 years old. Alternatively, the spouse can receive the benefits for 400 weeks.
Workers’ Compensation Insurance
The law in Georgia requires that every employer has workers’ compensation insurance. This includes employers in the television and film industry. The insurance covers both part-time and full-time employees.
The workers’ compensation insurance covers workers who work daily as well as those who only work during the weekend. The insurance covers for the injuries that the worker may suffer while at the place of work. Thus, you must report the injury to your employer as soon as it happens. Regardless of the place of work, if you suffer injuries while at your place of work, your employer should reimburse you for the time that you spend outside of work as well as cover the medical bills.
Statute of Limitations
The statute of limitations refers to the timeframe that a plaintiff must file their claim. According to Georgian law, an injured party has up to a year to file for compensation. In case of a change in condition, the plaintiff has up to two years to file a claim. This timeframe is calculated from the time the compensation ended.
Besides, the injured worker has up to a year to submit their medical bill to their employer or the insurance company in charge of the worker’s compensation. This is when the injured worker seeks reimbursement.
Even though worker’s compensation benefits are generally tax-exempt, the payments may affect other disability payments. The best thing to do is to seek the assistance of an excellent attorney to guide through the whole process, so you do not find yourself on the wrong side of the law. At Gearhart Law Group, we help our clients to navigate the entire issue of compensation so they can have an easy time as they recuperate.
At times, the injured worker may qualify for the disability tax credit. This means that they are going to pay less tax. However, qualifying for the credit depends on several factors like residency, age, as well as the person’s total income.
Finally, it is worth noting that you can be eligible for compensation for a work-related injury, even if your employer is not responsible for the injury. This is because the worker’s compensation system does not focus on the party responsible for the accident. In exchange for the no-fault system, the worker loses the right to make a personal injury claim against the employer.
Headed by Beth Gearhart, our law firm, Gearhart Law Group, has attorneys with vast experience in dealing with various work-related injuries. We rely on our vast experience and expertise to represent injured Georgian television and film industry workers. When hurt or injured on a film set, do not hesitate to contact Beth Gearhart at Gearhart Law Group at (404) 445-8370 or [email protected].