What Is Workers’ Compensation?
The Workers’ Compensation system in the state of Georgia was created to help benefit workers who are injured on the job or while they are performing job-related duties on behalf of their employer. The primary goal of workers’ compensation is to help injured workers quickly recover from their injuries and return to the workplace. The workers’ compensation system is designed to benefit both employers and their employees.
Georgia Workers’ Compensation as an Exclusive Remedy
One important fact to keep in mind regarding workers’ compensation cases in Georgia is that workers’ compensation is a “no-fault” system. Under this “no-fault” system, an injured worker does not have to prove that their employer was at fault in any way for their injury. Overall, despite being an exclusive remedy, the workers’ compensation system is quite effective and Georgia employees, more often than not, stand to benefit from the way that this system operates.
In fact, in many cases, an injured worker is still eligible for workers’ compensation benefits even if they are at fault to some extent for their injury. For example, a Georgia employee who is injured while slipping and falling from a ladder can still be eligible for benefits—even if there was nothing wrong with the work ladder.
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The drawback to the Georgia workers’ compensation system being an exclusive remedy for work injuries is that you cannot bring a case in the civil court system for your work injury unless certain unique circumstances apply. One of the significant differences between the workers’ compensation system and personal injury cases brought in the Georgia civil court system is that compensation for pain and suffering is not included in workers’ compensation cases.
It is crucial to note that injured workers cannot opt-out of this exclusive remedy provision and cannot waive their right to file their case in the workers’ compensation system to attempt to file their work injury case in civil court. If you have questions about your legal options for your work-related injury or illness, the Gearhart Law Group can help.
Work Injury Cases Against Employers Who Do Not Carry Workers’ Compensation Insurance
Georgia law requires all employers to carry workers’ compensation insurance if they regularly employ three or more people in their business. This law also applies to companies that are incorporated or are LLCs. The officers or members of the company are considered included in the employee count.
If you are concerned that your employer does not have workers’ compensation insurance coverage, you can look up this information on the Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation official website. However, in the event that you do discover that your employer does not have the required workers’ compensation insurance coverage, it does not mean that you are out of luck when it comes to workers’ compensation benefits.
Since the law requires your employer to have workers’ compensation insurance, its failure to maintain coverage is not a defense to any claim you (or other injured employees) may bring forth for workers’ compensation benefits. In fact, your employer may be subject to substantial penalties, fines, and even criminal prosecution for the lack of workers’ compensation insurance coverage.
If you find out that your employer is not insured after you have suffered a work injury or illness, you are still entitled to file your workers’ compensation claim for benefits. Your employer will be obligated to pay for any benefits that you are due.
Keep in mind that just because your employer did not carry workers’ compensation insurance that would cover your work injury, that does not mean that you can file a case in civil court for your injuries. The exclusive remedy provision still applies, and your claim must still proceed through the Georgia workers’ compensation system. Since these types of cases can become particularly complex, it is always a good idea to reach out to a Georgia workers’ compensation attorney with experience handling these types of cases.
Self-Insured Georgia Employers and Workers’ Compensation
Some Georgia employers choose to become self-insured for workers’ compensation, which is allowed under the law. Self-insured Georgia employers are not considered uninsured—this is a different way for employers to insure and pay for valid workers’ compensation claims.
To become self-insured for workers’ compensation, a Georgia employer must be approved as a member of the Georgia Self-Insurers Guaranty Trust Fund. An employer seeking to be self-insured must also be certified by the Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation and satisfy specific requirements.
If an employer is approved to be self-insured for this purpose, the employer must post security by either an approved bond or a letter-of-credit in an amount that has been set by the Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation. The amount in question set by the Board can be no less than $250,000.
Workers’ Compensation Benefits for Injured Workers in Georgia
The Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation provides various benefits to eligible employees injured in work accidents. The workers’ compensation benefits that are available to injured workers in Georgia depend on a few different factors. These factors include:
- Whether the injured worker needs to take time off of work to recover from their injury or illness; and if so, the length of time necessary;
- The medical bills and treatment needed for the injured worker to recover from their injury or illness, and whether future medical treatment is anticipated;
- The nature and extent of the injury or illness suffered by the injured employee, including whether there is a permanent or lasting disability;
- Whether or not the injured worker is able to return to work in their former capacity or requires permanent work restrictions.
Gearhart Law Group – Dedicated Georgia Workers’ Compensation Attorneys
An experienced Georgia workers’ compensation attorney can help ensure that you receive the benefits that you deserve. At the Gearhart Law Group, we know what it takes to fight for our clients’ needs. Over the years, we have successfully helped numerous clients obtain positive results in their workers’ compensation cases. Contact our office today to learn more about how we can help you get fair compensation for your work injuries.