In certain jobs, getting hurt at work is just a fact of life. In other professions, on-the-job injuries aren’t as common, but they still happen. Regardless of where you work and what you do to earn a living, federal and Georgia state worker safety rules are intended to reduce preventable workplace risks.
Unfortunately, employers often ignore these guidelines to save a few bucks. Work-related accidents injure millions of Americans every year. Several thousand workers die as a result. This fact will not surprise those who work in high-risk jobs requiring frequent driving, heavy equipment use, or dangerous heights.Duluth personal injury lawyer Charles Scholle and the expert team at Scholle Law are ready to help you pursue compensation for work injuries. Scholle has decades of experience and a strong record of results. Contact Scholle Law if you or your loved one suffered a workplace injury in Duluth.
What is worker’s compensation?
Worker’s compensation is a form of insurance. It covers workers like you who suffer because of a work-related injury or illness. Worker’s compensation can cover lost income, medical expenses, and other losses.
You do not need to prove your employer’s fault to recover worker’s compensation benefits. However, employers and their insurers know how to work the system to their advantage and your disadvantage. A skilled worker’s compensation lawyer will fight for fair compensation. Retain Duluth work injury lawyer Charles Scholle and the expert team at Scholle Law to ensure that you get the worker’s compensation representation that you deserve.
Worker’s Compensation Coverage in GA
Conditions That Worker’s Compensation Covers
Georgia’s worker’s compensation laws generally cover work-related injury, illness, and death.
You must generally prove a link between your injury or illness and your job to qualify for benefits. You cannot typically recover awards for:
- An injury suffered at home
- An injury caused by horseplay
- An injury that happened because of non-work-related activities
Your employer has to prove that your injury or illness is not work-related. Contact the worker’s compensation team at Scholle Law if you have any questions about your case.
What Worker’s Compensation Covers
Georgia worker’s compensation generally covers medical treatment. It also covers two-thirds of your average weekly wage (for a fixed period). Your covered medical care may include:
- Emergency room visits
- Hospital admissions
- Physician and specialist care
- Diagnostic tests and imaging
- Physical and occupational therapy
- Psychological and psychiatric care
- Chiropractic services
- In-home nursing and attendant care
- Prescription medications
- Prostheses and braces
- Crutches, wheelchairs, and other assistive devices
A lawyer from Scholle Law will review your claim. We can explain how much compensation you may be entitled to.
Know what your employer must do for you.
Are you an independent contractor or employee?
Independent contractors are not generally entitled to worker’s compensation benefits. Georgia Code §34-9-2(e) defines an independent contractor as one who intends to work independently rather than as an employee. The contractor controls the time, manner, and method of the work. They get paid by the job or unit rather than an hourly wage or salary.
You must generally be an employee to receive worker’s compensation coverage. Our team will defend you from an employer’s claim that you were not an employee at the time of your accident.
Employers Have an Obligation to Insure
Georgia Code §34-9-120 requires that employers pay workers’ compensation benefits to injured or ill employees. You may sue an employer who failed to purchase worker’s compensation insurance.
Can employees of subcontractors receive worker’s compensation benefits?
Georgia Code §34-9-8 extends the obligation to pay worker’s compensation benefits to the employees of subcontractors. If they do not have insurance, a general contractor or another party may be liable for your injury or illness.
Do not despair if you’ve been harmed because of unsafe work conditions. Instead, retain a Duluth work injury lawyer from Scholle Law to enforce your rights.
If you’re seriously considering a workplace accident lawsuit in Duluth or anywhere else in Georgia, you should call Scholle Law today. We offer free, no-obligation consultations. These are meetings where we listen to your story and give you our best professional opinions about how a lawsuit might turn out.
There’s no obligation whatsoever for you to move forward or hire us after these meetings. We just want to provide you with answers.
Meet Georgia personal injury lawyer Charles Scholle
Workers’ Rights Are Complicated
Workers hurt on the job have legal rights. Your rights for a workplace injury, though, are not always straightforward. The details of those rights can be confusing. Do not try to apply Georgia’s complex worker’s compensation laws to your own claim. Get an expert worker’s compensation attorney to handle your case.
We Sue When Appropriate
Some injuries that happen while you’re on your employer’s clock may be the result of negligence. Georgia worker’s compensation law allows you to bring a lawsuit against non-employers who cause you harm. Scholle Law will handle your lawsuit or claim for you.
Why Scholle Law?
Charles Scholle has practiced personal injury law for over 20 years, and he is an experienced Atlanta, Georgia work accident lawyer.
Together with his skilled legal team at Scholle Law, Charles is able to leverage his depth and breadth of experience in every case.
The many years of experience held by our legal experts and paralegals greatly benefit our clients.
What do I do if I’ve been hurt on the job?
1. Report Your Injury
First, tell your employer about your injury. Failure to promptly report a workplace injury may compromise your worker’s compensation claim. Your employer has its own legal obligations to record, report, and address workplace injuries.
2. Preserve Evidence
Your employer must preserve evidence of your injury. Such evidence may include photographs, broken or defective equipment, emails, texts, and paperwork. This evidence may help prove your negligence claim. You should save anything related to your injury and treatment. This includes torn or stained clothing, medical records, emails, texts, and paperwork.
3. Speak Accurately (or Not at All)
First, do not give any recorded statement without first contacting an attorney. You may have the right to have an attorney present or have your attorney’s assistance in preparing statements.
If you must give a statement, speak accurately. This applies to any report you make to your employer, safety officials, or investigators. If you are not certain of something or can’t remember, say so.
Provide the same accuracy when giving information to emergency personnel and other medical providers.
4. Cooperate on Medical Referrals
You must cooperate with your employer when seeking medical treatment. If you don’t, then your worker’s compensation claim could be denied.
Georgia Code §34-9-201 generally requires that you select one of your employer’s listed medical providers to treat your workplace injury. You have other rights to emergency care, referral for medical imaging, and referral for specialist examination and treatment. Those rights generally require that you cooperate with your employer in obtaining qualified medical treatment.
Scholle Law handles any dispute that you have over medical care.
What if my spouse was killed on the job?
Understand Survivors Loss Benefits
Georgia employers generally have immunity under Georgia Code §34-9-11 for work-related deaths. This caps recoveries against employers through worker’s compensation benefits.
Georgia Code §34-9-265 instead provides limited worker’s compensation death benefits to the worker’s dependents. A typical payment to full dependents (such as a non-working spouse) is two-thirds of the worker’s average weekly wage for a period no longer than 400 weeks. The worker must have died from workplace injuries that would have otherwise qualified for worker’s compensation benefits.
The amount of the payments varies depending on:
- The worker’s average weekly wage
- How much the dependent relied on the worker for support
Georgia law also caps weekly compensation payments for higher-income earners.
Potential Wrongful Death Claims
Georgia worker’s compensation law does not bar negligence claims against third parties. A third party may be liable for a wrongful death because:
- They supplied defective or unreasonably dangerous equipment
- They approved a negligent design
- They engaged in another form of negligence
A Duluth work injury lawyer from Scholle Law can investigate your case. We’ll determine your eligibility for a wrongful death claim.
Common Causes of Work-Related Accidents
Federal law requires that employers keep workplaces reasonably safe. Congress’s Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 established the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).
Those federal agencies ensure that Georgia’s private employers keep workplaces free of known safety risks. Workplace injuries result in reports to federal OSHA officers. Those officers may fine the employer, require changes in safety practices, or even shut down the employer awaiting remediation. Unlike some other states, Georgia does not have its own federally approved OSHA plan or state OSHA enforcement.
Despite these mandatory federal safety regulations, the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that thousands of U.S. workers suffer workplace injuries each year from:
- Motor-vehicle accidents
- Fires and explosions
- Customers’ or coworkers’ intentional violence
- Slips, trips, and falls
- Exposure to toxic or other harmful substances
- Accidents involving heavy equipment
- Being struck by an object
- Overexertion, reactions, and repetitive movements
How Employers Fail the Safety Test
OSHA regulations require Georgia employers in the construction sector to install guardrails, provide harnesses to workers, and implement safety systems to prevent falls. Yet construction industry fatalities from falls, struck-by accidents, caught-between injuries, and electrocutions are still prevalent. These accident types are known as the Fatal Four.
Construction in Georgia still causes large numbers of deaths and serious injuries despite federal safety regulations and enforcement.
How Your Lawyer Will Prove Your Claim
Employees can recover worker’s compensation benefits even when an injury is their own fault. To be successful, Georgia Code §34-9-1(4) explains the employee must show an “injury by accident arising out of and in the course of the employment….”. A Duluth work injury lawyer from Scholle Law will work to meet this burden of proof.
A lawyer must generally connect the worker’s compensation claim to a sudden, traumatic, and accidental event that was a part of their work. Leave this duty to our firm.
What are the most dangerous jobs in Georgia?
Certain occupations are especially high-risk. Worker’s compensation insurance rates vary depending on the danger of the employer’s industry. Worker’s compensation rates show that the most dangerous professions in Georgia include:
- Mining, logging, and other natural resource extraction
- Commercial driving
- Waste management
Your profession could impact certain aspects of your claim.
Common Types of Work-Related Injuries
Catastrophic injuries have an extraordinary financial impact. A serious injury can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to treat, even with health insurance. Making matters worse, victims are out of work. Injuries that cause permanent disability mean permanent, career-long loss of income. A Duluth wrongful death lawyer can help navigate those painful waters.
Other Disabling Injuries
An injury need not be catastrophic to keep one from working for a significant period of time. Such injuries cause substantial work loss and medical expenses. Even relatively minor injuries can completely disable a worker.
If you suffer a disabling injury that your employer disputes, retain Scholle Law to represent you. We’ll complete your worker’s compensation claim. Some common disabling injuries resulting from work-related accidents include:
- Back and neck injury
- Head injury
- Internal injuries
- Being struck by an object
- Scars requiring plastic surgery
We deal with all work-related injuries.
Is there a time limit to file a work injury case?
Injured workers generally have one year from the date of injury to file a worker’s compensation claim. You may have two years to file for renewal of stopped benefits. Some work-related illnesses take time to emerge. You may generally file a claim within one year of discovering the illness.
Do not take for granted these one-year and two-year time limits. Even if you are technically within the timeframe for pursuing a claim, your claim can get more difficult the longer you wait. Memories fade, and witnesses disappear. As soon as you discover an injury or illness, retain Duluth work injury lawyer Charles Scholle for your case.
What qualifies as a disability?
Forms of Disability
You must show that your work-related injury prevents you from doing the work that you were doing for your employer. This is key to proving a disability.
Georgia worker’s compensation law recognizes both partial and total disability. Georgia law also recognizes temporary and permanent disability. Specifically, Georgia Code §34-9-261, 262, and 263 provide work-loss benefits for these three forms of disability:
- Temporary total disability
- Temporary partial disability
- Permanent partial disability
Scholle Law will determine which type of disability you have.
An employee-chosen doctor will diagnose your disability. However, those physicians have a natural conflict of interest. They tend to favor the employer who chose them for the list.
Worker’s compensation disputes often arise when the employee has a genuine work disability that the treating physician fails to recognize. If you face a dispute in which anyone refuses to recognize your legitimate disability, we can help. Call personal injury attorney Charles Scholle and the worker’s compensation team at Scholle Law.
What Qualifies As an Injury?
Generally, to recover Georgia worker’s compensation benefits, Georgia Code §34-9-1(4) requires that you suffer an “injury.” Injuries are generally sudden in onset and traumatic in nature. There are several categories of injury that could entitle you to benefits.
Aggravation of Preexisting Conditions
Georgia Code §34-9-1(4) explains that an injury includes “the aggravation of a preexisting condition by accident arising out of and in the course of employment, … for so long as the aggravation of the preexisting condition continues to be the cause of the disability….”. In other words, a preexisting injury made worse by your job may entitle you to coverage.
We can help if your employer and comp insurer dispute your disability because of a preexisting condition.
Georgia Code §34-9-1(4) addresses heart attacks, strokes, and similar issues that occur at work. The code explains that an injury does not include “heart disease, heart attack, the failure or occlusion of any of the coronary blood vessels, stroke, or thrombosis unless it is shown by a preponderance of competent and credible evidence, which shall include medical evidence, that any of such conditions were attributable to the performance of the usual work of employment.”
In other words, medical evidence must show that work brought on the heart attack or other circulatory injury. This can happen, but it requires a cardiologist or similar expert to establish the work connection.
Other Personal Issues
The same Georgia Code §34-9-1(4) excludes anything “caused by the willful act of a third person directed against an employee for reasons personal to such employee…” as a qualifying injury.
An employee would not recover benefits for an instance of domestic violence that followed the employee into the workplace, as one example. Georgia Code §34-9-1(4) also disqualifies substance abuse-related injuries except when drug addiction “resulted from the use of drugs or medicines prescribed for the treatment of the initial injury by an authorized physician.”
What Does Worker’s Compensation Cover?
Georgia Code §§34-9-200 to 208 authorizes payment of the injured employee’s medical expenses. Payment is provided within a special set of circumstances and limits.
The employee must generally select the treating physician from the employer’s list of at least six such physicians. They may be able to choose from the employer’s managed-care organization if the employer offers one. The insurance company pays your doctors for the treatment they provide. This could affect your quality of care.
Employees who choose to use their own physician must rely on health insurance or their own means to pay for that medical expense.
Georgia Code §34-9-220 provides for work-loss compensation for injured employees. This pay begins once the injured employee has been off work for seven days. The employee gets the first seven days paid (retroactively) only if the employee remains disabled from work for at least twenty-one consecutive days.
Georgia’s worker’s compensation laws provide other benefits in certain cases. An employee who must travel for treatment receives medical mileage and hotel costs as necessary.
Georgia Code §34-9-265 also provides death benefits to the dependents of a worker who dies from a workplace injury. A typical payment to full dependents such as a non-working spouse and minor child would be two-thirds of the deceased worker’s average weekly wage for a period no longer than 400 weeks.
What damages can I collect in a work injury lawsuit?
Worker’s compensation laws do not provide any recovery for pain, suffering, and lost enjoyment of life. These are known as noneconomic damages. Noneconomic damages can be as much as two or three times the total medical expense and wage loss.
To win a negligence lawsuit for a work injury, the employee must have a reliable negligence theory supported by evidence. Someone other than the employee, employer, or coworkers must have been at fault for your injury.
If you suspect that someone else was at fault for your workplace injury, then Scholle Law wants to hear from you. Call us today.
The Process of Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim
Our firm follows these steps when handling clients’ claims.
Notice of Claim
We file Georgia Form WC-14 when an employer or insurer fails to pay due benefits. The employee’s attorney prepares and files the WC-14 Notice of Claim with the Georgia State Board of Worker’s Compensation. The attorney also serves a copy to the employer.
A worker’s compensation claim is an administrative claim rather than a lawsuit. It does not entail a court appearance. However, both parties in a worker’s compensation claim conduct discovery of the other side’s evidence.
The employer may send the employee for an Independent Medical Examination (IME) as part of discovery. Discovery may lead to settlement of the claim.
Worker’s compensation claims that do not settle proceed to an administrative hearing. An administrative law judge hears the case.
These hearings are not like court trials. While live examination and cross-examination can occur, much of the evidence is written. Juries are not available in these hearings. If necessary, you can appeal the judge’s decision.
Duluth work injury lawyer Charles Scholle represents clients throughout this process.
Work Injury Questions and Answers
Employers may owe compensation benefits no matter who was at fault and even when no one is at fault. Too often, though, employers and their insurers don’t pay. Instead, they discourage the employee from pursuing due benefits. This is one reason why you need a worker’s compensation lawyer.
When harm to the employee is the result of an employer’s negligence, the employee may be able to sue the employer. You may also sue a third party who caused your injury. Lawsuits and claims are complex. Handling either one without a lawyer’s help comes with immense risk.
Hiring a lawyer generally comes with no upfront cost or risk. Make the call today.
Premier Atlanta-area attorney Charles Scholle has practiced personal injury law for over twenty years with impressive results.
Scholle leverages his experience and professional network for every client. Scholle Law deploys the necessary resources to seek the best results for its clients. Scholle and his team skillfully negotiate with insurers to secure the best possible settlement.
They don’t hesitate to file lawsuits and try cases to juries when necessary. Scholle Law is proud to represent clients with serious claims. We’ll seek the recovery that you deserve.
You may sue your employer under certain circumstances. If they do not have worker’s compensation, they may be exposed to a lawsuit.
You may also sue someone other than your employer. You may have a negligence claim against a third party. These parties may include:
- A driver with no employment relationship to your employer
- The owner of a defective vehicle
- A third-party contractor
- Customers or clients of your employer
- Anyone who committed a violent crime against you while you were at work
The legal relationships between parties involved in your case matter. The Duluth work injury lawyers at Scholle Law understand how to complete cases like yours.
The value of a worker’s compensation case tends to depend on:
- The nature of your injuries (including whether they are disabling)
- The severity of a disability
- The cost of your medical care
- The value of your lost wages
- Other case-specific factors
We will not know the value of your case until we speak with you. Retain preeminent personal-injury attorney Charles Scholle to evaluate your case.
Georgia Code §34-9-11 makes workers’ compensation benefits the exclusive route to compensation in most cases. There are exceptions, though.
You can sue a third party who causes you harm in your workplace. A third-party claim is generally a negligence claim or products liability claim against a person or company who:
- supplied a defective product
- Rendered careless service
- Contributed to your workplace injury
In the case of a claim or lawsuit, we are here for you. Call Scholle Law today for a free consultation.
Contact us to speak with a lawyer about your accident.We’re available 24/7 and your first consultation is free.
Call 866-972-5287 or send us a message online