The average American will spend more than 90,000 hours of their life at work. With the tremendous amount of time we spend at the workplace, it’s not surprising that so many injuries happen on the job. For 2017, the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that there were approximately 2.8 million workplace injuries and illnesses reported by private industry workers. Of these, 882,730 injuries resulted in missed time at work.
If you were injured at work, it’s important to understand your rights and responsibilities when it comes to worker’s comp. An experienced Gwinnett County workers’ compensation lawyer can help.
What accidents does Georgia worker’s compensation cover?
Accidents can happen any time, any place, including on the job. Common workplace accidents include:
- Transportation accidents: This can include forklift or cart accidents on-site or motor vehicle accidents that occurred while on the clock.
- Falls: Falls are some of the most common accidents on the job. A fall can happen when an employee slips on a wet surface, trips, or falls from an elevated surface, such as a ladder.
- Machinery accidents: Heavy equipment and machinery can cause serious injury. Equipment failures, lack of training, or inadequate safety protection can increase the risk of injury. Injuries from heavy machinery can include broken bones, burns, or traumatic brain injuries.
Common Workplace Injuries
The type of injury you sustain can affect if and when you can return to work. Some of the most commonly reported workplace injuries include:
- Broken bones: A broken bone can occur when a limb or a finger becomes caught in a piece of machinery or as the result of a fall. Though everyone tends to think of bone breaks as something that heals, these injuries can be severe and require long-term treatment.
- Traumatic brain injuries: Even a minor bump on the head can lead to a traumatic brain injury. The scary thing about these injuries is that sometimes the injured party does not realize something is wrong until several days after the accident. Because of this, you should always report any blows to the head, even if you do not think you have any symptoms of concussion or brain injury.
- Burns: For workers, burns are most common at factories and in restaurants, but they can happen anywhere. At an office, they can happen because of a faulty electrical outlet or exposure and for driving jobs they can happen as a result of an accident.
- Repetitive strain injuries: Repetitive strain injuries happen from overuse. The most common example of a repetitive strain injury is carpal tunnel. Office workers, mechanics, and construction workers are at high risk for developing repetitive strain injuries.
What Does Workers’ Compensation Pay For?
Georgia requires all employers with at least three employees to carry worker’s compensation insurance. This coverage guarantees workers assistance if they are injured on the job. The type of compensation an employee is eligible for depends on the specifics of the case, but common costs include:
- Medical bills: All medical bills related to the workplace accident are the responsibility of the employer. For non-catastrophic injuries, coverage ends after 400 weeks. For catastrophic injuries, the employee may be eligible for lifetime benefits.
- Lost wages: Workers’ compensation does not pay lost wages until an employee misses more than seven days of work as a result of the injury. After the seventh day, the employee is entitled to two-thirds of their average weekly salary, not to exceed $575 per week. An employee can receive no more than 400 weeks of lost wages.
- Vocational rehabilitation: If you are unable to return to your job or any form of work for which you are qualified, you may have the right to vocational rehabilitation. Georgia requires workers’ comp to provide vocational rehab for anyone who has suffered a catastrophic injury. The law does not require employers to provide vocational rehab for employees who have suffered non-catastrophic injuries, but the employer can choose to do so at their discretion.
- Travel expenses: Workers’ comp also reimburses the employee for any mileage related to doctor visits connected to the workplace injury.
- Death benefits: If a workplace accident resulted in the death of a loved one, workers’ compensation insurance will the surviving spouse $7,500 to cover funeral expenses. The spouse is also eligible for two-thirds of the worker’s average weekly wage until that person remarries or collects the state maximum benefits.
Can my employer refuse to pay for an injury?
The law requires an employer to carry workers’ compensation to compensate employees for injuries sustained while on the job. However, the company’s insurance carrier has the right to investigate your claim. Some of the reasons why an employer your claim include:
- The employee willfully causes an accident: Workers’ compensation does not cover willful injury (in other words, injuring yourself or someone else injuring you on purpose). In most cases, you are still eligible for compensation even if you caused the accident, but only if you did not do so intentionally.
- Your injury did not happen at work: Even if you were involved in a workplace accident, the insurance company may try to claim that your injuries did not happen as a result of the accident. This is most common when the employee has a pre-existing condition.
- The injury was not promptly reported: If you have been injured on the job, you should report your injury to your supervisor immediately. If you fail to report the injury within 30 days of the accident, you may lose eligibility for benefits.
When a workers’ compensation insurance company denies a claim after conducting an investigation, the affected worker should contact a worker’s compensation attorney right away. An attorney can help you determine your rights to appeal the claim decision and to recover benefits.
A Gwinnett County Workers’ Compensation Attorney From Brauns Law Can Help
When you are injured on the job, the last thing you should worry about is how your injury will affect your pocketbook. Employers have a duty to provide workers’ compensation insurance to cover on-the-job injuries their employees suffer. If you were injured on the job or have recently had a workers’ comp claim denied, email our experienced worker’s compensation attorneys or call (404) 418-8244 to learn more about your rights.