Getting injured on the job is something that may not happen constantly but does occasionally happen. Most of these workplace injuries are non-fatal and need a relatively short amount of time for recovery (not exceeding one month), but there are such occurrences that result in the tragic loss of lives of valued employees. In fact, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics tallied more than 5,000 fatal work injuries in the entire country back in 2019, with 207 of this count being recorded in Georgia.
While it is true that occupational injuries are more likely to occur in workplaces that carry out manual labor, this category of personal injury could actually happen in any kind of workplace, and the numbers clearly show this. So to acquaint you with some important information on the topic, below are some common questions and answers on work-related injuries and compensation, particularly focusing on data specific to the Peach State.
What are the most common occupational injuries?
According to the data provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the most common causes of occupational injuries are falls, slips, and trips, exposure to harmful substances or environments, equipment or tool-related injuries, and transportation accidents. Violence and other injuries caused by persons or animals, as well as fires and explosions, are other examples of common work-related injuries.
The same research revealed that in 2019, the most common fatal workplace injury was transportation accidents, while the most common non-fatal workplace injury is overexertion, resulting in sprains, strains, and tears.
It is also noted that in Georgia in particular, work-related injuries occur more among men, with men accounting for 87% of workplace fatalities in the entire state in the same year of the BLS research.
What do Georgia laws say about workplace injuries and compensation?
In personal injury cases such as occupational injuries, the state of Georgia follows a modified comparative fault system, which, basically, is a no-fault statutory system. In other words, an injured party, whose negligence might have contributed to the happening of the injury, may still be allowed to recover benefits and compensation. In a general sense, this works well on the part of the employee, since his or her case is assessed carefully and decided reasonably based on the circumstances. A claim is not dismissed outright even if there is contributory negligence, unlike in other states.
Under Georgia’s Workers’ Compensation Law, any business operating with three or more workers, including regular part-time workers, is mandated to have workers’ compensation insurance for the benefit of its workers. Essentially, the workers’ compensation insurance is an accident insurance program paid by the company in order to provide an injured worker his or her medical, rehabilitation, and income benefits, thereby helping said worker to recover effectively and speed up his or her return to work.
In the unfortunate event that a worker dies because of an on-the-job accident, his or her dependents are entitled to compensation under the law. Georgia’s Workers’ Compensation Law grants dependents a sum amounting to two-thirds of the worker’s average weekly wage, but it shall not be more than the maximum allowed under the law ($675-cap in 2019). This amount is intended to assist the dependents in the immediate disbursements as a result of the death, particularly burial expenses.
In general, Georgia’s Workers’ Compensation Law enumerates the rights, benefits, and responsibilities of workers in case of on-the-job injuries, as well as the obligations of employers in the process of assisting job-related injured workers. The goal is to ensure that all workers are safe, healthy, and secure in the work premises, which helps ensure complete productivity in the workplace.
What is a worker legally entitled to in case of a non-fatal workplace injury?
As mentioned above, a worker is legally entitled to receive medical, rehabilitation, and income benefits under Georgia’s Workers’ Compensation Law, the amount and extent of which shall be dependent on the nature and severity of the injury. Apart from monetary assistance, the employer is also required to help the worker in getting proper medical care, particularly by providing a list of doctors or certified WC/MCO from which an injured worker may receive treatment.
Of course, it must be emphasized that even though employers are required to have such an insurance program for their employees, payment is never automatic. First, the accident must be reported immediately to the employer, not later than 30 days after its occurrence. Then, a claim must be properly filed, which will usually trigger a hearing before the State Board of Workers’ Compensation, especially when both sides do not agree on the claims and expenses to be shouldered by the employer.
The law does not require the assistance of a personal injury lawyer. However, employers are almost always represented by a lawyer during such hearings, so it is definitely beneficial on the part of the worker if they also have an expert to fight for their claims and rights.
If you are in the Atlanta area and need some legal assistance with respect to workplace injuries and compensation, Musgrove Trial Firm is here to help. Composed of highly experienced personal injury lawyers, our firm will be on your side to help you claim the benefits you rightfully deserve and are equitably entitled to under the law.
Musgrove Trial Firm is open and ready to represent you. Message us on our website or give us a call for immediate assistance.