Is workers comp required in Georgia?
An injury on the job can be a devastating experience, especially if your employer denies responsibility for what happened to you.
Workers’ compensation is an accident insurance program paid for by employers to provide employees access to medical, rehabilitation and income benefits if they are injured on the job. It also offers benefits to dependents if a worker dies because of a job-related injury.
In Georgia, the law requires that all businesses with three or more employees provide workers’ compensation insurance. Even if someone works part-time, they must be covered by workers’ compensation coverage. All employees who work for a company with three or more employees are protected from their first day on the job.
Georgia workers’ compensation verification can be done online with the State Board of Workers’ Compensation. Even if a business has only two workers, if it is incorporated, Georgia workers’ compensation laws state that corporate officers are considered employees.
If you work for yourself, you are not required to have workers’ compensation insurance. The law indicates that sole proprietors and partners are employers, not employees.
How does workers’ compensation work in Georgia?
The Workers’ Compensation Law provides workers with certain rights and responsibilities. If you are injured at work in Georgia you must report it to your boss, foreman, or supervisor immediately. If you wait longer than 30 days, you may lose your benefits.
You may obtain a Form WC-14 to file a claim from the State Board of Workers’ Compensation website. The hearing generally will be scheduled within 60 days from the time the judge receives the Form WC-14.
Georgia workers compensation benefits pay for lost wages and medical expenses when workers have an injury or illness related to their job. Employees can claim benefits for a wide range of injuries, from office worker repetitive strain injuries to broken bones or an illness resulting from exposure to chemicals. Workers’ compensation will also pay death benefits.
If you do not receive any benefits as a result of a claim made, you may request a hearing before the State Board of Workers’ Compensation. Your claim will be decided by an administrative law judge who considers both sides of a claim and determines what benefits, if any, an employee should receive. The judge’s decision will be based on the law and the facts of the injury that occurred.
Anyone who intentionally makes a false or misleading statement to obtain or deny benefits or payment under the law may be assessed a civil penalty of not less than $1,000 or more than $10,000 per violation.
An employer will probably be represented at a hearing by a lawyer. It is in the best interest of employees to also have a lawyer to present a claim in the best way possible to ensure a positive outcome.
What kind of settlements are provided?
There are two types of workers’ compensation settlements in Georgia:
- A liability settlement resolves a claim that the insurance company must pay.
- A non-liability settlement ends a claim where there is a legitimate dispute about your eligibility for benefits.
Most workers’ compensation claims are settled with a lump sum payment. A structured settlement is also possible and is typically offered for workers who suffer severe injury and will require care over an extended period. This means that the payments will be distributed over time. You will receive benefits based upon an amount set by law. For example, if you lost an arm or leg, you would receive benefits of 225 weeks.
Workers’ compensation settlements do not become final until approved by the board. A claimant can cancel their settlement, even if they have already signed and filed the settlement paperwork.
What if I don’t have workers’ compensation insurance?
The Board may assess a penalty of not less than $500 nor more than $5,000 per violation for an employer’s failure to be insured for workers’ compensation.
In addition to civil penalties, a person, firm, or corporation who makes false and misleading statements or representations may face criminal sanctions by imprisonment not to exceed 12 months.
Any employer who refuses or willfully neglects to have workers’ compensation insurance shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.
Having an experienced lawyer who knows how to get the best settlement for your injury can make a big difference in getting you back to living your life.