I Was Injured at Work. What Are My Legal Rights?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, almost 3 out of every 100 workers in the US suffer a workplace accident injury, causing high medical debt and anxiety for the victims. When you have been injured at work, there are many thoughts that run through your mind, especially what you should be doing and what legal deadlines you must meet. It can be overwhelming for an individual to understand what to do. 

The workers’ compensation attorneys at The Pendergrass Law Firm warn that there are important steps you must take to receive your Worker’s Compensation benefits. They advise that you speak to an attorney, especially if your injuries were caused by the negligence of a coworker or a third party. Your employer has a legal duty of care to provide you with a safe workplace. When you are injured and don’t know what to do, then working with an attorney can ensure that you meet critical deadlines and reduce your chances of your claim being denied.

Can I Sue My Employer If I Am Injured On The Job?

Workers who are injured on a job site in Georgia, whether they suffered a disability or developed a disease through their work, are eligible to receive benefits through the no-fault Georgia Worker’s Compensation system. However, in exchange for these benefits, which cover medical treatment, lost wages, and physical rehabilitation, and provides supplemental income, you relinquish your right to sue your employer for your work-related injury. However, if the negligence of a third party caused your injury, you have the right to fight for the compensation you are legally entitled to.

Rights And Responsibilities

One of the advantages of hiring an attorney is that they can advise you of your rights, especially if your case is contentious. Both employees and employers have rights and responsibilities. Under Georgia law:

  • Employers that have three or more workers are required to carry Worker’s Compensation insurance
  • Your employer must provide a list of at least six different doctors who accept your Worker’s Compensation insurance
  • You are entitled to weekly income benefits if you have been absent from work for more than seven days due to your injury, and your first check will be mailed to you within 21 days from the first day you missed work
  • You are entitled to receive 2/3 of your average weekly pay, not to exceed $575 per week, as long as you are unable to work
  • You are entitled to receive 2/3 of your weekly average weekly pay, not to exceed $575 per week, while you are deemed fully disabled, but once you are capable of performing your work with restrictions, then your weekly income benefits will be reduced to no more than $383 per week

Classification of Injuries

Under the Georgia Worker’s Compensation system, accidents are classified as either catastrophic or non-catastrophic.:

  • Catastrophic injuries: Permanent, disfiguring injuries are considered catastrophic, such as amputation, blindness, paralysis, nerve injuries, traumatic brain injuries (TBI), or other serious head injuries
  • Non-catastrophic injuries are not permanent but still render the victim unable to return to work temporarily, such as multiple broken bones or mild to moderate traumatic brain injury

Steps To Take After An Injurious Workplace Accident Or Incident

Much of the success of your case depends on the steps you took after your accident. First, you need to report the injury to your supervisor as soon as possible. It is best to put this report in writing. Failure to report an accident within 30 days after it happened could result in the loss of benefits.

Next, you need to schedule an appointment with the designated doctor as soon as possible following your workplace accident. You must follow your medical treatment as prescribed.

You should file a form WC-14 Notice of Claim to the State Board of Workers’ Compensation and send a copy to both your employer and their Worker’s Compensation insurance provider. You will also need to provide a copy of this form to your attorney.

Your employer should have filed a report with the insurance company, which you should ask to receive a copy of immediately. If your employer did not file a report, then you should write down all of the details of what happened for your own files. Your memory of the incident is clearest immediately after the incident, and writing everything down now will benefit you later.

Next, you should talk to an experienced attorney who can help you get all the Worker’s Compensation benefits that you were entitled to. They can help you avoid your claim being denied based on a pre-existing condition, for example.

Employees are responsible for following written rules of safety and other policies and procedures that their employer has put in place. You cannot get compensation if an injury or workplace death was due to willful misconduct or if you do not cooperate with your medical providers during your treatment.

When Is An Employee Liable For Their Own Injuries?

Employees can be liable for their injuries if their misconduct or negligence is discovered to be the true cause of the accident. Even if an employee works in a high-risk field like construction, there are regulations and best practices that must be followed to keep all employees and outside contractors safe. An unreasonable hazard that has not been taken care of can put workers at risk. Suppose an employee shows up to work intoxicated or otherwise unable to fulfill their job responsibilities safely, and they get into an accident. In that case, they may be found liable for their injuries.

This is why you need to speak with an experienced Worker’s Compensation attorney who can help you get the benefits you want. An attorney with decades of experience protecting the rights of injured workers can fight for you and help you maximize your claim so that you get the maximum settlement possible.

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