Stephen Hasner | Workers' Compensation | December 15, 2020
Under Georgia law, any company that retains at least three employees is required to provide workers’ compensation insurance coverage. If the company does not provide workers’ compensation benefits, they can be held accountable by the State Board of Workers’ Compensation (SBWC) in Georgia.
It is illegal for employers to deny or delay workers’ compensation payments without providing a reason. If your employer has delayed or denied your workers’ compensation benefits without cause, they could face severe penalties under Georgia state law.
Specific Penalties for Failing to Provide Workers’ Compensation in Georgia
The State Board of Workers’ Compensation in Georgia has initiated the following penalties for failing to provide workers’ compensation:
- Fines ranging from $500-$5,000 per violation
- Misdemeanor charges against the offending corporate executive or business owner
- Potential jail time of up to one year
- Additional criminal fines ranging from $1,000-$10,000
As you can see from these penalties, failing to provide workers’ compensation in the state of Georgia is a serious offense. The Enforcement Division of the State Board of Workers’ Compensation investigates claims of noncompliance. They can hold bad faith employers liable.
If you have suffered a work-related injury and your employer has delayed or denied your workers’ compensation benefits without good cause, speak with a qualified workers’ compensation attorney.
Your employer may be liable for a range of costs associated with denying or delaying your payments. Having a skilled lawyer fight for you can help you to secure the compensation that you are owed.
What are Workers’ Compensation Benefits?
Workers’ compensation is a type of insurance coverage that businesses are required to provide to their “regular” workers. Under the system, benefits cover a certain range of costs for employees who have been injured in the workplace. They also cover injuries that occur when someone is acting in their capacity as an employee, even if they are not at work.
It is important to understand that not every type of worker is covered by workers’ compensation. These benefits are only required for regular full-time and part-time workers.
Many businesses will offset the potential costs of providing benefits by gaining labor from “independent contractors,” “volunteers,” or “casual workers.” Workers’ compensation benefits are not available to employees who are categorized in these ways.
If you have been injured at work, you will likely face a range of expenses and losses. Workers’ compensation is intended to help regular employees make it through a difficult time, and hopefully, return to work financially whole.
Also, when an employee dies as the result of a work-related injury or accident, workers’ compensation benefits are provided to the dependents of the deceased.
Some of the potential costs that workers’ compensation benefits can cover include:
- Medical bills and expenses from the illness or injury
- Replacement income to cover lost wages
- Expenses related to job retraining
- Financial compensation for permanent injuries or disabilities
- Benefits for dependents of an employee who was killed on the job
Collecting workers’ compensation benefits prevents the worker from being able to file a lawsuit against their employer. Also, workers’ compensation does not cover non-economic damages from your injury, like emotional trauma or pain and suffering. These types of damages are only available by filing a personal injury claim.
So, if you were injured on the job because of the negligence or recklessness of your employer, you should speak to a qualified attorney with experience in workers’ compensation and personal injury cases as soon as possible.
How Much Does Workers’ Compensation Provide?
Workers’ compensation benefits are not intended to supply a full replacement for the injured employee’s average wage. This is because they are meant to provide a stopgap measure until the injured worker can recover and return to work.
Typically, workers’ compensation provides two-thirds of the person’s average weekly wage. However, there is also a maximum amount that these benefits cannot exceed. In the state of Georgia, workers’ compensation benefits will not exceed $675 per week. But these benefits are not subject to taxation.
What Should I Do if I Have Been Injured on the Job?
If you have been hurt on the job or as a result of completing your work, there are several steps that you should take to be sure that you receive the benefits you are owed. First, report the injury to your employer as soon as possible. If you wait more than thirty days to report your injury, you will not be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.
After reporting your injury to your employer, seek any necessary medical care or treatment. Before visiting your regular physician, make sure that they are covered by workers’ compensation. Ask your treating physician to make an indication on your records that your injury is work-related.
Be sure to save any documentation regarding medical bills or expenses. This can include hospitalization, medication, and travel costs.
Also, follow your doctor’s instructions for care to the letter. If your workers’ compensation claim needs to be appealed, you may have to show that you are taking the proper steps to care for your injury.
What Should I Do if My Claim Was Delayed or Denied?
In some cases, workers’ compensation claims are denied for good reasons. For instance, a claim will be denied if you did not report your injury to your employer within thirty days or if you failed to seek appropriate medical treatment with an approved healthcare provider. Without a record of the injury and its relation to your employment, the insurance provider may claim that you did not suffer the injury at work.
In other cases, a workers’ compensation claim may be denied without any apparent cause, even after you have taken the appropriate steps. If your employer makes false statements, is unresponsive, or gives unreasonable excuses to avoid paying you the benefits you deserve, you should take action.
You can file a complaint against your employer with the State Board of Workers’ Compensation in Georgia. After you do so, their Enforcement Division will investigate your case. They have the ability to hold your employer to account if they have failed to provide you with adequate workers’ compensation payments in a timely manner. It is also a good idea to speak with a qualified legal professional who can effectively represent your interests.