It was your first day on the job in a machine shop when you saw it happen. One of the veteran machinists got his hand caught in a piece of equipment when it malfunctioned. As the ambulance drove off, you heard the other employees talking about how the victim might lose his hand and how he might never work in a machine shop again. Naturally, you are wondering what would have happened if that had been you. How would you pay your medical bills? How would you pay your rent if you couldn't work?
Fortunately, there are safety nets in place for employees that suffer a work-related injury. If your employer has workers' compensation insurance in Georgia, you could be entitled to benefits if you find yourself in a situation similar to the above scenario. Read further to find out three important things you should know about workers' compensation laws in Georgia.
In general, most injuries that are a result of a workplace accident are eligible for workers' compensation benefits. In most cases, it does not matter if you are directly responsible for the accident or your employer is. However, there are some injuries that workers' compensation benefits do not cover. These include psychiatric, psychological, heart and vascular conditions unless they are a direct result of an occupational disease such as mesothelioma.
While the majority of employers must provide workers' compensation insurance, there are some employees and industries that are not eligible for benefits. For example, if your employer has less than three regular staff members, he or she probably does not have workers' compensation insurance. In addition, most railroad, farm and federal government employees, domestic staff and independent contractors are exempt from collecting workers' compensation benefits.
Dealing with a denial
Your employee or the insurer might deny your claim for several reasons. For instance, your employer may claim that you are an independent contractor and not actually an employee. Another reason for a denial is that you did not notify your employer of your injury or file your claim within the prescribed time limits. Sometimes, denials happen due to clerical mistakes that you or your employer can easily fix. If you receive a claim denial, you have the option to request a hearing with Georgia's State Board of Workers' Compensation. Before the hearing, you will have to attend mediation sessions in an attempt resolve the issue.
If you have suffered a workplace injury, you might be able to file a claim for workers' compensation. However, before you find yourself in a situation where you need to do so, take the time to find out as much as possible about Georgia's workers' compensation laws so that you can be prepared before you ever need to file.