The workplace can be a very dangerous place, which is why the government developed a workers' compensation system. Workers' Compensation laws provide money and medical benefits to a worker who has an injury as a result of an accident, injury or occupational disease on-the-job. Workers' Compensation is designed to protect employees and their dependents against the hardships from injury or death arising out of their employment. Many accidents involve falls, defective machinery, explosions and scaffolding. Work-related injuries are often severe and result in serious disability that prevents the injured from returning to work.
Construction sites are a leading cause of employee fatalities in the United States. An estimated 10,000 workers are injured in scaffolding accidents each year and as many as 50 people die in crane accidents each year.
To be eligible for Workers' Compensation, you must be an employee. This means someone who works for another under a contract of hire and receives a salary or hourly wage. You do not have to be employed full-time. You do not have to be employed by only one employer. A written employment contract is not necessary. Employees can include an illegal alien, prisoners and minors. While there are some exceptions, most of the time it applies. Longshoremen, harbor workers and defense workers may file either under the state Workers' Compensation system or the federal Workers' Compensation system, or both.
In order to protect the legal rights of someone who is injured in an on-the-job injury, many complicated legal issues must be considered and properly addressed. These include compliance with a potentially large number of time deadlines, and carefully maneuvering through the insurance company minefield.
For example, assuming Georgia law applies to your case, unless you are certain that your employer or supervisor witnessed your accident, you must notify one of them about your accident within thirty (30) days. If you wait more than thirty (30) days, the notice must be in writing and there must be good reason for the delay. This notice provision is a legal time deadline or "Statute of Limitations." Failure to take required actions with a legal or contractual time deadline may result in losing various rights or benefits. You must comply with the above notice provisions, unless your employer knew about your injury.
Additionally, under Georgia law a WC-14 form, Notice of Claim, must be filed with the Workers' Compensation Board either:
Although a Workers' Compensation claim may legally be pursued at any time following the filing of the Form 14, in practice, long periods of time between treatment and/or disability will weaken a claim, making it harder to keep open.
There are several other time deadlines that require you to act or give notice (for example, Georgia law provides 20 days to appeal an adverse decision by a judge at the Workers' Compensation Board or by the Board itself). Failure to comply with these time periods may result in the loss of your legal rights. Consequently, you should either work closely with your attorney or review the Workers' Compensation Act and all of the procedures, other laws and insurance policies that may be applicable.
Sometimes a claim may also exist against a party other than your employer. If this is the case, generally a two-year time deadline applies in Georgia, and the requirements vary in other states. It is important to note that shorter time deadlines may apply to certain types of claims. In some situations there are claims that can be made against an employer in addition to a claim for Workers' Compensation benefits. If your employer has less than 3 employees, laws other than Workers' Compensation will apply. Please note that these examples are under Georgia law, and that different time deadlines may apply in other states.
There are also very specific rules with regard to various issues including disability payments, returning to work after an injury, medical treatment, physician changes, vocational rehabilitation and permanent-partial disability benefits.
Some on-the-job injuries may not be subject to Workers' Compensation law, or Workers' Compensation law alone may be an inadequate remedy, particularly in the case of very serious and catastrophic personal injuries. In these situations it is desirable, when possible, to identify a negligent third party such as a manufacturer of a dangerous or defective product or the maker of an improper safety device.
These complex issues make it difficult to handle a Workers' Compensation case on your own. The insurance companies hire trained adjusters and have lawyers at their everyday disposal. It is important that victims of job-related injuries and disease hire an attorney who can tackle these issues and protect their interests.
Montlick and Associates, Attorneys has the knowledge and experience you need. We have an experienced qualified staff that is ready to fight for your rights. We tell our clients- we want you to concentrate on the important things: getting healthy and returning to your day-to-day life, while our attorneys take care of the complicated legal issues and deal with the insurance company. Montlick and Associates, Attorneys will work hard to protect your interests and get you the compensation you deserve.