Frequently Asked Questions about Georgia Workers' Compensation Claims
If you suffer a workplace injury, the experience can be stressful and debilitating. Many people are aware that the Georgia worker's compensation system provides benefits for on-the-job injuries, but they are unclear about how the program works. Anxiety associated with these unanswered questions can mount while you are missing work. Your mortgage, utilities, and other expenses do not disappear because you are suffering from a job-related disability. The process of dealing with a workplace injury can be less daunting if you understand your legal rights and the worker's compensation system. In this article post, our Atlanta worker's compensation lawyers answer frequently asked questions about what "no-fault" means in the context of a worker's compensation claim.
How does the no-fault principle in the workers' compensation system differ from negligence claims in personal injury lawsuits?
When an injured worker sues a third-party such as an equipment rental company rather than an employer, the company that provided improperly maintained equipment might be liable for negligence if the condition of the equipment causes injury. When fault is an issue in a personal injury lawsuit, the negligence of the third-party generally must be established by the injury victim to obtain a judgment. However, defendants in personal injury cases also can sometimes be liable regardless of fault (i.e. strict liability). The third-party might attempt to reduce or avoid liability by shifting some or all of the blame for an accident to the injured employee. When worker's compensation benefits are at issue, the negligence of the claimant is irrelevant, subject to narrow exceptions.
What is the rationale for making benefits available on a "no-fault" basis?
Worker's compensation benefits are granted on a no-fault basis for a variety of reasons. The no-fault criteria permits an injured worker to obtain immediate medical care free of charge regardless of who caused the on-the-job injury subject to certain exceptions. This prompt access to free medical care facilitates the employee's ability to get back to work. Litigation in regard to a third-party personal injury claim is a lengthier process, especially when it involves establishing fault based on evidence that often is in possession of the other at-fault party. Because the cost of litigation is avoided, the insurance company and the employer also save money and time in resolving the dispute.
Does the no-fault rule apply if my employer claims I caused my injury?
Although the no-fault system permits injured employees to receive benefits even if their negligence caused their injuries, narrow exceptions to the no-fault rule exist. If an employee is injured because of drug or alcohol intoxication on-the-job, or the worker disregarded safety precautions, the employee might not have a right to worker's compensation benefits. However, the mere fact that an employer alleges a worker failed to observe proper safety precautions does not necessarily mean that benefits will be denied. The employer must present evidence establishing this failure by the injured worker. Additionally, if another negligent third-party, that is, a person or company other than the victim's employer, caused the injury, the victim can make a liability claim for personal injury against the at-fault person or party as well as a no-fault workers' compensation claim.
Put Our Georgia Law Firm's Over 35 Years of Workers' Compensation Experience to Work For You!
Our Atlanta worker's compensation attorneys often simultaneously pursue both worker's compensation benefits from our clients' employers and a personal injury claims against third-party defendants. Our law firm has been diligently representing those who suffer serious injuries throughout Georgia and in the Southeast for over 35 years, including but not limited to Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Gainesville, Macon, Marietta, Rome, Roswell, Savannah, Smyrna, Valdosta, Warner Robins and all smaller cities and rural areas in the state.
No matter where you are located, the attorneys of Montlick and Associates, Attorneys at Law, are just a phone call away, and we will even come to you. Call us 24 hours a day/7 days a week for your Free Consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333). You can also visit us online at www.montlick.com and use our Free Case Evaluation Form or 24-hour Live Online Chat.