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What does ‘no-fault’ mean in Georgia workers’ compensation?

| Dec 16, 2020 | workers' compensation |

In Georgia, the workers’ compensation system is a no-fault system. That means you don’t have to prove that your employer’s negligence or anyone else’s negligence caused your injury. You can still receive benefits, and you don’t have to sue your employer to get them. You just need to report your injury to your employer, get your injury medically documented, and file a proper claim.

What if my employer or the insurance company is denying or delaying my benefits?

Unfortunately, this is a reality in many workers’ comp cases. The employer or the employer’s insurance company will try to deny or minimize benefits for the injured worker. This can happen in a number of ways, including:

  • The employer claims that the injury wasn’t job-related.
  • The employer claims that the injury was due to drug or alcohol intoxication on the part of the worker.
  • The insurance company claims that the worker hasn’t provided the right medical evidence.
  • The employer or insurance company takes too long to move the workers’ comp process forward.

Important: If any of these things happen, it’s not the end of the road. An experienced workers’ comp attorney can help you get all the benefits you need and deserve. Even if a drug test indicated a substance in your system shortly after the injury, you may still be able to get your benefits with the help of a workers’ comp lawyer. After all, just because a substance showed up in a drug test doesn’t automatically mean that was the cause of the accident.

What types of benefits are available?

If you’re completely unable to work as a result of your injuries, you may receive a large percentage of your previous wages. If you can still work but at limited capacity, you might receive a smaller percentage of your previous wages to offset the lost wages from your injury. Workers’ compensation also covers medical costs, including surgeries, medication and physical rehabilitation needed for a work-related injury. Remember: In the vast majority of cases, workers’ comp benefits are paid by the employer’s insurance company, not by the employer.

To learn more about benefits and the workers’ comp process, please see our Georgia workers’ comp FAQ.

A note on repetitive use injuries

A lot of people suffer repetitive use injuries at work. Whether it be a back injury from repetitive lifting or carpal tunnel from working production with fine motor skill manipulations of the hands on a repetitive basis, repetitive use and stress can be very painful and prevent you from working. However, in many cases, when workers start to hurt from heavy repetitive work, they don’t report it to their employer because there is NO SPECIFIC INCIDENT that caused the injury. Then, when the injury gets really bad, they just go to the hospital or complain about it to their employer well after the fact.

An important point about reporting your injury: If you think your aches and pains are due to your job duties, report it right away or as soon as possible to a supervisor or HR department. Don’t let weeks and months go by or until you’re in serious pain — because, by that point, your employer may not believe that you were injured at work. Always REPORT to your employer that you think a pain or injury is work-related. Then, if you get terminated, and you then ask for medical treatment, at least it is documented that you were contending some kind of work injury BEFORE your termination, and it does not look like a retaliatory claim for being terminated.

Clarifying to the doctor that your injury is work-related

When you go to the emergency room or to a doctor on your own after being injured at work, be sure to make abundantly clear to whoever is treating you that the injury or condition OCCURRED AT WORK and nowhere else. Too many people are not explicit enough with their medical provider. Instead, an injured worker might say, “My back has been hurting for a long time, I do a heavy job.” But that can misrepresent the situation. If you hurt your back at work because of heavy lifting, it’s important to tell the medical provider something like, “I hurt my back at work from all the heavy lifting I do on a daily basis.” That will help ensure that the initial medical records support the fact that the injury is work-related, and that will help ensure that you get all the workers’ comp benefits you need.

Where can you go for help with filing a claim?

If you’ve been injured on the job, it’s important to act quickly so that you can secure the compensation you need to recover from your injuries. Your attorney can educate you about the process and help you figure out how to get the highest amount of compensation possible. Additionally, insurance companies tend to be more likely to provide all the necessary benefits if the insurance company knows that the injured worker is backed by an experienced lawyer.