Workers’ compensation laws throughout the country are designed to help protect the vast majority of employees from serious financial hardship if they suffer a job-related injury. Workers’ comp covers medical care and also pays a portion of an employee’s lost wages if they can’t work for a time due to their injury. It also provides death benefits to family members of workers who suffer fatal work-related injuries.
According to the Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation, an employer must have workers’ comp insurance if they “regularly employ three or more persons.” These don’t necessarily have to be full-time employees. For example, if an employee regularly works part-time or even seasonally, as many construction workers do, they can be considered one of these three employees.
The responsibility of the general contractor
Although that covers most Georgia businesses that are subcontracted by a general contractor on a project, some may still not be required to carry workers’ comp insurance under the law. If they’re required to but don’t, they can be held liable civilly and criminally by the state and also be “responsible for compensable injuries in the same manner as an employer having coverage.”
However, if you’re injured while working for a subcontractor that doesn’t have workers’ comp insurance, for whatever reason, it’s important to know what the general contractor’s responsibility is. According to the workers’ comp board, “A contractor who is subject to the Workers ’ Compensation Law, who sublets any part of his or her contract work to a subcontractor, may be liable for coverage for the employees of the subcontractor if the subcontractor has not obtained workers’ compensation insurance coverage.”
In short, if you are working on a construction-type project for a subcontractor who does not have workers’ compensation insurance, you can always file a claim against the general contractor’s insurance.
Understanding and protecting your rights
Smart general contractors will make sure that any subcontractors they hire have required workers’ compensation insurance so they’re not in the position of having to pay the subcontractors’ injured workers.
All you need to know is that if you’re injured while working for a subcontractor that is uninsured, you may have the option of seeking workers’ compensation through the general contractor’s insurance. It’s important to know your rights. It can help to have legal guidance to help protect those rights.