Nobody expects to become injured on the job, but it happens to the best of people. Some accidents are truly unavoidable, but even when an accident could have been prevented, workers have a legal right to file a workers’ compensation claim through their employer.
Were you injured recently on the job?
If you were recently injured on the job and are within your state’s statute of limitations, you can file a workers’ compensation claim. However, there are certain circumstances that don’t qualify for compensation, which will be discussed shortly.
To qualify for workers’ compensation, your injury must have been sustained while you were performing job-related duties. For example, if you fell off a ladder while performing a task on the clock, your injury qualifies.
A qualifying injury can also happen outside the employer’s property. For example, if you’re a delivery driver and you get into an accident, you can file a claim. Also, if you are on the job working at a trade show when you become injured, you also qualify to file a claim.
Can I file a personal injury lawsuit, too?
Most injuries only qualify for workers’ comp. The entire workers’ comp system was set up to prevent lawsuits, after all. However, there are exceptions.
In Georgia, injured employees can pursue a workers’ compensation claim and a personal injury claim under certain circumstances. For example, when a third party’s negligence caused your injury, you can file a personal injury claim on top of your workers’ compensation claim.
In this context, a third party is someone other than your employer or another employee. For example, a passerby, another driver on the road, a contractor, subcontractor, or defective machinery.
Do all injuries qualify for workers’ compensation insurance?
Workers’ compensation insurance was created to provide compensation to injured workers regardless of fault. Although, not all injuries qualify for workers’ compensation, for example:
- Injuries caused by an “act of God”
- Common illnesses like headaches or the flu
- Pre-existing conditions
- Injuries caused by participating in recreational activities at events not required as part of the job (as long as it wasn’t on company property during business hours)
- Injuries caused by the employee’s own intoxication of drugs or alcohol
- Horseplay and fighting (unless the fight was about something job-related)
Can temporary employees file for workers’ compensation?
Since temporary employees are, in fact, employees, they are covered by workers’ compensation insurance. There is no difference between a temp and a full-time employee under employment law in that regard.
Business owners are responsible for the safety of all employees no matter how long they will be working for the company.
Can employees with contracts qualify for workers’ compensation?
Yes, absolutely. When you are a bonafide employee and not an independent contractor, and you are injured on the job, you can file a workers’ comp claim through your employer. It doesn’t matter if your job contract is for one week, one month, a year, or at will.
Do independent contractors qualify for workers’ comp?
Independent contractors are not eligible for workers’ compensation, but they can file a personal injury lawsuit if they were injured on a job site. If you’re an independent contractor and you win a personal injury lawsuit, your claim will be compensated out of the business’ liability insurance policy.
Employees vs. contractors
Most people know whether they’re an employee or a contractor, but in case you aren’t sure, an employee has no control over where, when, or how they perform work. Their employer provides them with tasks they must complete.
On the other hand, an independent contractor usually controls how and when they perform their tasks. In situations where they’re working with clients who have specific needs, contractors can be told what to do, but they don’t have an obligation to perform the work.
Your tax withholdings can also help you determine if you’re an employee or contractor.
If you receive paychecks with federal payroll taxes taken out for Social Security and Medicare, then you are an employee. If you receive your payment without any taxes deducted and you work on your own time with your own tools, you’re an independent contractor.
You can also hire a workers’ comp attorney
If you’re not sure what to do, you can hire a workers comp attorney to help you sort out the details. An attorney can help you get the compensation you need to cover your medical bills and replace lost income.
If you’ve been injured in Georgia, you might qualify for a personal injury lawsuit on top of workers’ comp. The only way to know for sure is to consult with a lawyer as soon as possible.
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