What are my options if my employer doesn’t offer workers’ compensation insurance coverage?

A worker is shocked to learn that her employer will not cover her work-related injuryGeorgia law requires all employers with three or more employees to provide workers’ compensation coverage for their employees. If your employer violates this law by not having the required insurance, this does not affect your right to benefits.

What Penalties Are Associated With Violating the State's Workers' Compensation Law?

An employer who fails to provide the appropriate workers' compensation coverage will still be held responsible for an employee's on-the-job injuries. Types of benefits the employer may be responsible for paying include:

  • Medical benefits: An employer must pay for all necessary medical care related to the employee’s on-the-job injury, including emergency visits, follow-up appointments, physical therapy, and care from qualified medical specialists. Medical benefits have a 400-week cap, unless the injury is catastrophic. Catastrophic injuries are entitled to lifetime medical benefits.
     
  • Temporary Total Disability (TTD): When an employee is unable to work while recovering from an on-the-job injury, TTD benefits replace lost income, up to the state maximum of $575 per week. TTD benefits pay up to two-thirds of your average weekly wage before your accident. They are subject to a 400-week maximum, except for catastrophic injuries, which are payable for the rest of the injured worker's life.
     
  • Temporary Partial Disability (TPD): If an injured worker is able to return to light duty or part time work and is earning less than before the injury, TPD benefits provide compensation for up to two-thirds of the difference in wages, up to a maximum of $383 per week. TPD benefits can't be collected for longer than 350 weeks from the date of the injury.
     
  • Permanent Partial Disability (PPD): When a worker suffers injuries that lead to permanent impairment, PPD benefits are paid at the same rate as TTD benefits. The number of weeks a worker can receive benefits is based on the specific body part that is injured.
     
  • Death benefits: When a worker suffers fatal injuries, death benefits are paid to the worker's spouse and children to cover burial expenses and provide funds to compensate for the deceased worker’s loss of income.

In addition to these required benefits, the Georgia State Board of Workers' Compensation may assess penalties for refusing or willfully neglecting to secure insurance. This includes attorney’s fees, civil penalties, and a 10% increase in compensation to the employee.

What If the Law Doesn't Apply to My Employer?

If this workers’ compensation law does not apply to your employer (less than three employees) and you are injured in an on-the-job accident, you may have grounds to file a personal injury claim against the negligent party.

A personal injury claim allows you to seek compensation for:

  • Medical expenses: The bulk of a personal injury settlement is typically compensation for medical expenses, including previously incurred medical expenses as well as any estimated future medical care necessary for injuries resulting in lasting disability.
     
  • Lost wages: Compensation for lost wages includes time off to recover and any estimated loss of future earning potential if your injuries result in lasting physical or mental disability.
     
  • Pain and suffering: Pain and suffering isn’t a recoverable element of damages in a workers’ compensation claim, but can be included in personal injury suits to cover both the physical pain and emotional trauma associated with your injuries.

Unlike workers' compensation cases, a personal injury claim requires that the injured party prove negligence. Without evidence to prove that the employer failed to take reasonable care to prevent injuries, no compensation can be awarded.

How Can I Best Protect My Legal Rights?

If you've suffered an on-the-job injury, retaining the services of an experienced attorney will help protect your right to compensation. When your employer doesn't have the legally required workers' compensation coverage or is exempt from workers' compensation laws, your case will involve complex issues that are difficult to handle without an advocate on your side.

Rechtman & Spevak's legal team is committed to helping employees of Home Depot, United Parcel Service, FedEx, Delta Airlines, Emory University/Emory Healthcare, Kroger, Publix, Northside Hospital, Piedmont Healthcare, Walmart, Lowes, Waffle House, Chick-fil-A, Randstad, and other Georgia businesses receive prompt and fair compensation for their injuries. Call today to schedule a free, no-obligation case review.