How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected workers' comp claims for warehouse workers in Georgia?

Not only have warehouse and distribution center workers been deemed essential by the state of Georgia under the COVID-19 stay-at-home order, but there is also a demand for more workers to staff these services. Warehouse and fulfillment center workers were overworked and suffering high rates of injury before the COVID-19 outbreak, so it’s likely they will struggle even more with debilitating injuries during the crisis. These workers are entitled to Georgia workers’ comp benefits if they are unable to work because of a workplace injury, but the process of applying has been complicated by closed offices and unprecedented circumstances.

Warehouse employees face workers' comp hurdles during the COVID-19 pandemicWarehouse Workers Face Hazardous Conditions in Ordinary Times

As non-essential workers across Georgia are ordered to stay home during the pandemic, many are turning to delivery for the groceries and other goods they need. This has placed a heavy burden on online retailers such as Amazon and Walmart.

In order to stock their warehouses and fulfill orders, the companies have passed that burden on to workers. Amazon didn’t have a great safety record before the crisis, and workers often experienced serious back injuries, traumatic brain injury, sprains, strains, and repetitive stress injuries caused by:

  • Falling objects
  • Lifting and carrying heavy objects
  • Stretching and twisting to reach objects
  • Repetitive motions, such as loading boxes and stocking shelves
  • Forklift accidents

Now that warehouse employees are working longer hours, filling more orders, taking on unfamiliar duties, and working with inexperienced new-hires, injuries are even more likely than they were before. However, just like before the pandemic, Georgia workers are entitled to file for workers’ comp benefits if they are unable to work due to an on-the-job injury.

Filing a New Claim for Georgia Workers’ Compensation

If you are injured at work in a warehouse, do not hesitate to pursue workers’ comp. New claims are being accepted, but the process may be more complicated than it was before. Regardless, you should first report the injury to your manager and then get medical treatment. You can see any doctor the first time if it is an emergency, but after that, you will need to see a doctor from your employer’s panel of physicians, if you can get an appointment. At this time, you may only be able to get a telephone consultation.

Even if you do get a consultation, you probably won’t be able to follow through on all of the treatment recommendations. You can and should still file a claim with Georgia’s State Board of Workers’ Compensation and send copies to your employer and their insurance company. It’s hard to say how quickly things will move after that. However, you can make sure you are doing all you can to get the compensation you deserve by talking to one of our workers’ compensation attorneys before filing a claim. In these uncertain times, it’s more important than ever to have an advocate on your side to protect your rights.

People Currently Collecting Workers’ Comp May Also Have Problems

If you are currently collecting Georgia workers’ comp, you will also face some challenges. You might not be able to get the treatment you need to recover from your injury, which will affect your recovery timeline. If your light-duty assignment was eliminated, you might now need income benefits. While all hearings have been postponed due to judicial order, some workers’ comp issues are still being resolved by judges via teleconference. Now is the time to consult our experienced legal team to find out what you should do to protect your benefits.

Call Us to Today for Honest Answers to Your Questions

As a warehouse worker, you probably never thought of yourself as an essential member of the community before. Now, however, thousands of people depend on you to get the supplies they need to comply with Governor Kemp’s order. We want you to know that the lawyers and staff at Rechtman & Spevak are available to help you with your legal matters. We are offering free virtual consultations via video conference in lieu of in-person meetings, and we are also accessible through e-mail, text, and phone. If you have a question about a new or existing workers’ comp claim, please reach out to us as soon as possible.

 

Jaret A. Spevak
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Atlanta Personal Injury & Workers’ Compensation Attorney With 20+ Years Experience