Georgia law requires all employers with three or more employees, including both full-time and part-time workers, to provide workers’ compensation coverage for on-the-job injuries. If you are injured on the job as a part-time employee, you will generally be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.
Requirements for Workers’ Compensation Coverage
To be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits, you simply need to have been injured while performing job duties within the course and scope of your employment with an employer that has at least three employees. The number of hours you work per week or your length of time with your employer are irrelevant. Age is also not a factor, which means a teen who was injured on his part-time job would be able to receive workers’ compensation if he meets the other necessary eligibility criteria.
Types of Benefits
Your workers’ compensation claim may include several different types of benefits:
- Medical benefits pay for the cost of care related to your workplace injury, including emergency room care, surgery, hospital stays, physical therapy, and prescription medication.
- Temporary Total Disability (TTD) benefits are intended to replace lost income if you’re unable to work at all because of your injury. These benefits pay two-thirds of your average weekly wage prior to your accident and are subject to a 400-week maximum.
- Temporary Partial Disability (TPD) benefits are designed to replace lost income if you are under light duty restrictions and are working fewer hours or returned to work in a lower-paying position due to your injury. These benefits will pay you two-thirds of the difference between your previous wage and the amount you are earning working light duty. TPD benefits are payable up to 350 weeks following your accident.
- Permanent Partial Disability (PPD) benefits are payable after you are no longer receiving TTD or TPD benefits, and have been assigned a permanent partial impairment rating by your treating physician. You will receive a number of weeks at the same rate as TTD benefits, which is determined by the percentage loss of use of the specific body part that was injured. To figure out exactly how much money you will receive in permanent partial disability benefits, you can use our PPD calculator.
- Death benefits for workers who’ve been killed in on-the-job accidents include funds for burial expenses as well as payments to the worker’s spouse and dependent children.
Benefits for Seasonal Employees
Seasonal employees, whether working part-time or full-time hours, are generally eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits if they meet all of the other necessary criteria. However, certain situations can limit your eligibility for benefits:
- Georgia law specifically exempts farm employers from being required to provide workers’ compensation coverage. If you’re hurt as a seasonal farm worker, you can only receive workers’ compensation benefits if your employer has voluntarily opted to purchase this insurance coverage.
- If you are a seasonal employee working on a job site through a temporary employment service, the agency that placed you in the position must provide your workers’ compensation benefits. Businesses utilizing the services of a temp agency are not considered the employer of the injured worker for the purpose of processing a workers’ compensation claim.
Benefits for Undocumented Workers
Georgia law doesn’t specifically bar undocumented workers from receiving workers’ compensation benefits if they have a legitimate on-the-job injury. Your immigration status is not relevant to your workers’ compensation claim, even if your employer was unaware that you were in the country illegally.
Benefits for Independent Contractors
Sometimes, unscrupulous employers will try to get out of paying workers’ compensation claims by classifying a part-time employee as an independent contractor. This distinction is extremely important, since independent contractors are not eligible for workers' compensation benefits.
There are several factors used to distinguish between an independent contractor and an employee. Factors pointing towards a finding that a person is an independent contractor include, but are not limited to: the individual has the right to exercise control over the time, manner, and method of the work he is to perform; the person is paid by the job or per unit of work rather than by the hour or other unit of time; the individual furnishes his own tools and equipment; the person sets his own hours rather than the alleged employer setting the same; the alleged employer does not withhold taxes from money paid to the individual; and the alleged employer does not have the right to add work without adding additional pay. It is important to understand that no single one of these factors is absolutely determinative of whether an individual will be deemed to be an independent contractor or an employee. Instead, it is up to an administrative law judge to determine the relative weight to be given each of the factors in your case.
If you feel that your employer is falsely claiming that you are an independent contractor in order to avoid paying you benefits, you should contact an attorney immediately for help regarding your claim.
Seeking Legal Assistance
If you’re a part-time employee who believes you have been unfairly denied workers’ compensation benefits, it is in your best interests to consult an attorney as soon as possible. Please call Rechtman & Spevak to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.