Are teens eligible for workers’ compensation benefits?

Teens who are hurt in on-the-job accidents have the same right to workers’ compensation benefits as their adult coworkers. However, they may need an attorney to advocate for their right to compensation.

Workplace Accidents Can Cause Serious Injuries for Teens

Child labor laws prohibit teens from engaging in the most dangerous workplace tasks, but there are still a number of ways in which a teen can be injured at a part-time or summer job. For example:

  • Back injury from lifting a child at a daycare facility.
  • Slip and fall accidents while waiting tables.
  • Grease burns from working at Chick-fil-A or another fast food restaurant.
  • Fall from a ladder while retrieving items from a high shelf at Kroger or another local grocery store.
  • Heat stroke or heat exhaustion while lifeguarding at a local pool.
  • Chemical burns from using toxic cleaners at a custodial service.
  • Cuts or fractures from using lawnmowers or other types of landscaping equipment.
  • Car accident injuries while working as a pizza delivery driver.

Workers’ compensation benefits have no length of service or hour requirements. Workers gain access to benefits on their first day of employment, regardless of whether they are considered full-time, part-time, temporary, or seasonal workers.

Fault does not play a role in eligibility for workers’ compensation benefits, so teens can collect benefits even when they are partially at fault for the accident due to their youth and inexperience. The only exceptions to the no-fault rule for workers’ compensation benefits are for accidents caused by horseplay and drug/alcohol use.

Workers’ compensation benefits are generally the sole remedy against an employer for work-related accidents, unless there is evidence that an employer was violating child labor laws or illegally allowing a teen to perform dangerous tasks. If, however, you are involved in an accident due to the fault of someone other than your employer or a co-employee, you may be able to bring a claim against that person. The most common situation where this arises is when you are involved in a car accident while on-the-job.

Types of Benefits Teens Can Access

The types of benefits a teen can receive through workers’ compensation will depend upon the severity of the injury, but may include:

  • Medical care. Workers’ compensation is required to pay for the cost of medical care necessary to treat a work-related injury. However, injured workers are required to seek medical care from the panel of physicians—a list of doctors preapproved by the workers’ compensation insurer. This means that a teen won’t be able to seek care from his regular family physician.
     
  • Income replacement. If the injury leaves a teen unable to work, he may be able to receive Temporary Total Disability (TTD) benefits, which are payments in the amount of two-thirds of your average weekly wage up to a maximum of $575 per week.
     
  • Permanent Injury. Permanent Partial Disability (PPD) benefits compensate workers who have suffered permanent injury as the result of an on-the-job accident. These benefits are payable at the rate of two-thirds of your average weekly wage for the number of weeks dictated by the percentage of bodily loss.  You can determine the amount you are entitled to by entering the body part and impairment rating into the PPD calculator on our website.  
  • Death benefits. Fatal workplace injuries involving teens are fortunately very rare, but death benefits of up to $7,500 are available to pay for the funeral and burial costs of those who are killed in on-the-job accidents.

Protecting a Teen’s Right to Compensation

The single most important thing a teen can do to protect his right to workers’ compensation benefits is to provide notice of the accident and injury with his employer as soon as possible.  

There is no legal requirement to retain an attorney in order to receive workers’ compensation benefits. However, some employers may be reluctant to provide injured teens with the benefits they are entitled to receive under the law. In this case, retaining the services of a workers’ compensation attorney can be invaluable in maximizing available benefits.

The experienced attorneys at Rechtman & Spevak are committed to helping Georgia residents obtain the workers’ compensation benefits they need to recover from their injuries. Contact us today to schedule a free, no-obligation initial case review.