Georgia law requires employers to provide workers’ compensation benefits so employees hurt at work will have medical costs paid and will receive disability income if their ability to work is curtailed by illness or injury. Under O.C..A. section 34-9-80, an injured employee or his or her representative must provide notice of an accident at work. This notice should be provided immediately after an accident occurs or as soon as practical after the incident. The statute requiring notice indicates that the information about the injury may be provided to an employer, agent, representative, supervisor or foreman. Compensation for a work injury is available only if adequate notice is provided.
Unfortunately, sometimes questions can arise regarding whether an employee promptly and properly alerted an employer to a workplace injury. This can jeopardize a workers right to receive benefits and make the workers’ compensation claims process much more complicated. To avoid problems, it is best to consult with an Atlanta work injury lawyer after an incident at work that causes sickness or injury. An attorney can help you to notify your employer and pursue a workers’ compensation claim.
What is “Notice” for a Georgia Workplace Injury?
Giving proper notice is required after an injury because no workers’ compensation benefits are available unless an employee has alerted his or her employer either verbally or in writing within 30 days of an accident occurring or within 30 days of a death caused by a work incident. The only exceptions to this 30-day requirement is if it can be demonstrated that fraud, deceit, or physical or mental incapacity prevented the employer from providing notice; or if the employee has a reasonable excuse for not notifying an employer and can prove to the State Board of Workers’ Compensation that the employer was not prejudiced by the delayed notice. However, the law also makes clear that if an employer has knowledge of the accident or incident, these notice requirements may be relaxed.
Recently, the Georgia Court of Appeals took a close look at what is considered “notice,” and whether an employee has met the notice requirements. In a case called McAdoo v. MARTA, a worker was employed as a bus driver by MARTA when he began to experience back pain. His supervisor encouraged the bus driver to get medical assistance because the employee was operating the bus in a different way as a result of the symptoms. The bus driver saw his family doctor and was referred to a neurologist for treatment. Both the neurologist and the family doctor filled out disability forms, indicating on the forms that the injury was not related to his job.
The employee stopped working in October of 2010, and completed a short-term disability form in 2010 on which he stipulated that his disability was caused by his job. The question was whether the employer was sufficiently notified by this short-term disability form and the Georgia Court of Appeals determined that the form was sufficient. This is because the information contained on the form provided sufficient information to put the employer on notice of a potential work injury.
While this was good news for the employee, he still had to go all the way to the Court of Appeals to move his work injury claim forward. You need to ensure that you get help from an Atlanta workers’ compensation lawyer right away to avoid potential problems or questions about eligibility for benefits.
The Atlanta work injury lawyers at Sammons & Carpenter, P.C. offer free consultations to injured employees. Call today or contact us online to learn more.