Steps to take if you’ve been injured on the job as an autoworker
There are more than 200 automotive-related businesses located in Georgia, contributing more than $3 billion to the economy of the state. The automotive industry in Georgia began in 1909 when the first car was assembled in the state.
Some of the biggest auto manufacturers companies that operate in Georgia include the Blue Bird Corporation, General Motors, Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia, Mercedes-Benz USA, Porsche Cars North America and ZF Gainesville LLC.
Although the auto industry supports the state economy significantly, it’s also an industry fraught with dangers. Each year, many automotive workers are injured while performing their job duties.
Common work injuries in the automotive industry
According to the National Institutes of Health, the most common injuries that automotive workers suffer from include:
- Back injuries
- Sprains and strains
Because many auto workers are exposed to hazardous working conditions—including fast-moving assembly lines, large vehicle parts and more—injuries on the job are quite common. In addition to traumatic injuries, workers may also suffer occupational illnesses and conditions such as carpal and cubital tunnel syndrome, tennis elbow and tendonitis caused by repetitive movements.
On-site medical treatment
Many automotive companies provide on-site medical treatment. When an employee is injured, they are sent to the company nurse who sometimes fails to identify an injury and sends them back to the assembly line. Injured employees should ensure that a workers’ compensation report be filed, regardless of how minor the injury seems to the nurse.
If possible, take notes or record the conversation with the nurse to document your complaint. In addition, under Georgia law, companies must post a list of at least 6 doctors authorized to treat on-the-job injuries. This list must be posted in a common work area, such as a break room or lobby, where it is visible to all employees.
Georgia workers’ compensation benefits
When you are injured on the job, you are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits under Georgia law. You are entitled to lost wages and payment for your medical costs. Your lost wages are determined by the rate of pay you received when you were injured.
Depending on how severe your injury is, you may be eligible for temporary total or partial benefits or for permanent partial disability benefits. The type of benefit you receive will depend on whether you will be able to return to work eventually or whether you will no longer be able to work at all.
Although the automotive industry does have some known workplace hazards, your employer is required to make it as safe as they possibly can.
The Georgia automotive industry has drawn some attention from federal authorities for its high rate of workplace injury.
In 2014, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced that inspectors would target automotive companies in Georgia, Mississippi and Alabama due to injuries that had led to severe amputations and death.
These inspections led to many changes in the automotive industry designed to protect employees from serious injury.
Should you speak to a workers’ comp attorney?
If you have been injured on the job in an automotive company in Georgia, the first thing to do is to seek medical treatment and file a workers’ compensation claim with your manager or HR representative. Then, you should contact a qualified workers’ compensation attorney who will fight for your rights under the law.
In some cases, employers calculate the amount you should receive as lost wages incorrectly. An attorney will review the amount and determine if it needs to be recalculated.
Hiring an attorney doesn’t mean you plan to sue your employer; it’s just a way to protect your rights.
Keep in mind you are also fighting a large automotive company with many attorneys on retainer. Filing a workers’ compensation claim can be very complicated, allowing the insurance company and the company lawyers to avoid paying. An attorney can also seek advice from medical experts that may also improve your odds of receiving the right compensation.
If you or a loved one were injured while working in the automotive industry in Georgia, or a loved one died of injuries sustained at work, it’s critical that you speak to a qualified workers’ compensation attorney as soon as possible.
Injuries sustained in the automotive industry may seem minor at first, but they can increase in severity over time. You want to have someone in your corner fighting for you and getting you the compensation you are entitled to receive under the law.
At the Georgia law firm of Westmoreland, Patterson, Moseley & Hinson, we have decades of experience helping people just like you get the compensation they deserve. Simply fill out the online form on our website or give us a call today to see how we can help. We will guide you through the entire process and provide you with information on what you need to do next.