How to receive workers’ comp benefits for a construction injury
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are approximately 200,000 construction workers in Georgia. Jobs in the construction industry have grown 28 percent over the past decade and are expected to continue growing over the next 10 years.
Unfortunately, the construction industry also leads in workplace injuries.
In 2018, the private construction industry in Georgia had the largest number of workplace fatalities (31). Of those deaths, 61 percent were in specialty contractor trades. In addition to these deaths, thousands more are injured while performing their duties on a construction site.
So what are your rights if you are injured while working construction in Georgia, and when should contact a workers’ compensation attorney?
Continue reading for the answers.
Common causes of construction accidents
There is no question that construction sites can be hazardous. In fact, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) even has a name for the most common accidents on a construction site: “The Fatal Four.” These include falls, being struck by an object, electrocutions and workers trapped between or beneath machinery, equipment and materials.
Because construction workers deal with heavy equipment, machinery and other materials, they are exposed to more risk of injury than other professions. Other accidents that occur often on construction sites include:
- Building collapse
- Exposure to dangerous substances
- Car and truck accidents
- Falling objects
- Crane accidents
- Dangerous or defective equipment
- Scaffolding accidents
- Explosions and fires
- Shoring accidents
- Toxic chemicals
- Welding accidents
Workers’ compensation for Georgia construction crews
Georgia employers are required to provide workers’ compensation for employees when they are hurt on the job. Georgia law requires that a claim be filed within 30 days of the injury or you risk being unable to collect compensation.
In addition, your employer may provide a list of doctors that you must use to treat your injury, known as the panel of physicians. This list must be posted in a conspicuous place and visible to all employees, such as a break room, by a time clock or in a lobby.
If your employer does not provide a list, the list is inaccurate or they have not provided you with information regarding how to use the list, you may seek treatment from any physician you choose and your medical costs must be covered by your employer or their insurance company.
What about subcontractors and workers’ compensation?
Georgia is 1 of 44 states that regulates workers’ compensation for subcontractors. Although the law excludes independent contractors from collecting, any employee of a subcontractor on a construction site should provide workers’ compensation to their employees.
However, there are instances when a subcontracting company has too few employees to require workers’ compensation coverage. In Georgia, the employee of the subcontractor may be considered a statutory employee of the general contractor.
Unsafe working and jobsite conditions
Even though construction can be a dangerous industry, it’s the responsibility of the employer to keep the job site as safe as possible. OSHA oversees construction site safety and has many regulations regarding safe practices on those sites that must be followed.
If you are injured while working on a construction site, OSHA may investigate the site to be sure all safety procedures are being followed. If your employer was using questionable business practices or cutting corners to save money at the risk of employee safety, they could face penalties.
Many construction workers avoid filing a workers’ compensation claim as they feel there will be retaliation should an investigation reveal unsafe practices. The fact is you can’t be fired or retaliated against for filing a workers’ compensation claim with your employer.
What workers’ compensation benefits are available to injured construction workers?
A workplace injury entitles you to coverage of your approved medical expenses as well as reimbursement of lost wages. Lost wages may fall into 4 different categories of benefits.
If you have a temporary disability that leaves you unable to work, you could be eligible for temporary total disability (TTD). If you can return to work with modified job duties (which could mean reduced hours and wages), you may be eligible for temporary partial disability (TPD).
If you lost the permanent function of a body part or body system, your physician will assign you a percentage of impairment in order for you to receive permanent partial disability (PPD). If it’s determined that you are totally and permanently disabled, your benefits will be based on the impairment rating system under permanent total disability (PTD).
Who’s liable in construction accidents?
Georgia law doesn’t allow you to sue your employer for work-related injuries. However, your employer may not be the only person liable for your injury. Construction site owners, architects, engineers, equipment manufacturers and others could be responsible for the accident that led to your injury. In that case, you may be able to sue a third party for additional compensation, including pain and suffering.
When you have been injured in a construction accident, it is in your best interests to contact an attorney as soon as possible to determine what rights you may have under the law.
If you have been injured in a construction accident, contact the Georgia law firm of Westmoreland, Patterson, Moseley & Hinson today by filling out the easy online contact form or give us a call. We will review your case, guide you through the entire process and fight to get you the compensation you are entitled to under the law.