Located in Clayton County, Georgia, The Millar Law Firm has been helping residents of College Park and surrounding communities recover compensation for their work-related injuries for almost 30 years.
It is not always clear when an injury is considered “work-related” under the law, but the attorneys at The Millar Law Firm can evaluate your case and decide who may be held responsible in a free consultation.
To be considered work-related, the injury generally occurs during the course of employment and is caused by some event or exposure in the work environment. Work injuries can happen on the employer’s premises, while traveling for work, or while performing job duties offsite. Some common examples of work-related injuries include:
- slips and falls,
- repetitive motion injuries,
- exacerbation of an existing injury,
- exposure to hazardous substances, and
- violence in the workplace.
Even an injury that happens outside an employee’s usual work location can be considered a work injury if it occurred during work hours while the employee was acting within the scope of their employment. Injuries that occur outside the scope of employment (i.e., during an employee’s personal time), however, may not be considered work-related depending on the circumstances.
For example, if an employee is injured while commuting to or from work or while taking a break, that injury is not typically considered work-related because it took place during the employee’s personal time.
However, there are exceptions to this rule. For example, if an employee was performing a work-related task during their break, such as picking up supplies for their job, their injury may be considered a work injury. Similarly, if an employee was injured while commuting in a company car or while traveling to a work conference, the injury may be classified as a work injury.
Regardless of where you are injured or the circumstances involved, you should speak to an experienced attorney to determine your legal rights and options for compensation.
Employer’s Responsibilities Regarding Workplace Safety
The specific duties an employer has regarding employee safety vary depending on the industry and the hazards present in the workplace. However, all employers have a general duty of care to take reasonable steps to protect their employees from harm. This duty means that employers must:
- Provide a safe workplace free from hazards,
- Train employees on how to safely perform their job duties,
- Provide adequate safety equipment, such as personal protective equipment (PPE),
- Monitor the workplace for hazards and take steps to remedy them, and
- Investigate safety concerns and accidents and take steps to prevent them from happening again.
If an employer breaches this duty of care and this breach causes an injury and damages to an employee, the employer may be considered negligent under the law.
Though different industries have specific safety regulations and standards that an employer must comply with, there are certain general safety regulations that govern all workplaces. These include:
- The Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA), which is a federal law that sets forth general standards covering a wide range of hazards, such as falls, electrical dangers, and exposure to chemicals.
- The Hazard Communication Standard (HCS), which requires employers to provide information to employees about the hazards of chemicals in the workplace.
- The PPE Standard, which requires employers to provide employees with necessary PPE, such as hard hats, safety goggles, and gloves, to protect them from hazards in the workplace.
- The Lockout/Tagout Standard, which requires employers to take steps to prevent employees from being injured by machinery that is being serviced or repaired by locking out the machinery and tagging it so that it cannot be used.
Employers who fail to comply with applicable safety regulations can be subject to fines and criminal penalties.
Identifying Negligence by Your Employer After a Work Injury
In Georgia, employers with three or more employees are required to provide worker’s compensation insurance benefits to employees who are injured on the job. Worker’s compensation is a no-fault system of coverage, which means that the employee does not have to prove that the employer was negligent to receive benefits (unlike a lawsuit). These benefits can include medical expenses, lost wages, and vocational rehabilitation.
To recover costs under a worker’s compensation claim, your employer must have a valid worker’s compensation insurance policy. If an employer is required to carry worker’s compensation insurance and does not, that employer may be subject to fines and criminal penalties under state law.
In many cases, worker’s compensation benefits are the only option available for employees injured on the job, even if a worker’s injury was caused by the negligence of the employer or fellow employees. However, employers who do not have worker’s compensation insurance may be sued for negligence by an injured employee and be ordered to pay the employee’s medical costs, current and future lost wages, and pain and suffering—an amount that may be far more than what an employee could receive for a worker’s compensation claim.
To win a lawsuit, the employee must prove that their employer breached the duty of care they owe to provide a safe workplace and that this breach caused an injury to the employee. The duty of care can be breached in several different ways, such as failing to train or supervise employees, failing to remedy a hazardous condition (e.g., faulty equipment or dangerous chemicals), or negligent hiring practices.
For example, if the employer hired or retained a person with a history of reckless behavior and that individual hurt another employee, the injured employee may have a negligence claim against the employer for failing to provide a safe work environment.
Keep in mind that the type of work you do may affect the level of care your employer must provide. Some industries are more regulated than others because the work involved is inherently more dangerous, which means that it may be easier to prove that the employer breached the duty of care.
Identifying Whether Another Party Is Liable for a Work Injury
Sometimes, work-related injuries are caused by third parties rather than the employer or another employee. Third parties who may cause injury in the workplace can include vendors, contractors, subcontractors, or on-site engineers who make mistakes or behave negligently. Alternatively, if a worker is injured by a faulty or dangerous machine or piece of equipment, the employee may be able to file a product liability lawsuit against the product manufacturing company.
Third parties can also be held liable for an employee’s work-related injuries that occur outside the workplace. For example, if an employee is injured in an auto accident on the highway while driving for work, the other driver may be held liable for negligence. If a worker is injured while visiting a customer’s home or business property, they may have a premises liability claim against the property owner.
To prove third-party liability, the injured worker must show that the third party owed them a duty of care and that their breach of this duty caused an injury and damages. If a third party is responsible, you can file a claim against their business insurance policy or their personal liability policy.
Though you may also be able to file a worker’s compensation claim for your costs, pursuing a third-party liability claim can allow you to recover additional damages. If your additional costs exceed the third party’s insurance policy limit, you can collect your remaining damages from the third party directly.
The Millar Law Firm has many years of experience identifying when third parties are responsible for work injuries and finding all applicable insurance coverage so that workers receive maximum compensation.
What Evidence Is Required to Win a Work Injury Lawsuit?
To build a strong case and increase your chances of winning a work injury lawsuit, you or your attorney should gather as much evidence as possible immediately after the accident. The type of evidence needed to prove your case will vary depending on the circumstances, but strong evidence may include:
- Medical records. Medical records can provide documentation of your injuries, including the nature, severity, and treatment. Seeking medical treatment right away after the accident is important.
- Witness statements. Statements from people who saw the accident happen can be crucial evidence at trial.
- Photos or videos of the accident scene. Photos or videos provide concrete evidence that can help prove how the accident occurred.
- Employer records. Safety logs and training records may help prove the employer was negligent in hiring or training workers or failing to maintain a safe workplace.
- Expert testimony. In some cases, experts may need to testify about the nature and severity of your injuries and related costs.
- Police reports. If the police were called to the scene of the accident, the report may provide valuable evidence about what happened.
- OSHA records. OSHA records can provide information about the employer’s history and compliance with safety regulations, which may help prove negligence.
- Employee documents. Providing tax returns, payment stubs, invoices, and other bills can help document lost income and other economic losses.
Collecting the evidence necessary to build a work injury claim can seem overwhelming after an accident, but when you hire The Millar Law Firm, we go to work immediately to gather evidence so that you can rest and recover.
FAQS About Work Injury Claims
The type of compensation you may receive for a work injury claim depends on whether you file a lawsuit or rely solely on worker’s compensation for coverage. Worker’s compensation is more limited and includes costs such as medical expenses, a portion of lost wages, and vocational rehabilitation. If you file a lawsuit, you are entitled to compensation that makes you whole, which includes not only medical costs and lost wages (past and future) but noneconomic costs such as pain and suffering and diminished quality of life.
In Georgia, the statute of limitations to file a worker’s compensation claim is one year, while the statute of limitations for a personal injury lawsuit is two years. “Statute of limitations” means you have that specific amount of time to file a claim starting from the date you suffered the injury.
Any work injury claim you file against your employer is actually a claim against their insurance company. If your employer has worker’s compensation coverage, your claim is against that policy. If your employer does not have worker’s compensation coverage, your claim is against their business or general insurance policy. Because the insurance company pays your claim, the money does not come out of your employer’s pocket.
In Georgia, it is illegal to fire someone for filing a work injury lawsuit against their employer. If you are fired for filing a work injury lawsuit, you may be able to file a wrongful termination lawsuit against your employer
Experience and Focus: The Personal Injury Cases Handled by Our College Park Attorneys
Accidents on the Job Should Never Cost You Money
College Park offers all sorts of employment opportunities to its residents and is home to Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, where approximately 63,000 people work. As in all industries, accidents on the job happen on a regular basis, but you should not have to pay costs for work injuries out of your own pocket.
At The Millar Law Firm, our attorneys have been helping local workers who have been injured on the job for almost 30 years. If you were injured while working, you should talk to an experienced attorney about your case. Call The Millar Law Firm today at (770) 400-0000 or contact us online to set up a free consultation.