The simple answer is: yes. Even if you accidentally injure yourself while working, you can still receive workers' comp. (There are some exceptions, and we have listed those below.)
Here is what you need to know about fault vs. workers’ compensation.
A dozen states including Georgia follow “no-fault” workers’ compensation laws. A no-fault workers' compensation system means that you don’t have to prove that your employer or anyone else’s negligence caused your injuries. This also means that you don’t have to sue your employer in order to receive workers’ compensation benefits.
No matter who or what caused your injuries, the workers’ compensation insurance company is obligated to cover your medical bills and lost wages as long as the accident happened within the course and scope of your employment.
What If You Are Injured in a Car Accident and Found At Fault?
Auto accidents are one of the most common reasons workers are injured on the job. Drivers of tractor-trailer trucks, pick-up trucks, and 2- or 4-door sedans suffered the largest portion of work-related motor vehicle fatalities.
Should you become involved in a car accident and the investigating police officer determines you were at fault, that still does not prevent you from filing for workers’ compensation (in most circumstances). What it does prevent you from claiming is compensation for personal injury.
However, if you were injured in a crash while driving at the behest of your employer and aren't found at fault for the accident, you may be able to file for both a workers’ compensation claim and a personal injury claim. This is also known as a third-party claim.
Exceptions to the “No Fault” Workers’ Compensation Rule
There are some limitations when it comes to the no-fault rule in Georgia.
Intoxication - If the insurance company discovers that an injured worker may have had alcohol or drugs in their system at the time of the accident, and it can be proven that its effects played a significant role in the circumstances surrounding the incident, they may deny the claim for workers’ comp.
Willful Misconduct - This is when the worker purposefully injured themself or puts themself in a dangerous situation where they were likely to be injured. For example, a worker refuses to wear the required eye protection while handling dangerous materials and then suffers an eye injury as a result. Willful misconduct is a serious accusation; there is a high burden of proof required when denying worker benefits.
What If Your Employer or Insurance Company is Denying or Delaying Your Benefits?
This is an unfortunate hassle for many workers’ comp cases, even when the injured employee did nothing wrong. The insurance company often doesn’t want to pay workers’ compensation, so the adjusters will try to deny or minimize benefits.
The insurance company or the employer may try to use excuses, such as:
- The injury wasn’t job-related, or it didn’t happen during work hours
- The worker had drugs or alcohol in their system before the accident
- Not enough medical evidence has been provided to show there was a serious injury
- The worker waited too long to report the injury
An experienced workers’ comp lawyer can determine whether or not these claims have merit. They can fight to get you the benefits you deserve. Even if a drug test comes back positive for a substance in your system after the injury, you may still be able to file a claim.
Consult With a Workers’ Compensation Attorney to Learn Your Rights
Whether or not a work accident injury was your fault, you are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits under Georgia law. Even if you are accused of misconduct or not adhering to safety guidelines, it is still worth talking to a lawyer about your case.
For any questions about Georgia workers’ compensation law, don’t hesitate to contact Gary Martin Hays & Associates. Consultations are free and completely confidential.