Georgia’s workers’ compensation laws play an important role in allowing injured employees to recover for injuries they sustained on the job. Most employers are required to have workers’ compensation or be self-insured. However, there are some Georgia occupations that are not covered by workers’ compensation, so if you were injured while at work, it is important to speak with an experienced Atlanta workers compensation attorney who can explain your legal options, including whether you are a covered employee.
Employers who hire three or more individuals, all of whom are regularly in service in the state of Georgia are required to have workers’ compensation insurance. To be regularly in service, an employee does not have to be constantly or continuously working. Instead, it is enough to show that it is an employer’s routine practice to utilize at least three employees. While this covers most employees in Georgia, there are some workers that do not satisfy this criteria. For example, independent contractors are not entitled to workers’ compensation. To determine whether a person is a contracted employee or an independent contractor, courts will look at a number of factors, including:
- Whether the worker signed an independent contractor agreement;
- Whether the worker is paid at an hourly rate, collects a salary, or is paid at the completion of each job;
- Whether the employer withholds taxes;
- Whether the worker’s job is part of the employer’s regular business or constitutes an additional service;
- Who supplies the worker’s materials and tools;
- Whether the employer controls the worker’s hours; and
- Whether the employer determines how the work must be performed.
Even when a worker does not receive a wage, he or she can still be considered a covered employee. For instance, volunteers and elected officials are considered employees for the purposes of workers’ compensation. Temporary workers and migrant workers are also covered.
Aside from independent contractors, there are a number of specific professions that are not covered by Georgia’s workers’ compensation laws, including:
- Federal employees, such as postal service workers, who are covered by a separate system of compensation;
- Railroad employees, including those who are employed by common carriers involved in interstate commerce;
- Farmers and farm laborers, including anyone employed to raise, feed, or care for wildlife;
- Partners in a business, although these individuals can voluntarily choose to provide workers’ compensation coverage;
- Domestic workers, such as housekeepers, babysitters, and those who work in the home; and
- Licensed real estate salespersons or associate brokers who have a written contract providing that they are independent contractors.
Sports officials, or neutral participants in a sports event, including umpires, referees, judges, linesmen, scorekeepers, and timekeepers are also exempt from coverage, as are the following individuals:
- Those who serve as sports officials for an entity that sponsors interscholastic or intercollegiate sports events; and
- Workers who act as sports officials for a public entity or a private, nonprofit organization that is sponsoring an amateur sports event.
However, employees of organizations that sponsor sports events and who perform services as a referee, linesman, or umpire as part of their regular employment are not considered sports officials and so are covered by workers’ compensation.
Workers’ compensation also does not cover independent contract carriers who perform services for a publisher or distributor of printed materials by transporting, assembling, or delivering printed materials or who maintain its facilities or equipment if all of the following factors are satisfied:
- The worker has a written contract as an independent contractor;
- Payment is made on the basis of the number of deliveries accomplished;
- The employer does not exercise any control regarding the method of transporting, assembling, delivering, or distributing the printed materials; and
- The contract does not prohibit the worker from transporting or distributing printed materials for another employer.
Just because an occupation is not covered under Georgia’s workers’ compensation laws does not mean that an employee cannot recover for an injury. Many employers choose to provide workers’ compensation for their employees even if they are not required to do so by law. In these cases, employees who are injured on the job will still be able to recover medical benefits and lost wages for their work-related injuries. Alternatively, certain exempted occupations are covered by specific compensation programs. For instance, federal employees who become injured or ill while on the job can collect compensation for medical benefits and wage loss under the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act (FECA). Under this law, the U.S. government will provide compensation for the disability or death of a federal employee unless the injury or death was:
- Caused by the willful misconduct of the employee;
- Caused by the employee’s intention to bring about his or her own injury or the injury of another person; or
- Proximately caused by his or her intoxication.
Even when employees do not qualify for workers’ compensation and their employer did not voluntarily opt to obtain workers’ compensation insurance, the employees may still be eligible to recover for their work-related injuries by filing a claim against the employer in court. Unlike workers’ compensation cases, these injured workers will need to establish that their employer’s negligence caused the accident. Additionally, employers will no longer be barred from raising defenses such as assumption of risk.
Contact an Experienced Atlanta Workers’ Compensation Attorney Today
Being injured on the job can be both painful and frightening, especially for those who work in an occupation that is not covered by the state’s workers’ compensation laws. Fortunately, injured parties who are not covered by workers’ compensation can still recover for their medical losses. If you live in or near Atlanta and were recently injured while performing a job related duty, please contact the law firm of Ted A. Greve & Associates, P.A. by filling out one of our standard contact forms, including your name, email address, phone number, and a brief description of your case and a member of our dedicated legal team will help you set up a free consultation with an experienced & determined workers’ compensation attorney in Atlanta.