There is not a one-size-fits-all solution for recovering compensation after a workplace injury or illness. In fact, an injured worker often has a combination of options, including:
Workers’ compensation insurance
Third-party personal injury lawsuit
Social Security disability (SSD)
Family Medical Leave Act provisions (FMLA)
After a jobsite injury, your first course of action is to get coverage for immediate medical expenses and lost income through the Georgia workers’ compensation program. The funds allow you to get the medical care you need and replace a portion of your income so you can pay your bills. Depending on the nature and duration of your medical condition, you may also be eligible for total disability, temporary partial disability or permanent partial disability payments from your employer’s workers’ compensation insurer.
Alternatives to filing a workers’ compensation claim
Although workers’ compensation typically gives employers immunity from lawsuits, the program does not affect your right to sue a third party who was responsible for your injuries. For example, you may pursue damages from a negligent motorist who ran into you even as you collect workers’ compensation if the accident occurred while you were driving between sales calls. Likewise, you might sue a property owner for the slip and fall you suffered while making a delivery on the defective premises.
If your injury results in a disability and you have made the requisite Social Security tax payments, you may qualify for Social Security disability benefits. The government agency defines a disability, for purposes of SSD, as a medical condition that prevents you from performing your former job and adjusting your duties to other work, and that either has or is expected to last at least a year or to result in death.
The Family Medical Leave Act protects you when you return to work after an injury or illness. Under the FMLA, you have the right to unpaid, job-protected leave to obtain treatment for a serious health condition that interferes with the performance of your essential job functions.