What is Workers’ Comp Insurance?
Georgia Workers’ Compensation Insurance protects an employee who suffers an accident while doing their job. This means that if a worker in Atlanta suffers an accident at their workplace or during the workday, their employer will have to cover the cost of their recovery, including disability, partial loss of wages, and their family could even file a claim if the worker dies on the job. However, not all workers are covered by workers’ comp insurance, as Georgia law requires it only for businesses with three or more employees. This guide explains who should be protected by worker’s compensation insurance and how to differentiate a worker from a contractor or self-employed worker.
Is workers' compensation insurance mandatory in Georgia?
Workers’ compensation insurance is a right that workers are entitled to have in the state of Georgia and almost every state in the United States. Therefore, your employer is required to pay for it and it applies under the following rules:
- Part-time workers and seasonal workers
If you are part of a business where you work only part-time (less than thirty hours a week), you and the other employees also count as such for Georgia workers’ compensation insurance purposes, as long as they are regular employees. For example, if there is one part-time and two full-time permanent employees, all three will be entitled to workers’ compensation Insurance. Likewise, suppose you are in a business or office where you are a seasonal worker, and there are three or more workers, where all attend regularly. In that case, the three employees are entitled to worker’s compensation insurance according to Georgia Law.
- Limited liability and corporate companies
Partners or members of a limited liability company (LLC) count as employees for compensation insurance purposes. However, they may voluntarily exempt themselves from the obligation to have worker’s compensation insurance. For this, they will have to contact their insurance company and do the paperwork. But keep in mind that there may not be more than five exceptions in a single company. Remember, these exemptions do not reduce the number of employees to determine the employer’s obligations under the Workers’ Compensation Act. That means if three partners sign the exemption, but there are still two more employees, those two employees must have Workers’ Comp insurance. Since, in total, they add up to more than three, they fall within the rule that makes worker’s compensation insurance mandatory.
Industries where Workers' Comp insurance is not required in Georgia
Some industries in Georgia are exempt from having workers’ compensation insurance; however, this is evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
The industries exempt from Workers’ Comp are:
- Day Laborers
- Rail Carriers
- United States government agencies
- Independent Contractors
Freelance workers and workers’ compensation insurance
The rule seems straightforward. Businesses and companies with more than three employees must have workers’ compensation insurance. However, if you are not an employee but rather a contractor or independent worker, the person or company that hires you is not required to ensure you with workers’ compensation insurance per Georgia Law. However, this rule is not simple either and has its exceptions. We will explain them below.
How to differentiate a worker or employee from a contractor or independent worker?
Understanding this difference will be essential to determine the employer’s obligation to purchase workers’ compensation insurance. Independent workers will not need the insurance, nor will they count as employees for purposes of complying with the rule of the three employees that will add and make workers’ compensation insurance mandatory in Georgia.
A contractor, or independent worker, is someone who does not regularly or permanently attend the place where they work, meaning that they are a temporary worker that follows and creates their own schedule. Nor do they follow specific instructions or regular orders. This person does his work and delivers the assignment or project. They don’t receive a fixed salary, or warnings, or direct orders. There should not be a labor, boss, and employee relationship, but rather a relationship where a service is provided, and the contractor is a supplier.
In Georgia, it is not mandatory to cover independent workers with workers’ compensation insurance, so the vast majority of businesses will omit this benefit for all independent contractors and will not cover them with compensation insurance.
However, analyzing each case, we will find that many employees have been wrongly classified by categorizing them as contractors or independent workers, which will have consequences for their employers if they suffer an accident. If it is proven that they should have been covered with Workers’ Comp insurance, employers will have to bear all costs.
You might want a lawyer to fight your case and make the employer pay. According to Georgia Law, all employees must be covered so that in the event of an accident at work, they can be compensated and can receive the necessary medical treatment until they recover from the accident suffered at work.
In summary, the characteristics that will allow us to differentiate a worker from a contractor or independent worker are:
- Place of work: the independent contractor may provide their service at the residence or business, but it should not be their principal office or usual place of work.
- NIF: the contractor or independent worker must have their own Tax Identification Number (NIF).
- The independent worker can receive general instructions to carry out a job. However, they must retain the discretion and independence to perform their work, and this must be reflected both in reality and in the specifications of their contract.
- The independent contractor must be the one who assumes the risk of the work performed. It will also be a determining element in defining who is an employee and a self-employed worker. If the employer bears the risk, we could consider that the relationship is employment.
- The payment agreement: this must be associated with the fulfillment of a specific task or job and not with a fixed monthly salary or per hour payment that extends over months or years, as occurs in employment relationships.
These are just a few factors that could reflect that a person is actually an employee and must have workers’ compensation insurance.
Remember that each case is different, and you will need an Atlanta workers’ comp lawyer that specializes in this field
If you believe that you are an employee or became an employee over time and suffered an accident, it will likely be more complex to obtain compensation when you do not have insurance. But with a lawyer specializing in workers’ compensation, you will be more likely to receive it.
If you are an independent worker and suffer an accident while doing your job, it will be necessary to review whether or not you have a workers’ comp case. As appropriate, confirm whether or not you have an employment relationship and determine the possibility of filing a claim or lawsuit against your employer.
If you are an employee that suffers an accident in Georgia, and your employer did not have their legally mandatory workers’ compensation insurance, you also have a case and will be able to file your claim for any injuries incurred while working. Never dismiss your case without seeking the legal advice of a specialized workers’ compensation firm in Atlanta.
How much does an Atlanta Workers' Compensation lawyer cost?
The cost of a lawyer for your workers’ compensation claim will always depend on your case. Keep in mind that these accident cases are charged based on contingency fees. This means you get a free case evaluation, and we don’t charge anything unless we win your case. By law, attorneys can’t get more than 25% of the employee’s worker’s comp award. This means that the consultations are free, and the case is at no cost to you unless the case is won. If the case is won, the lawyer will not be able to collect more than 25% of the recovered amount.
If you have more questions or think you may have a case, give us a call for a free evaluation. Our team can help you receive the compensation you deserve for your injury, while you get your life back.