The Georgia workers’ compensation law obligates injured workers to provide prompt notice of injury to their employers. Specifically the statute says that an employee with an on-the-job injury must report that injury to a supervisor within 30 days. Notice to a co-worker who is not a supervisor does not suffice as proper notice.
The Georgia legislature included this 30 day notice provision in the law so that employers could conduct an investigation of a claimed injury while the memories of witnesses was still fresh and other evidence still available. While there are some instances in which notice after 30 days can still be valid, whenever possible you should give notice to your supervisor within 30 days from the date of injury.
Why You Should Give Notice Following an On-the-Job Injury
While the notice provision of the law seems fairly straightforward, in reality, the requirement to give notice can get tricky. This is especially the case if you are not sure that your injury will be especially serious and you may be concerned about keeping your job if you report an on-the-job accident. In other cases, your supervisor may encourage you not to report your injury as a workers’ compensation injury, but instead, use your group health insurance to cover medical costs.
While I certainly understand the concerns of potential clients about their jobs, my experience over the past 20+ years has been that injured employers should not depend on their employers to protect the injured worker’s interests. For some employers even a minor injury may result in increased workers’ compensation insurance premiums, and therefore may lead to termination. In my view you will be taking a significant risk if you forego your workers’ compensation rights in the hope that your employer will “do the right thing.”
How to Give Notice
If your injury is significant and you recognize immediately that you will need medical treatment and that you will miss work, you should report your injury to your immediate supervisor as soon as practicable. Upon receipt of this notice, your employer, by law, is required to complete and submit to the Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation a form called a WC-1.
In the real world, most employers play by the rules. However, a few do not and therefore when we open a new case, we will file a State Board form called the WC-14 (or “Form 14”) that serves as the employee’s formal notice of injury.
If possible, I recommend that you contact me (or another workers’ compensation lawyer) for assistance when completing a Form 14 or in giving notice. Your notice of injury is important and you must be as accurate as possible when identifying the date, time, location and witnesses to your accident. A sloppy notice of accident can create major problems for your down the road.
Notice if Your are Not Sure that Your Injury will be Serious or if Your Employer is Giving You a Hard Time
As discussed above, you should give notice to your employer (and to the State Board) within 30 days of your on-the-job injury. What happens, however, if your injury does not seem serious or if your employer strongly “suggests” that you not file a claim?
In this type of situation, I strongly urge you to speak to legal counsel about your options. You can call me at 770-341-0801 or email me and we can discuss what you might want to do. Ultimately you will have to make the decision about whether or not you want to open a workers’ compensation case. You should not make that decision without discussing your options with an unbiased lawyer or under pressure from a pushy employer.
There may be circumstances where it does not make sense to pursue a claim, but your case may be one where the likelihood of an unpleasant result will outweigh the temporary hardship of a job loss or angry supervisor.
If you have been injured on the job and you want to discuss your options with me, please feel free to call me at 770-351-0801 or email me using the form on the right side of this page.