The question of whether a given employer is required to have Georgia workers' compensation insurance on its employees can vary from state to state. The general rule is that individuals, corporations, or other entities that employ three or more people are required to carry coverage.
Of course, not every employer that is required to have coverage complies with the law. When a worker is hurt on the job, the employer then must pay the employee's medical expenses and other workers' compensation benefits out-of-pocket.
Facts of the Case
In a matter recently considered by the Georgia State Board of Workers' Compensation, a woman injured her left knee while working as a child care administrator in January 2015. She did not miss any time off from work, but she did incur medical expenses as a result of her injury. The employer did not have workers' compensation insurance. In April 2016, the Board entered an order assessing the worker's attorney fees against the employer on the ground of unreasonable delay and refusal to provide medical care.
The employer did not pay the April 2016 award until August 2016. Meanwhile, the employee incurred additional medical expenses for treatment of her knee in May and July 2016; the employer did not pay these bills until October 2016. The employee again applied to the Board, asking for additional attorney fees. The employer defended itself on the grounds that "they did not have the money to satisfy the [first award of attorney fees] debt until August," and "the amounts due on the medical bills were confusing."
Decision of the Board
The Board, acting through an administrative law judge, found that the dates on which the employer paid the previous attorney fees award and the outstanding medical bills were unreasonable. Accordingly, the Board again assessed attorney fees and litigation expenses. In so holding, the Board noted that the employee's attorney had reminded the employer of the past-due award at least four times and that the employer had only paid the award after the employee's attorney had requested a hearing before the board on the issue of nonpayment.
With regard to the medical expenses, the Board found that the medical care at issue had been rendered by the employee's authorized treating physician and that the amount in controversy was approximately $300, with the "confusion" apparently owing to a previous $20 credit on the patient's account. In the Board's opinion, the employer had no reasonable ground for its late payment of the medical expenses, which, again, were only paid after considerable effort by the employee's attorney.
Hopefully, the employer "got the message" after its second time before the Board: those who refuse to comply with the workers' compensation laws will be held accountable...no matter how many hearings and orders it takes.
Seek Compensation Following an Atlanta Work Injury
At the Law Offices of T. Andrew Miller, LLC, we assist clients who have been hurt on the job in and around Atlanta. To schedule a consultation, call us at 678-894-4758. There is no charge for the appointment, and attorney fees are not collected until your case is over. In some situations, it may even be possible to seek payment of legal fees from your employer, so there is no reason to put off speaking to an experienced Atlanta workers' compensation lawyer about your injury or accident at work.