Georgia is a leading manufacturing state in the U.S. and is home to thousands of families who depend on these factory and industrial jobs to support their families. Workers at these plants suffer high rates of on-the-job injuries that can range from minor to catastrophic in nature. If you are a factory, mill, plant, or warehouse worker who sustained an injury while on the job, you have the right to receive compensation for the financial damages you are suffering as a result. At The Law Offices of Darwin F. Johnson, our team of industrial and factory work injuries lawyers have extensive experience and success pursuing workers’ compensation claims and personal injury lawsuits on behalf of our clients throughout the Atlanta area, including Gwinnett County.
What are the Most Common Reasons Industrial Accidents Happen in Atlanta?
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that in 2019 alone, there were over 78,000 nonfatal workplace injuries and related illnesses reported in the state private industry sector. This number translates into an incidence rate of 2.5 cases per 100 workers suffering potentially life-changing injuries during their workday.
Some of the primary causes behind such tragic occurrences in a Georgia factory or industrial work site could be one or more of the following:
Machinery Malfunctions and Defects
Despite important safety features like lock-outs being installed on machinery found in the countless factories and plants in Fulton County, sometimes they fail and result in a tragic accident to the operator. These incidents could be due to a lack of proper maintenance by your employer or the equipment having a design flaw the manufacturer failed to correct.
Slips, Trips, and Falls
Industrial workplaces like a distribution warehouse or chemical plant rarely have a straightforward layout free of obstacles. From catwalks to assembly lines, these areas can pose trip, slip, and fall hazards to factory workers navigating them. Even spilled water from a teammate’s water bottle can prove hazardous on the production floor and lead to serious head and back injuries when falling against unforgiving cement surfaces.
Factory areas with poor or burnt-out lighting conditions can lead to all kinds of injury-causing accidents, including slip, trip, and falls. Catastrophic forklift accidents can also happen because of inadequate lighting in work zones like loading docks.
It’s no surprise that factory work is physically demanding on employees, especially during peak seasons like the holiday. While the overtime money is good, often workers are stuck working 12-hour shifts to meet shipping demands. These heavy schedule demands lead to worker exhaustion and lack of focus while performing their duties.
Factory and Plant Fires
From electrical wiring failures to flammable gas leaks, fires break out in DeKalb County and surrounding Atlanta area factories all the time. Companies that fail to keep their properties up to code or perform regular maintenance on machinery may experience incidents that result in devastating injuries to their employees.
Regardless of how you got injured at work, our workers’ compensation attorneys at The Law Offices of Darwin F. Johnson have an in-depth understanding of how the law applies to your case and can help you get the compensation you deserve.
What Kind of Injuries Can Occur in an Atlanta Industrial Plant and Factories?
With few exceptions under Georgia law, employers must carry workers’ compensation insurance should employees get hurt while performing their job duties. In a factory environment, this coverage is critical because of the elevated risk of sustaining severe work-related injuries.
Those who get injured while working have the right to pursue indemnity benefits that cover the economic losses related to their workplace injury, including recovering lost wages and having associated medical costs reimbursed.
The type of covered injuries you sustained can range from minor bumps and bruises to a lifetime of disability. Some of the more commonly reported industrial workplace injuries include:
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
- Injured spinal cord
- Cuts and scrapes
- Internal bleeding
- Severe burns
- Lung damage
- Lacerations and contusions
- Broken and fractured bones
- Amputated limbs and fingers
- Hearing loss
For those who have lost a family member or loved one to any of these injuries, it is important to note that workers’ compensation also provides a death benefit in Georgia. This tragic circumstance makes working with an experienced Cobb County industrial and factory work injuries lawyers invaluable to your case when trying to navigate the complex rules and laws governing your claim.
Can I Receive Compensation for a Workplace Injury if I Am At-Fault?
In Georgia, it doesn’t usually matter who is at-fault for a workplace injury. The workers’ compensation system works on a no-fault basis, though there are a few exceptions that could impact your ability to pursue a case. The Georgia Workers’ Compensation Act prohibits injured workers from receiving indemnity benefits if they were intoxicated or using controlled substances like marijuana which could have impaired their abilities.
Despite this restriction, having a positive drug test result does not mean you have lost your opportunity to recover your damages. State law has strict rules governing when and how testing takes place after a factory accident. Working with an attorney can also help show that you weren’t affected by these substances when you sustained your injuries.
What Deadlines Are There When Filing a workers’ Compensation Claim in Atlanta?
It’s a common mistake that many injured workers make when hurt on the job- they fail to file their claim right away. There are a couple of reasons why this damages your injury claim, the first of which being you may miss the mandated 30-day deadline to give your employer notice that an accident occurred and you got hurt.
Another reason that filing later than sooner is unwise is that you eventually have to submit a claim directly to the Georgia Board of Workers’ Compensation using form WC-14, which this body can provide to you.
Whether you are pursuing a workers’ compensation claim or you have to sue a third-party who is liable for your workplace injury, both of these procedures have deadlines to meet, as well.
Workers’ Compensation Claim Filing Deadline
Under Georgia law, factory employees injured while at work have one year from the accident date to file a claim for indemnity benefits under state workers’ compensation laws.
Deadline for Personal Injury Claim Filings
If you are a plant worker whose injury was partially caused by faulty machinery or tools used in the course of your work, you may be able to bring a third-party claim against the manufacturer.
What Kind of Damages Can I Receive After Suffering a Factory Work Injury in Fulton County?
Depending on the type of injury you sustained and the amount and severity of your damages, you may qualify for indemnity benefits through your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance or by way of a personal injury suit, or both. To better understand the different benefits that each compensation type uses, the below overview explains the compensation each method provides.
Workers’ Compensation Damages
If you miss working for seven days or more because of your work-related injuries, you should be able to recover workers’ compensation benefits to make up part of this lost income. In situations where you are off work for more than three weeks, you will also receive payment for the first week you missed. Catastrophic injuries that leave you with some form of a temporary or permanent disability could provide longer-lasting payments, depending on your case circumstances.
Any income benefits you do qualify to receive will only be equal to two-thirds of your normal weekly wages until you can return to work. This benefit has a maximum time limit of 400 weeks for most claims. In some cases, you may have less coverage time, depending on the nature of your injury and the disability it has caused you.
In addition to wage compensation, workers’ comp insurance can also provide medical benefits that will reimburse you for treatment costs related to your injuries. This compensation payment of surgeries, rehabilitative care, medication, medical devices, and more.
Fatal industrial workplace accidents often leave surviving spouses or children emotionally and financially devastated. Georgia workers’ compensation laws also provide death benefits to cover funeral expenses and lost wages the surviving family had relied upon for a limited time.
Damages Available in Personal Injury Cases
Unlike workers’ compensation claims, personal injury suits can handle economic and non-economic damages like pain and suffering. While this coverage has stringent caps and eligibility guidelines, personal injury claims require you to prove that a third party to your case contributed to your injuries. Remember, Georgia law does not allow you to sue your employer after getting hurt on the job.
The type of damages you might be able to recover due to another liable party’s negligence includes:
- Lost wages
- Mental anguish
- Pain and suffering
- Medical bills
- Rehabilitative care costs
- Medication expenses
- Diminished earning capacity
- Loss of consortium
It’s important to note that if you are already receiving compensation for lost wages or medical bills, your employer’s insurer may consider subrogating your case if you sue a third-party. The reason for this is so they can recover the money they have paid to you for your injuries. Any aspect of your injury that another party caused and you already received workers’ compensation could be subject to this action.
Do I Need a Lawyer for My Workers’ Compensation Claim in Gwinnett County?
Even though Georgia workers’ compensation laws are a critical aspect in protecting factory workers who sustain on-the-job injuries, the insurance companies and your employer probably don’t have the same priorities. Accidents cost money and make insurance premiums go up. This is the reality of operating a business in Georgia, but that doesn’t stop insurers from minimizing injury claims in any way possible, including:
Denial of Valid Claims
It’s not uncommon for an insurance adjuster to flat-out deny a perfectly valid claim. Simple mistakes on your paperwork that would only require a two-minute phone call to correct and claiming your injury is actually a pre-existing condition are common forms of denial that can cause frustrating delays and runarounds. This purposeful frustration of your case is one way in which they try to make you give up on receiving the compensation you rightly deserve.
Intentional Claim Delays
Insurance companies and employers alike are infamous for intentionally delaying compensation claims hoping that you will either give up or be desperate for any settlement offer they throw at you. They know you are under extreme financial and medical pressure after getting hurt at work and use this stress to their advantage.
Refuse to Acknowledge the Seriousness of Your Injuries
Because insurance companies are all about making money and minimizing payouts on claims, they rarely have your best interests in mind when making a settlement offer. This is why having an experienced workers’ compensation attorney with personal injury practice is crucial to your case. Having advocates like the lawyers of The Law Offices of Darwin F. Johnson by your side will ensure that any settlement offer you are given truly addresses the scope of the harm you endured.
Can Your Factory Work Injuries Lawyers Help My Case?
If you or a family member sustained injuries working in one of the countless factories and manufacturing plants in Fulton, Cobb, Gwinnett, DeKalb counties, and the surrounding Atlanta area, know that you don’t have to face this challenge alone. The Law Offices of Darwin F. Johnson appreciates how hard you have worked to provide for your family by putting in the time and dedication necessary to be successful at your job. When you get injured, your whole life can quickly begin to tailspin from the pressure of medical care costs and everyday financial obligations.
Trust our over thirty years of combined experience and proven success in securing over $250 million in settlements and litigated case awards. We know how workers’ compensation and personal injury law works and can help you get the fair and just compensation you deserve. Call us today at (404) 521-2667 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case right away.