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What is the Difference Between Workers Comp and Employers Liability?

By Butler Prather LLP on February 12, 2019

Navigating a Georgia workers’ compensation claim takes knowledge of how the system works. Workers’ compensation exists to give injured employees an outlet for financial recovery without having to prove negligence. It does not matter whether an employer was negligent or at-fault for the employee’s injuries; the employee can recover compensation regardless, thanks to Georgia’s workers’ comp system. Qualifying for workers’ compensation does not necessarily mean the employer is liable.

How Does Workers’ Compensation Work?

Workers’ compensation is a no-fault system. It takes the burden of proving someone else’s negligence off the injured worker’s shoulders. Workers’ comp is an insurance system that grants financial recovery to qualified injured employees to pay for their related medical bills and two-thirds lost wages. The worker does not have to go to court or prove anyone else caused the injuries. The worker can even qualify if he or she caused the accident in question.

The employer’s workers’ comp insurance company will pay the injured employee for temporary or permanent injuries and disabilities without requiring proof of negligence. Thus, the employer escapes liability while the employee still receives compensation for damages. In exchange for the right to compensation without proving negligence, however, the injured worker forfeits his or her right to file a lawsuit against the employer.

Employer Liability for Workplace Accidents in Atlanta

Employer liability refers to the employer’s legal responsibility for causing an employee’s injuries or illness. Liability means the employer negligently or recklessly caused the damages in question, and therefore owes the injured employee financial compensation. If an employer’s actions or omissions breached its duty of care to the employee, the employer could be liable for damages. During a typical workers’ comp claim, however, the question of employer liability does not arise. The question of liability in the case can be resolved with the assistance of an experienced Atlanta workers’ compensation attorney.

The key difference between a workers’ compensation claim and a worker injury lawsuit is the need to prove liability. An employee in Georgia does not have to prove liability to obtain workers’ compensation, but he or she must prove liability to obtain compensation through a personal injury lawsuit. Proving liability takes four main elements. The first element is that the employer owed the injured worker a duty of care. All employers in Georgia owe employees the right to a reasonably safe workplace.

The second element is a breach of duty of care. The employer must have breached a duty of care to an employee in some way, such as failing to provide safety training. The third element is causation. The employer’s breach of duty must have directly caused the injuries or damages in question. The fourth element is real damages. The employee must have suffered personal injuries, property damage, lost wages, or other damages because of the employer’s negligence. Again, an employee will only need to prove these four elements if he or she has decided to file a claim against the employer outside of the workers’ comp system.

Can an Employee Have Both Workers’ Comp and Employer Liability?

No, an injured employee in Georgia cannot receive payments through both workers’ compensation insurance and a personal injury lawsuit against a liable employer. The employee must review both options and choose the one that is most suitable – often with help from a lawyer. A personal injury claim could result in greater compensation and hold the at-fault employer accountable for negligence. However, it can take longer and cost more money for the employee to reach a resolution.

If a third party besides the employer caused the damages, the employee may be able to qualify for compensation through workers’ comp and the civil justice system. It is possible to recover benefits through workers’ compensation and through a personal injury lawsuit against someone other than the employer, such as a coworker or product manufacturer. Discuss your case with an Atlanta personal injury lawyer to determine the best course of action for you.

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