The History of Workers' Compensation Law In Georgia

The Georgia Legislature enacted the first Georgia Workers' Compensation laws in 1920.

Before that, the only way employees could obtain just compensation from their employers for work-related injuries was by filing a personal injury-style lawsuit. In court, the employers would typically argue that the employee was partially to blame for the accident — or that the worker had assumed the risk by taking a dangerous job.

In the majority of the cases, the employee lost, but a win typically put the employer out of business. Either way, workers were often left with no job, a disabling injury and a court order for damages from a defunct firm.

Recognizing these problems, several states starting enacting workers' compensation laws based on those enacted in European countries during the Industrial Revolution. In 1920, the Georgia Legislature passed the first comprehensive workers' compensation legislation to allow employees to recover for medical benefits, lost wages, permanent disability, and death benefits sustained as a result of injuries occurring on the job.

Much like today's system, both the employer and the employee essentially had to compromise in that workers' compensation is a 'no fault' system, meaning the employee can recover regardless of who is at fault in most cases; however, monetary caps were put in place on how much the employee could recover in order to protect Georgia employers.

Today, Title 34, Chapter 9 of the Official Code of Georgia is the Georgia Workers' Compensation Act. The Workers' Compensation Act has several defenses employers and insurance companies can use to avoid paying for the benefits the employee is entitled to when they are injured on the job. Additionally, there are hundreds of cases interpreting the Georgia Workers' Compensation Act and Board Rules created by the Georgia State Board of Workers' Compensation that only an experienced workers' compensation lawyer will be fully aware of.

Navigating the Georgia Workers' Compensation Act without the assistance of an experienced Georgia workers' compensation attorney can be risky. Workers' comp insurance adjusters sometimes avoid telling the employees all of their rights in an effort to prevent their company from losing money. Do not be deceived by the commercials you see about responsibility and doing what is right. The insurance industry is not your advocate or your friend.

In my years of practicing workers' compensation law, I have seen countless employees try to negotiate with insurance companies on their own and fail. I have seen others retain attorneys who only dabble in workers' compensation law, then lose out on reimbursement for necessary medical treatment or other valuable benefits to which they should have been entitled.

Think of it this way. Would you hire your family physician to perform brain surgery, or would you rather be given a referral to someone who spent all of their time performing surgery on the brain?

Properly handling a workers' compensation claim is no different in principle. It is a complicated area of the law, and retaining a lawyer who fully understands the system is critical. I encourage you to give us a call and see the difference for yourself.

Contact The Law Office of Bryan S. Hawkins For A Free Consultation

At The Law Office of Bryan S. Hawkins, we are happy to answer your questions and evaluate your claim in a free, no-obligation consultation. To set yours up, call us in Augusta at 706-305-1130 or fill out our online contact form and we will respond to you promptly.