Georgia Workers’ Compensation Blog, January 2016
Nathan E. Woody, CORALES & WOODY, LLC
NOTICE PURSUANT TO O.C.G.A. 34-9-80
Last month we covered a basic rule of thumb for employees in Georgia regarding prompt reporting of work injuries. Now we want to explore the related concept of “notice”. Notice is a legal term and requires some explanation. Thankfully, since the notice requirement in Georgia carries its own code section, we have an easy place to start.
O.C.G.A. 34-9-80 reads in pertinent part:
“Every injured employee or his representative shall, immediately on the occurrence of any accident or as soon thereafter as practicable, give or cause to be given to the employer, his agent, representative, or foreman, or the immediate superior of the injured employee a notice of the accident.…No compensation will be payable unless such notice, either oral or written, is given within 30 days after the occurrence of an accident or within 30 days after death resulting from an accident…”
BASIC NEW IDEA: YOU HAVE 30 DAYS
Your Employer does not have to provide any medical or disability benefits until they receive notice of your accident at work. Moreover, and perhaps of greater concern, there is a 30-day limit on providing notice, and it is the Employee that carries the burden of ensuring that notice is provided. Consequently, if notice is not provided within 30 days, the entire claim could be barred.
Thankfully, workers’ comp claims in Georgia do not frequently fail for lack of notice. This is because there are exceptions to the general 30-day rule. Here are two of the major exceptions:
THE BIGGEST EXCEPTION: YOUR EMPLOYER ALREADY KNEW ABOUT THE ACCIDENT
This exception is nice because it makes common sense. If, for example, your employer saw you fall from a scaffold, go unconscious and then watched as you were taken away to the hospital by ambulance, the 30-day notice requirement does not apply. In other words, your claim will not be invalidated because you did not report in person the accident within 30 days, because the Employer already had notice.
PREVENTED BY PHYSICAL OR MENTAL CAPACITY
This is another straightforward exception. Changing the scenario above, if after falling from a scaffold, your Employer did not see you fall, or find out about it otherwise, but you were subsequently in the hospital, in a coma, for greater than 30 days, you are not penalized for failing to report. If a physical or mental incapacity prevents you from meeting the 30-day notice requirement, the rule is relaxed.
THE TAKE AWAY
Report your accident immediately if you can, and be sure your Employer has notice within 30 days. Of course, if you have more questions about your workers’ comp claim, please call Corales & Woody.