In Georgia, the Workers’ Compensation Act is the exclusive remedy for an injury by accident arising out of and in the course of employment. The Workers’ Compensation Act requires that employers subject to the act either carry insurance to insure the payment of workers’ compensation benefits to injured workers or qualify as a self insurer.
Therefore, if an employee is injured at work, he can choose to file a Workers’ Compensation Claim or a Personal Injury Claim. The main difference between the two is that a personal injury claim requires fault, while a Workers’ Compensation claim does not. The employee must prove negligence. In other words, to have a successful Personal Injury Claim in Georgia, an employee must prove that the employer or fellow employee did something wrong that caused the employee’s injury. However, in a Workers’ Compensation Claim, no proof of fault is required.
This is an important distinction because not every injury is the result of negligence. Accidents do happen. Therefore, when they happen at work, the employer will pay for damages even if the accident was the employee’s own fault.
Another important difference is damages. In a Worker’s Compensation case, an employee will only get damages for lost wages, medical bills, impairment benefits, and rehabilitation costs. In a Personal Injury case, the employee can recover for his pain and suffering as well as any damages proximately caused by the accident. He can recover for lost earning capacity, pain and suffering, and future medical bills, among other things.
Again, in Georgia, the Workers’ Compensation Act is the exclusive remedy for an injury by accident arising out of and in the course of employment. However, if an employee has a valid Workers’ Compensation claim and the employer carries no insurance, the employee can sue the employer in tort and the employer cannot rely on the exclusive remedy in defending the suit.