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Is everyone covered by workers' compensation?

We've dedicated many previous posts to discussing Georgia workers' right to workers' compensation benefits. Workers' compensation is a type of insurance designed to support workers and their families in the event of on-the-job accidents or negligence that incapacitate a worker.

While workers' comp insurance extends to the vast majority of workers, not all categories of workers are covered. In today's post, we examine the main exclusions to workers' comp:

No coverage

The following workers usually do not receive workers' compensation insurance:

  • Business owners: If you're a business owner, you're excluded from workers' comp. However, in Georgia, a sole proprietor or business partner may opt in to receive such coverage.
  • Independent contractors: If you're an independent contractor, then by definition you are not an employee--and you are exempt from coverage. It's worth noting that if you are a contractor who subcontracts any part of your work to others, you could be responsible for their coverage.  There is an important exception here.  Sometimes employer's pay employees as if they are independent contractors.  If the employer controls all aspects of the worker's schedule  (i.e. the time, manner and method of work) then the employer may still be responsible for work related injuries.  
  • Volunteers: If you volunteer for an organization and are not paid for your work, you are not required to be covered by workers' comp. However, some charitable organizations choose to provide coverage for their volunteers. In addition, volunteer firefighters, police officers and any other volunteer emergency responders are always covered.

Other coverage

Certain types of employees are covered through separate systems--outside of the workers' comp program:

  • Federal employees: The Federal Employee's Compensation Act (FECA) covers such employees for injuries or diseases suffered on the job.
  • Railroad employees: The Federal Employers' Liability Act (also known as the Railroad Workers Act) covers medical care, pain and suffering damages and lost wages for such employees.
  • Longshoremen: The Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act covers occupational disease and injury compensation for these employees.

If you have questions about your workers' compensation eligibility--or feel that your worker status has been misclassified--it's worth consulting with an attorney about your case.

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