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An injured worker’s duty to provide timely notice of the accident to the employer

An injured employee is required to provide the employer with notice of a work-related accident within 30 days. O.C.G.A. §34-9-80 provides, in part, “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 unless it can be shown that the employee had been prevented from doing so by reason of physical or mental incapacity, or by fraud or deceit, or that the employer, his agent, representative, or foreman, or the immediate superior of the injured employee had knowledge of the accident, or unless a reasonable excuse is made to the satisfaction of the board for not giving such notice and it is reasonably proved to the satisfaction of the board that the employer had not been prejudiced thereby.”

In other words, if the employee or his representative fails to provide notice of the injury to the employer within 30 days, the entire claim can be barred. (Citations omitted.) The notice must be given to a supervisor or other superior employee, and mere notice to a co-worker is not sufficient. (Citations omitted.) The employee does not, however, have to give notice to the employer with the intent of claiming compensation, nor does the notice have to show the injury arose out of and in the course of employment or even that it occurred on the job. (Citations omitted.) Essentially, the employee does not have to specify how the injury occurred, that it occurred at work or was otherwise work related. The employee is merely required to put the employer on notice of an injury sufficient to allow the employer the opportunity to investigate the injury, commonly known as “inquiry notice,” and that notice must be given within 30 days of the occurrence.

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