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A Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) employee was critically injured in a recent work zone crash. It was the second incident in less than a week, with the other resulting in the death of a motorist and injury of another worker. roadconstruction

GDOT is urging caution by motorists, especially as road construction projects are now picking up across the state.

State DOT Commissioner Russell McCurry released a statement saying workers must be allowed to return home to their families at the end of each work day. He said while motorists must always be alert, attentive and cautious on the roads, nowhere is that more important than in a work zone.

“We must keep our employees safe,” McCurry said.  Continue reading →

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Workers’ compensation laws provide that employers who provide workers’ compensation insurance benefits to qualified employees are typically immune from personal injury litigation stemming from workplace injuries and occupational diseases. That’s why workers’ compensation is sometimes referred to as the “exclusive remedy” for workers. scaffoldingsilouette

But questions regarding who is an employer and who is required to provide workers’ compensation insurance and who is a “third party” for legal purposes can be complex, particularly on a construction site. That’s because there are so many different entities – from site owners to general contractors to subcontractors.

When workers are injured on-the-job at a construction site, they should seek guidance from an attorney to explore all possible options.  Continue reading →

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A Georgia work injury that occurred last year when a fire broke out at a manufacturing plant in Winterville has resulted in a citation from the Occupational Health & Safety Administration (OSHA), which asserts the Japanese-based manufacturer violated health and safety protocol. fire5

The agency has proposed penalties totaling $145,000 for one willful, 18 serious and one other-than-serious health and safety violations that reportedly resulted in a Georgia worker suffering burns on 80 percent of his body. Investigators say the 33-year-old maintenance worker was the victim of the indifference to safety displayed by his auto parts manufacturer employer in September 2015.

The severity of the worker’s injury has resulted in an intensive and long-term recovery process. He sustained third-degree burns on most of his upper body. The worker was reportedly operating a dust collector at the time of the incident.  Continue reading →

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In personal injury litigation, when a lawsuit is settled, that’s it. There is no going back to ask the same defendant for more money – even if your injuries are worse or lasted longer than you expected.gavel21

But it’s different with workers’ compensation claims, which can be re-opened when an employee disability has increased or recurred.

Often the first thing we need to explore is whether the case was settled via a stipulation and award or a compromise and release. If it was a stipulation and award, claims can often be reopened. However, with a compromise and release, employers are usually released from any future claims for the same incident. The only exception, usually, is if the settlement was somehow procured by fraud. Continue reading →

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In every job, there is a certain amount of stress involved. But what if your job-related stress impedes your ability to work?box1

In some cases, psychological injury stemming from job-related stress can be compensable under workers’ compensation statutes.

That’s what we saw recently the case of Hart v. Federal Express Corp., recently before the Connecticut Supreme Court.  Continue reading →

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Claims for permanent partial disability (PPD) benefits may survive the non-work-related death of a worker, according to a recent affirmation by the Idaho Supreme Court. funeral

Although this is an out-of-state case, other high courts – including the one in Georgia – may look to this ruling for guidance under similar circumstances.

Permanent partial disability benefits are one of the most common type of workers’ compensation claims, comprising half of all workers’ compensation claims nationwide. PPD is when some form of permanent impairment resulted from the work injury, leaving the worker unable to perform at his or her full capacity. It’s different from total disability, which is when the worker is unable to perform any work due to the on-the-job injury.  Continue reading →

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Many employers require workers to immediately report on-the-job injuries – no matter how small – as part of their company policy. Some take that provision too far and it borders on retaliation when workers do report the injury.sadsillouhette

But O.C.G.A. 34-9-81.1 does require that employees report the accident immediately – but no later than 30 days after the accident – to the employer, employer’s representative, foreman or immediate supervisor. The statute specifically states that failure to do so could result in the loss of benefits.

There may be some allowances for instances in which a worker didn’t immediately realize he or she was injured or did not reasonably know the cause of the injury. But in general, as soon as you know you have suffered a work injury, you must report it.  Continue reading →

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It is not unheard of in Georgia workers’ compensation cases for employers to retaliate against employees who file claims for injury benefits. It is, however, illegal.hardhat

Your Atlanta workers’ compensation attorney can provide you with insight on how best to protect yourself and how to preserve evidence in preparation for a possible future retaliation claim.

Georgia is an at-will state, which means in the absence of a written employment contract, a company can fire a worker at any time, so long as it isn’t for an illegal reason. One reason that would be illegal: As retaliation for filing a workers’ compensation claim. Continue reading →

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Efforts to further weaken protections for injured workers were thwarted recently in Oklahoma, where the state workers’ compensation commission and the Oklahoma Supreme Court in separate decisions declared the alternative compensation model unconstitutional.gavel1

This could signal a major turning point for a troubling trend that had been gaining steam in states across the country. Workers’ compensation is supposed to provide no-fault benefits to employees injured on-the-job, and in exchange, workers forfeit their right to sue. Most of these programs are state-run and provide medical coverage, rehabilitation services, reimbursement for lost wages and death benefits. It’s known as the “grand bargain.”

But in the last decade, these worker protections have been eroded bit by bit, state by state. One of the most significant changes in a number of states has been giving employers the right to “opt out” of the state-run workers’ compensation system, so long as they offer their own insurance plan. The catch for workers is that employers have enormous control over the doctors who review each case and which workers will receive benefits. Definitions of “disability” and “work injury” are also written by the insurer, resulting in fewer workers having access to benefits.  Continue reading →

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Employees who are injured on-the-job are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. These include a portion of lost wages, plus coverage of all reasonable and related medical bills.worker3

As a general rule, employees can’t collect damages for pain and suffering, loss of life enjoyment or loss of consortium, and they can’t sue their employer on top of receiving workers’ compensation benefits. However, they can pursue third-party litigation against others whose negligence caused or contributed to the severity of their injuries.

In third-party liability claims, workers are entitled to collect these other non-economic damages – and maybe even punitive damages, depending on the circumstances. Continue reading →