Published on:

Stephen Halton Jr. was on his way to save a life, while working toward a better life for his family. A medical worker at a large hospital in Northeast Ohio, Halton was on-call for the early-morning shift. He got word around midnight: Be here by 6 a.m. A patient needs a liver transplant. We need your help. hospitalhall

The hospital technician had been working the overtime so he could help afford a better education for his two children. To make sure he could make it to work on time, he got to the inner-city bus stop by 4 a.m. That’s where, police say, he was fatally shot by a third party.

Now, his family is fighting for the workers’ compensation benefits they insist he is owed. The hospital says it isn’t responsible for a random act of violence that occurred while Halton was on his way to work. But his family argues he would not have been at that bus stop had he not specifically been called in for a job assignment. The hospital argues his on-call shift didn’t start until 6 a.m. His family counters that because his on-call contract clearly states he was to be paid for the time he spent returning to the hospital that he was acting in the course and scope of employment 1.5 hours before he actually started working.  Continue reading →

Published on:

The new workplace injury anti-retaliation rules were supposed to be in place this month. However, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced it will delay enforcement of some portions of it until November. workeronstaging

News of the delay comes as corporations from across the country raised a host of questions – and voiced considerable opposition – regarding the measure.

Although the new rule is largely favorable to injured workers, it has not been received well by employers. Now, those companies will have more time to make sure they are in compliance. Continue reading →

Published on:

The goal for most injured employees collecting workers’ compensation is to eventually return to work. However, doing so can have consequences for your benefits. That’s why it’s important to consult with your lawyer before returning to work. workboots

In addition to the coverage of medical bills, workers’ compensation benefits in Georgia are supposed to cover a portion of wage losses if a person is unable to work for a time. Even if that person returns to work, they may still collect some of those benefits – but only if they are earning less than they did before as a result of their disability.

A worker who earns more than they did before while still collecting benefits may find themselves running afoul of the system. Take for example the recent case of State ex rel. Perez v. Indus. Comm’n, a case recently weighed by the Ohio Supreme Court.  Continue reading →

Published on:

Most people associate warm summer temperatures with pleasant beach vacations and cookouts. For Georgia workers, that outdoor heat can be dangerous. landscaper

Extreme heat must be taken seriously by both employers and employees.

What qualifies as “extreme heat” may vary by region, but it usually means temperatures that are about 10 degrees above normal, according to The Weather Channel. However, any temperature that is over 90 degrees is generally considered “extreme,” particularly when it is also accompanied by high levels of humidity.  Continue reading →

Published on:

The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) has fined a Georgia company for failing to protect workers on at least seven different occasions from fall hazards. Workers were reportedly exposed to hazards of up to 13 feet on an Alabama project site. scaffolding2

The company, a masonry firm, was fined $130,000. OSHA inspectors reportedly observed employees toiling on second-story scaffolding with no personal fall arrest system or guardrails. There was also allegedly no safe access or egress from the scaffolding via a sturdy ladder.

OSHA reportedly had investigators who came out to inspect this particular project on six different occasions over the course of five years and it has cited the company for fall hazards on each and every one of those visits.  Continue reading →

Published on:

Georgia used to be one of 16 states that had enacted some sort of exemption to workers’ compensation coverage for farm or agricultural laborers. Now, it’s one of just 15 states, after the New Mexico Supreme Court handed down a ruling striking workers’ compensation exemptions for farms and ranches as unconstitutional. farming

The case is Rodriguez v. Brand West Dairy, and the decision casts uncertainty as to the future of the law in Georgia and other states. To be clear: This decision won’t immediately impact Georgia workers. Because each state is in charge of handling its own workers’ compensation system, a conflict between states on an issue like this isn’t likely to be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. Nonetheless, a ruling of this nature by a sister court is one that could open the door for a similar challenge here in Georgia.

According to court records, the New Mexico Workers’ Compensation Act, since its inception in 1917 through its most recent update in 2015, has never required employers to provide workers’ compensation to farm and ranch laborers. Three farm and ranch laborer workers appealed denial of their workers’ compensation injury claims on grounds state statute is illegal under the state’s equal protection clause. The statute specifies that in order to be legal, any discriminatory classifications in economic or social legislation have to be founded on some real difference of situation or condition that reasonably justifies a different rule for the class that suffers the discrimination.  Continue reading →

Published on:

Georgia work injuries were reported following an explosion at a Newnan aluminum company. So powerful was the blast, witnesses say, it rocked buildings up to a mile away in this suburb some 35 miles south of Atlanta. alumninum

Five workers were hospitalized, two at the Atlanta Medical Center and three at a local hospital, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. One of those workers remained in critical condition days after the accident.

The president of Bonnell Aluminum issued a statement extending his wishes for the workers’ speedy recoveries. The plant had to be evacuated and closed while the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) responded alongside local officials and company administrators to ascertain the cause of the blast.  Continue reading →

Published on:

Opioid prescriptions in Georgia workers’ compensation cases are down nearly 20 percent, according to a study released recently by the Workers’ Compensation Research Institutepills9

Study authors credit the reduction with changes made at the federal, state and organizational levels in recent years intended to combat opioid overuse, abuse and overdose among injured workers.

It’s been a tough balancing act because those injured in Atlanta work accidents are genuinely grappling with pain. But the question has been raised whether the commonly-prescribed opioids were the best way to deal with that in the vast majority of cases. In fact, workers prescribed opioids on the whole take longer to return to work. Further, because of the noted danger of these medications, workers who suffered an overdose or developed addictions often sought coverage for these secondary claims as well.  Continue reading →

Published on:

In Georgia workers’ compensation cases, a “fictional new injury” occurs when an employee is injured on-the-job, but then continues to perform his or her work duties until he or she has to stop because the condition gradually worsens and, at least partially because he or she continued working after the injury.pocketwatch

This differs from what we understand to mean a “change in condition.” A fictional new injury is one in which duties performed at work after the initial injury actually served to make the injury worse.

This was the claim in Rosenburg Forest Products v. Barnes, recently before the Georgia Supreme Court. Continue reading →

Published on:

The Georgia Supreme Court recently held that a bus driver’s second job during the summer should be counted as part of her “average weekly wage” in ascertaining how much she should receive in workers’ compensation benefits for an injury suffered in a fall. schoolbus

In Fulton County Board of Education et al. v. Thomas, the bus driver’s employer never contested that she’d been hurt at work or that the injury was compensable. The issue was how much she should be paid.

In Georgia, the average weekly wage is defined in OCGA 34-9-260, and is properly calculated by looking at what the employee earned in the 13 weeks immediately prior to the injury – whether for the same or another employer – and then dividing that figure by 13. If the employee hasn’t worked the whole 13 weeks, benefits can be determined by looking at the wages of a similar employee in the same employment who worked substantially the whole of those 13 weeks. If neither of those methods is feasible, the full-time weekly wage can be used. Other provisions for more detailed calculations are contained in the statute as well. Continue reading →