Articles Posted in Georgia Workers’ Compensation

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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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DeKalb County officials are investigating the death of a 36-year-old U.S. Postal worker who was killed when a large tree fell onto his truck as he was delivering mail. Authorities say the worker had been driving past a grove of tall pine trees when one suddenly uprooted and fell on top of the worker’s truck, causing immediate death.pinetree

A spokesman for the county, which owned the property where the pine tree had been rooted, called the incident an “unfortunate, tragic accident.” He attributed it to a number of factors all happening at once, including wind and a build-up of ice. Trees owned by the county are checked every six months, but those located in areas near playgrounds or other gathering spots are checked every month, he said.

Although it’s unclear whether this worker had a spouse or children, any dependents he did have would be entitled to worker’s compensation death benefits. As a federal employee, his benefits are handled a bit differently than those who work for private companies in Georgia.  Continue reading →

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A 2015 report by the National Safety Council, “Prescription Pain Medications: A Fatal Cure for Injured Workers,” details the fact that 25 percent of workers’ compensation prescription drug claim costs were for opioid painkillers. Although the percentage of workers using prescription drugs for treatment has increased in recent years, treatment outcomes haven’t improved.pills2

In fact, one study in Washington State revealed that a worker who receives more than a one-week supply of powerful drugs soon after an injury has double the risk of still being disabled a year later. Plus, pain medication of this nature can cause serious harm to workers, including addiction, overdose and even death.

There have been numerous court cases in which a worker died of an opioid-related drug overdose.

In the recent case of King v. CompPartners, out of California, the worker thankfully did not overdose. However, he did suffer numerous seizures when an anesthesiologist abruptly withdrew him from powerful medication after deciding it was no longer medically necessary. Continue reading →

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In Georgia workers’ compensation cases, proving one is totally and permanently disabled is not easy. Unless claimant has suffered a severe traumatic brain injury or a condition like quadriplegia or blindness, it will require substantial evidence from medical experts to prove the case. backinjury

As pointed out by a recent ProPublica article on, “The Demolition of Workers’ Compensation,” the state ended the promise of lifetime medical care for work injuries in 2013, capping it at eight years for all but the worst cases.

Per Georgia Code Section 34-9-263, guides to percentage of disability or body loss ratings follow the guide published by the American Medical Association. Only if a person suffers the loss of more than one major member (i.e., both arms, hands, legs, feet or any two or more of these members OR loss of vision in both eyes), there is a rebuttable presumption of permanent total disability, as defined in Georgia Code Section 34-9-261. That means the burden of proof shifts to the defendant in the workers’ compensation case to show why plaintiff shouldn’t receive benefits (instead of the other way around).  Continue reading →

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Workers’ compensation is the exclusive remedy for employees injured on-the-job. That rule is applicable only insofar as employers and workers’ compensation insurance companies are concerned. When a work injury is due in full or in part to the negligent actions of a third party, the worker may pursue a personal injury lawsuit against that party – in addition to collecting workers’ compensation benefits. brakelights

However, it is crucial for employees to understand that if they do pursue a third party action, their employer and/or insurance company may be entitled to something called “subrogration.” In this scenario, it would mean the entity that paid workers’ compensation benefits would have a right to reimbursement from the third-party litigation damage award. That hold that an employer has on the third-party damage award is called a “subrogration lien.” The statute under which this is permitted is O.C.G.A. 34-9-11.1.

This does not mean a worker will get nothing by pursuing third-party action. The reality is, personal injury lawsuits tend to glean higher damage awards than workers’ compensation, and they also reimburse for losses such as pain and suffering – which workers’ compensation does not. It is imperative that injured workers in this situation employ an experienced attorney because failure to do so could mean a loss of critical benefits. Continue reading →

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In many workers’ compensation claims, the primary issue is the fact the employee can no longer work. He or she needs coverage not only of medical bills, but of a portion of the wages lost and, in some cases, the loss of earning potential via permanent partial disability.upstairs

However, there are some cases in which a worker’s injuries are so severe, a spouse or other loved one has no choice but to forego their own employment to care for the injured person full-time. This is referred to as “attendant care,” and it is something for which spouses of injured workers can be compensated.

Compensation for attendant care in Georgia is often awarded in cases where a worker has suffered an injury to the spine or loses function in the arms or legs, such that the worker requires assistance to perform daily activities of life. Although sometimes nurse assistants are called to perform these duties, it’s often more cost efficient and better for everyone involved if a loved one is to be the one rendering care. Continue reading →

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In workers’ compensation case law, a “clincher agreement” is a compromised settlement between an injured worker, the employer and the employer’s insurer. mining

Clincher agreements indicate a final resolution of a case. Usually, this involves some lump sum cash settlement in exchange for release of all future liability against the employer and insurer. It will address payment of all outstanding medical bills, and may provide some stipulation for future medical bills related to the work injury.

Such an agreement can be beneficial for both parties, as it provides injured worker with necessary compensation and takes the guesswork out of future disputes. However, it’s imperative that these agreements be carefully drafted and reviewed. Failure to do so can result in signing away important rights and leaving you stuck paying for work-related medical bills with no option for further recourse. Continue reading →