Articles Posted in Georgia Workers’ Compensation

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Injured workers who seek remedy through the appellate process often find themselves at odds with “independent medical examiners,” explains a recent report by NBCdoctor5

Although the report focuses mainly on cases from the Bay Area of California, this issue is applicable nationally, including here in Georgia. As our Atlanta workers’ compensation attorneys often need to explain, “independent” medical examiners aren’t exactly “independent.” These health care professionals are often on contract with the employer (or the insurance company) and have a vested interest in keeping the employer/insurer happy in order to retain these lucrative contracts. Claimants are sometimes required to undergo an independent medical exam as part of their case.

In the NBC analysis, reporters noted that updated procedures in California require injured workers denied benefits to have their case reviewed by a state-contracted, for-profit company. These “Independent Medical Reviews” involve payment to anonymous doctors who never actually examine the patient one-on-one and who determine eligibility based on specific standard guidelines. The news report indicated that between 2013 and 2015, injured workers contested some 600,000 denials of medical treatment following a work-related injury. Of those, 90 percent of denials were upheld following an appeal to the independent medical review.  Continue reading →

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Survivors of those who are killed on-the-job may be entitled to workers’ compensation death benefits. Most of the time, these benefits will preclude any further claim against an employer under the workers’ compensation exclusivity provision. That is, workers’ compensation is the only remedy one can have against an employer for a work-related accident or illness. sad1

In the recent case of Velecela v. All Habitat Servs., plaintiff argued before the Connecticut Supreme Court that she should be allowed to pursue damages against her husband’s former employer for bystander emotional distress after finding her husband deceased under a vehicle one day when she came to bring him lunch at work. Employer argued that because she had already collected workers’ compensation death benefits, her claim was precluded.

Ultimately, the state high court sided with employer, finding that because her claim for emotional distress was a derivative claim of the worker’s injury, her claim was barred by workers’ compensation exclusivity provisions.  Continue reading →

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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 →

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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 →

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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 →

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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 →

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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 →

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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 →

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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 →