Articles Posted in Georgia Workers’ Compensation

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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 →

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In order to obtain workers’ compensation benefits in Georgia, the employee must have fallen ill or gotten injured while acting in the course and scope of employment. There are also allowances when some aspect of work exacerbated an existing condition. foggymorning

Usually, if an employee who is injured in an auto accident commuting to or from work isn’t eligible for benefits (this is called the “coming-and-going rule), but there are exceptions to this too.

The recent case of Kelly v. Blue Ribbon Linen Supply, recently considered by the Idaho Supreme Court, is an interesting one that involves all these elements. Justices were asked to consider whether a commute from an independent medical exam, requested by the employer as part of an earlier work injury claim, may be considered an action that is in the course and scope of employment. Continue reading →

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Settlement of a workers’ compensation claim should only be entered into by workers who have had time to consult with an experienced attorney. The reason is settlement agreements are binding contracts, and signing off on one may prohibit any future claim for injuries, even if the injury or illness worsens. cooking

Careful review of these documents is imperative so that the affected worker isn’t cheated out of future benefits to which he or she may otherwise be rightfully entitled.

A settlement may result in:

  • No more weekly benefits.
  • Continued medical payments.
  • A lump sum damage award.

All agreements must be approved by the state workers’ compensation board. Continue reading →

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In Georgia, as in most other states, almost all employers are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance, which provides coverage to employees in the event of a work-related injury. The guideline here is that all companies with three or more employees must capaintingthesetrry this coverage.

There are state-issued penalties for companies that fail to comply with this order. However, these businesses sometimes aren’t identified until a work injury happens. So where does that leave the worker?

A couple of options may be available. The first is to petition the state board to issue an order mandating the company pay for medical expenses, lost wages, attorney’s fees and other civil assessments for violation of the law. The second is to consider filing a personal injury lawsuit against the employer. Although employers are typically protected from litigation via the exclusive remedy provision of workers’ compensation law, those who break the law by not carrying insurance don’t have that protection. The caveat is that worker has to be able to prove the company was negligent in causing the injury. Finally, there may be an option for third-party litigation if some other person or entity was liable. Continue reading →

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It’s not highly unusual that a 16-year-old boy would inflate his athletic ability or academic prowess at some point. However, those alleged statements by one teen in Idaho appear to have cost him a higher disability rating that could have led to a greater sum of workers’ compensation benefits. teenwork

That’s because the state hearing officer and the courts took into consideration his credibility when weighing his work injury case. He was hurt in 2004 when he slipped and fell on a patch of ice while taking the garbage outside of the fast food restaurant where he worked at the time.

More than 10 years later, in continuing to seek permanent partial disability benefits, plaintiff appealed a whole body impairment rating of 3 percent to the Idaho Supreme Court in Fairchild v. Kentucky Fried Chicken. The state high court took note of the fact that plaintiff “appeared prone to exaggeration” with his doctors, had inconsistent testimony and seemingly was untruthful regarding the reason he was fired from the chain after his injury. Continue reading →

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The surviving family of a deceased worker may still collect workers’ compensation death benefits, even though he tested positive for marijuana.marijuanabud1

An appellate court in Louisiana ruled the family was entitled to benefits after the warehouseman for the Atlanta-based Georgia-Pacific pulp and paper company was injured and killed while working the night shift. According to records of the case, the worker had been operating a truck lift, loading various materials onto trailers.

At some point past midnight, decedent suffered fatal injuries, though no one saw what happened. Based on evidence from the autopsy, it appears the worker sustained blunt force injuries to his head and chest. Investigators suspect decedent’s injuries may have been the result of being struck by the rear of one of the trailers he was loading. Continue reading →