Articles Posted in Georgia Workers’ Compensation

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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 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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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 →