Articles Posted in Georgia Workers’ Compensation

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The question of whether a worker is an independent contractor or an employee is a critical one in many Atlanta workers’ compensation cases. truckdriver1

While employees are entitled to the protection of workers’ compensation benefits in case of a job-related injury, independent contractors are not. Unfortunately, many unscrupulous employers wrongly classify employees as independent contractors in order to avoid paying for the insurance. This can leave injured employees in an extremely tough spot, and it could result in severe fines and penalties for the employer. Still, some continue to do it because they are hoping to get away with it.

In the case of Max Trucking LLC v. Liberty Mut. Ins. Corp., a dispute arose between an employer and an insurance company regarding the classification of nearly two dozen truck drivers based in Michigan. The insurance company insisted the workers were employees and increased the company’s premium. Continue reading →

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When a work-related injury prevents you from being able to work, you may be qualified for workers’ compensation. wheelchair4

However, deciding how much you receive and for how long is a complex process. There are many different types of “disability” under Georgia workers’ compensation law. Those include:

  • Temporary Total Disability
  • Temporary Partial Disability
  • Permanent Partial Disability
  • Permanent Total Disability
  • Death Benefits

Each has a different proof burden that must be met, though there is often discretion granted to doctors, the state commission and the courts in deciding which category best describes your circumstances. Continue reading →

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Permanent partial disability in workers’ compensation cases are among the most common type of work injury claims. They are essentially a lump sum or structured settlement award for an on-the-job injury resulting in a disability that is partial, but permanent.concretetruck1

This figure can include money for medial and therapy bills, medications, costs for transportation to-and-from physician appointments and partial wage loss reimbursement. It is a determination – made by doctors and the industrial commission/courts – after an injured worker has attained “maximum medical improvement.” This is the point at which medical consensus is the worker is medically stable and isn’t going to improve with further treatment. It doesn’t mean treatments are complete, just that this is probably the best the worker is going to get.

So for example, a person who suffers a back injury may ultimately be assigned a permanent partial disability rating of 20 percent. That means his capacity to work is reduced by 20 percent, and he is thus entitled to compensation for coverage of all related medical bills and costs, plus a lump sum or structured payment that covers the wage loss difference of 20 percent.

Insurance companies usually dispute permanent partial disability findings, so it can often be an arduous process that involves independent medical examinations, meetings with specialists, administrative hearings and appeals. Continue reading →

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Sometimes, the question of whether an injury arose in the course and scope of employment is simple because of where it happened or how it happened. laserbeam

Other times, the issue is more complicated. Perhaps it didn’t happen at the job site or during normal working hours or while worker was engaged in an activity that is supposed to be considered “fun.”

In these situations, where workers participate and are injured during work-related activities outside of their normal, everyday duties, it can be more challenging to secure workers’ compensation benefits. Continue reading →

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A woman whose husband was killed on-the-job in Atlanta while working for the city is seeking to challenge Georgia’s sovereign immunity and worker’s compensation exclusive remedy provisions.accident1

When her husband was killed, he was riding in the cab of a city-owned garbage truck, driven by his co-worker. Problem was, his co-worker was drunk. So drunk, in fact, his blood-alcohol level was three times over the 0.08 limit. (In commercial vehicles, the legal limit is 0.02, although the city has a zero tolerance policy.) Officials later found a bottle of vodka in the grass. Decedent had no alcohol in his system.

Her husband was thrown from the vehicle and died on impact. She too was a city employee. Her supervisors were the first to inform her of his passing.

Continue reading →

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If a worker in Georgia is injured on the job and cannot work for more than seven days, he or she is likely entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. tirednesssetsin

But there are several different kinds of benefits, which depend not only on the severity of injury, but the impact that injury has on the worker’s earning capacity.

Those type of benefits include:

  • Temporary Total Disability benefits
  • Permanent Total Disability Benefits
  • Permanent Partial Disability Benefits
  • Death and Dependency Benefits

Except for those injuries determined to be catastrophic (i.e., severe paralysis, severe burns, blindness, hearing loss, head injuries or amputations), benefits can only be paid for up to 400 weeks (or almost eight years).

In cases where permanent total disability is alleged, claimant will need to secure help from an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer because not only is there much at stake, it’s a difficult threshold to meet. These will typically be “catastrophic injuries,” as defined by state law.

However, different courts have weighed the issue differently.

For example, in the recent Ohio Supreme Court case State ex rel. Tradesmen Int’l v. Indus. Comm’n, a man was granted an award of permanent total disability compensation for a combination of conditions. He had a sprain to his low back. He suffered chronic pain syndrome and depression. He also had a sprain in his shoulder and wrist and disc protrusion in his spine.

All of this, the court found, could be traced to a 2003 work injury that was compensable.

He was originally awarded benefits at that time.

However, he applied for permanent total disability compensation in 2011. In his petition, he submitted a report from his treating physician in which it was stated claimant was restricted to very little movement throughout the day. He couldn’t lift more than 10 pounds. He also had to avoid any repetitive stooping, twisting, bending, pushing, lifting or pulling. Further, he would need frequent periods of rest to lie down and relieve back pain. The doctor noted the “significant difficulty” claimant would have in maintaining any kind of regular schedule.

Two other doctors also submitted medical reports indicating claimant could not work, given his extensive physical restrictions.

A hearing officer agreed, concluding he was unable to work and granted him permanent total disability.

The man’s former employer challenged that finding, alleging the court abused its discretion in ordering permanent compensation. Company alleged the primary care doctor had never said claimant’s disability was only the result of work-related injury.

However, the court of appeals concluded that while the doctor did state claimant could perform sedentary work, he also outlined a set of restrictions that were so narrow they all but effectively precluded all possible employment. The commission noted it wasn’t just whether the doctor concluded he could not work, but whether that conclusion is consistent with the physical restrictions from the doctor.

In this case, the restrictions were so limiting as to render him incapable of working.

Employer then appealed to the Ohio Supreme Court, which affirmed, with the additional finding that benefits should be retroactive to the date of his primary care doctor’s initial report – in 2011.

For information on Atlanta work injury compensation, contact J. Franklin Burns, P.C., at 1-404-303-7770.

Additional Resources:

State ex rel. Tradesmen Int’l v. Indus. Comm’n, June 24, 2015, Ohio Supreme Court

More Blog Entries:

Gill v. Brescome Barton, Inc. – Work-Related Knee Injuries, June 15, 2015, Atlanta Work Injury Lawyer Blog

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The state of Georgia requires companies with more than three workers to carry workers’ compensation coverage.
Most states have similar requirements, though they do vary.

In Georgia, when a company fails to obtain workers’ compensation coverage, injured employees are in real need of legal representation. While most workers hurt on the job are barred from filing a lawsuit against their employer per exclusive remedy provisions of workers’ compensation law, companies that don’t have this type of insurance aren’t shielded in the same way. That means workers can pursue litigation. However, unlike in a workers’ compensation case, they will have to prove the company was negligent and caused their injury. That means there is a higher proof burden.
Continue reading →

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It’s not uncommon for employers to switch workers’ compensation insurance carriers periodically. However, this action caused a headache for the courts when it came to a worker who suffered two compensable work-related injuries while working for the same employer, but covered by two different insurance carriers.
The case, Gill v. Brescome Barton, Inc., wound its way recently all the way to the Connecticut Supreme Court.

According to court records, worker suffered a compensable, work-related injury to his left knee back in 1997. At the time of that injury, his employer was insured for workers’ compensation benefits by Company 1.
Continue reading →

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The U.S. Department of Labor reports nearly 2 million people are victims of workplace violence annually. Workplace violence is defined as any act or threat of physical violence, harassment, intimidation or other threatening, disruptive behavior that occurs on-the-job.
Most of the time, workers injured in these cases are eligible to collect workers’ compensation or, if the attack proves fatal, their families can collect workers’ compensation death benefits. However, it’s not enough that the attack occurs on-site. It must somehow be job-related.

In some cases, depending on the circumstances, there may also be justification for a personal injury lawsuit. Generally, workers are barred from bringing such action against an employer – even if employer negligence was a factor.
Continue reading →

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As with any civil proceeding, workers’ compensation claims are subject to a specified statute of limitations, which is determined by the state.
A statute of limitations is a time period during which claims must be filed to be considered valid. The idea is courts want to limit the possibility of becoming backlogged with years-old cases for which evidence may have eroded or be non-existent. So for example in Georgia, the general rule is claims for workers’ compensation benefits have to be filed within one year of the accident date, or else the right to compensation is barred. This is different from the time limit for other types of personal injury claims, which is two years. That’s why injured workers must act quickly to secure benefits.

However, the statute of limitations can be “tolled” or postponed in certain cases. Those include situations in which income or medical benefits have been paid voluntarily by an employer to or on behalf of the injured worker. Claims involving a death have to be filed within one year of the date of death. There are also exceptions made when workers were not aware injuries were work-related.
Continue reading →