Recently in Georgia Workers' Compensation Category

August 25, 2014

Harris v. Millennium Hotel - Same-Sex Partnership and Workers' Compensation Benefits

Workers' compensation benefits are intended to aid an employee and his or her dependents in the event serious injury or death arises in the course of job-related functions.
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Generally, for purposes of benefit collection, "spouses" are defined under workers' compensation law as individuals married to injured workers. Usually, live-in boyfriends and girlfriends are excluded from receiving workers' compensation benefits. But what if the couple is precluded by law from marrying?

Georgia, like many other states, has implemented a same-sex marriage ban that forbids homosexual couples from being married. The legislature banned it in 1996, and a constitutional amendment underscoring the same was passed in 2004.

Still, our Atlanta workers' compensation attorneys recognize there may be some hope for homosexual couples in this regard, given the recent precedent set by the U.S. Supreme Court's determination that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was unconstitutional, as well as the Alaska Supreme Court in Harris v. Millennium Hotel.

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August 20, 2014

Gregory v. Cott - Workers' Compensation Exclusive Remedy for Some Injured Health Workers

Health care workers, including those who provide in-home care, are at high risk for violence on the job, especially when working with patients suffering from dementia, accompanied by aggression.
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However, these workers may have difficulty securing damages from the patient and/or the patient's family if injured in an attack by the patient. In many of these cases, our Atlanta workers' compensation lawyers recognize workers' compensation benefits are likely to be the only remedy.

The recent case of Gregory v. Cott, decided recently by the California Supreme Court, illustrates the issues.

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August 10, 2014

Cruz v. Workers' Compensation Appeal Board - Court Weighs Proof Burden for Injured Undocumented Workers

It's been well-established by courts across the country - including Georgia - that undocumented and illegal immigrants who sustain work injuries are entitled to collect worker's compensation insurance benefits from their employer.
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Further, our Atlanta workers' compensation attorneys know that one of the key hurdles in any work injury claim is proving the worker has been unable to obtain gainful employment since the injury and proximately as a result of the disability.

What the Pennsylvania Supreme Court recently ruled in a split decision in Cruz v. Workers' Compensation Appeal Board, where the employer sought to cut benefits to an injured, undocumented worker, was that the employer had the burden of proof with regard to the assertion that the worker was unable to find work because of his undocumented status, rather than his work injury. Additionally, the court found the worker's invocation of his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination during a hearing before the state worker's compensation board didn't constitute substantial evidence of the worker's alleged lack of legal status to work in the U.S.

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August 1, 2014

Higginbotham v. WSI - Disputing Conclusions of Vocational Rehabilitation Report

In Georgia work accidents, employees who have suffered injures that are not considered catastrophic may be entitled to vocational rehabilitation. This is a service offered when a worker is no longer able to perform his or her previous job, but may still be able to do some type of work after some additional help to enter that field.
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The employer may have to pay for this service if the workers' compensation board or court orders it. Workers don't necessarily have to participate, but should know they risk a reduction or elimination of benefits if they don't, under O.C.G.A. 34-9-200.1.

Workers should know too that reports from vocational consultants can potentially impact their ability to collect benefits if it is determined they are able to perform other types of jobs, even if they can no longer do the work they previously did. Having an experienced Atlanta workers' compensation lawyer to help dispute the conclusions of these reports in some cases can help preserve your entitlement to benefits.

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July 23, 2014

Study: Undocumented Workers Face Danger on the Job

A study conducted recently by a team of researchers with Cornell University and Penn State University reveals that undocumented Mexican workers receive no wage premium for working in hazardous conditions, whereas most other groups do.
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The study, The Occupational Cost of Being Illegal in the United States: Legal Status, Job Hazards, and Compensating Differentials, published in the journal International Migration Review, indicates these workers receive low or no compensating differential, despite working in fields where the fatality rate, exposure to toxic materials and the risk of falls is high.

Our Atlanta workers' compensation lawyers know that employers of undocumented workers take advantage of the fear that any reporting of work injuries might result in potential deportation.

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July 3, 2014

Louie v. BP Exploration Inc. - Workers' Compensation for Deep Vein Thrombosis in Travelers

It's not uncommon for employers and their insurance firms to deny legitimate Georgia workers' compensation claims by arguing the injuries were not work-related.
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In some cases, refuting this is more challenging than in others. Our workers' compensation lawyers in Atlanta are experienced in handling these sort of assertions. We also know that there are some conditions even the worker may not realize immediately as being work-related.

A good example is deep-vein thrombosis, which was the case for the highly-paid worker in Louie v. BP Exploration (Alaska), Inc.. Deep vein thrombosis is a type of blood clot that occurs deep within the veins, usually in the lower legs or thighs. It can restrict flow of the blood and cause swelling and pain. Beyond that, there is a risk the clot could break loose and block blood flow to the heart, lungs or brain.

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June 30, 2014

Medlin v. Weaver Cooke Constr. - Employer Demands Overpayment Credit

Once an injured employee has been awarded workers' compensation, he or she has cleared the biggest hurdle. However, it may not be the only obstacle he or she will face in the bureaucratic benefits process.
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This is true even if you are no longer working for the employer from whom you obtained the benefits. In some cases, employers will pursue former workers for overpayment of benefits if they believe the disability did not last as long as the benefits. That could mean you are suddenly facing an unexpected bill for thousands of dollars, and the burden of proof is on you to show you truly were still disabled and lacked the capacity to work.

Our Atlanta work injury lawyers can help.

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June 10, 2014

Brown v. Ajax Paving - Worker Alleges Company Introduced False Medical Testimony

It's not unusual for companies facing a worker compensation claim after a serious on-the-job injury to mount an aggressive defense.
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However in one recent case, an injured employee alleged that not only had his company introduced false medical testimony in his case, it had done so in several of his fellow co-workers' cases as well. It was on this basis that, after settling his workers' compensation claim with the firm, he filed a lawsuit alleging the company, the administrators and the "independent" doctor engaged in a kind of fraud under the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO).

Atlanta workers' compensation lawyers understand the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals recently affirmed dismissal of the case, Brown v. Ajax Paving Indus., Inc., on the grounds that the plaintiff didn't lose anything as a result of the company's actions. However, this was because he settled and wasn't at risk of losing any of his benefits as a result.

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June 3, 2014

Report: Temp's Work Death Was Preventable, Forewarned

Not only was the death of the 28-year-old Puerto Rican father entirely preventable, but according to a report from the Occupational Safety & Health Administration it was forewarned a year earlier. The company that contracted with a temporary worker agency knew the risk its practices posed, and yet choose to do nothing to make the job safer.
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That's according to a joint report from ProPublica and The Boston Globe. ProPublica has been hyper-focused on the issue of temporary worker safety throughout the U.S. in recent months. This incident occurred in Massachusetts in 2011.

Our Atlanta workers' compensation lawyers know this case presents lessons that employers can and should take to heart, or else risk a potential liability.

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May 30, 2014

Court: Post-Retirement Claim Stemming From Prior Work Injury Valid

Most people assume workers' compensation benefits can only be claimed for the time period in which the worker is employed by that company. This is false.
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A worker can seek compensation benefits for an earlier work-related injury if the negative effects are ongoing. This is true whether the worker is now employed somewhere else or even if they've retired (so long as the retirement is related to the work injury). And in the recent case of State ex rel. Honda of Am. Mfg., Inc. v. Indus. Comm'n, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled a retired worker does not have to prove he or she suffered economic loss as a result of the ongoing injury in order to collect.

Atlanta workers' compensation lawyers understand this case stemmed from long-term ailments directly related to employment with an auto manufacturer.

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May 20, 2014

Frith v. WSI - Proving Substantial Acceleration of Existing Condition by Work Injury

Generally, workers are not barred from collecting workers' compensation benefits simply because they suffer from a preexisting condition.
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Atlanta workers' compensation lawyers do recognize, however, that these claims tend to be more complicated. Benefits are only intended for workers who were hurt on the job, so proving causation is going to be a hurdle in these cases. Defendants may argue that the condition existed prior to the work accident, and therefore shouldn't be compensable. Alternately, they may assert the new injury was more greatly predicated on the old condition, rather than anything that happened at work. This is why you will need an experienced lawyer.

Workers' compensation will sometimes cover preexisting conditions - but only if you can show that substantial acceleration or worsening of that condition was a direct result of a work-related accident or duty. Failure to do so may result in denial of your claim.

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May 3, 2014

Workplace Death Entitles Survivors to Benefits, Possible Third-Party Lawsuit

One of the most dreaded scenarios a family can face is the loss of a loved one in a workplace accident.
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The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that there were nearly 3 million work-related injuries and illnesses in private industry in 2012. Comparatively there were 4,628 workplace deaths that year, with 76 of those reported in Georgia. (These figures are low, as research has shown not all work-related ailments and injuries are properly reported to the government.)

Atlanta workers' compensation lawyers recognize that these are some of the lowest figures since the early 1990s. Still, when each death occurs, loved ones are blind-sided. They may not realize, for example, that no matter how negligent an employer was in causing a worker's death, that company likely cannot be sued by the family.

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April 30, 2014

Unreported Work Injuries in Atlanta a Growing Concern

A few years ago, a report from the Government Accountability Office indicated that both workers and employers don't just occasionally underreport work-related ailments. In fact, underreporting of work-related injuries and illnesses is routine, researchers found. This trend has continued.
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Workers' compensation lawyers in Atlanta believe that understanding the reasons why and also the consequences can help improve the overall reporting rate, which will ultimately boost workplace safety.

Reports from the the Occupational Safety and Health Administration have suggested that significant decreases in workplace injuries and fatalities in recent years were attributable to improvements in workplace safety and a decline in manufacturing jobs. However, the GAO pointed to a number of academic studies indicating that the agency failed to include up to two-thirds of all worker injuries and illnesses.

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March 24, 2014

Documentation of Work Injury Imperative for Successful Claim

Employees filing a workers' compensation claim in Atlanta won't get far if there is little or no documentation of the alleged injury or illness. apple3.jpg

If you do not have the necessary medical records, doctor reports, witness testimony and other tangible evidence of your condition and how it occurred, the State Board of Workers' Compensation in Georgia is sure to reject your claim - no matter how seriously you've been hurt.

This was recently the issue in Fonseca v. Corral Ag, Inc., where the Idaho Supreme Court upheld the industrial commission's ruling that although the worker was injured, he hadn't done enough to prove he had suffered a work-related accident.

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February 20, 2014

Georgia's Coming and Going Rule: Employers' Responsibility to Traveling Workers

One of the most common types of work-related accidents occur on the road in the from of traffic crashes. motorcycleboy.jpg

But whether an employer is required to pay Atlanta workers' compensation claims stemming from automobile accidents depends largely on the state's "Coming and Going Rule."

Generally speaking, companies and their insurers are not responsible for paying benefits in cases where an employee was hurt during the daily commute. This is known as the "Coming and Going Rule." This is usually the case even if the employee will be required to use his or her vehicle later in the work day for work purposes.

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