Recently in Georgia Workers' Compensation Category

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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February 13, 2014

Unexplained Falls, Worker's Comp Claims & Your Employment

The recent workers' compensation claim case of City of Brighton v. Rodriguez illustrates how unexplained work injuries could still be compensable, so long as the injury arises out of employment. modernglassstairs.jpg

Our Atlanta workers' compensation attorneys know the key point in these situations is that the "arising out of" requirement. This refers to the causal origin of the injury, but it doesn't necessarily mean that the injury was caused by employment. This requirement is met when, by reason of the employment, the worker is present at a location where he is injured either by a third person, an outside force or conditions of the location.

This is an important point because not all compensable work injuries stem from actual work duties.

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February 3, 2014

Handling Bad Faith Workers' Compensation Disputes in Atlanta

In Atlanta workers' compensation claims, it's not uncommon that an employer or an insurance company disputes payment. After all, they want to limit their own liability and costs as much as possible. coins5.jpg

However, once a claim has been deemed valid, the insurance company acts in bad faith if it refuses to pay. Other bad faith actions by insurers in workers' compensation claims include:

  • Disputing or delaying benefits absent a valid reason;

  • Forcing an injured employee to take a low-ball offer;

  • Refusing to pay for necessary medical care or other benefits;

  • Withholding benefits during the appeals process.

These kinds of actions can be devastating for workers because they are already unable to work. They are losing wages. Medical bills are stacking up, and they require continued care. Plus, they have to figure out how to pay the mortgage and make sure there are enough groceries to feed the family.

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January 28, 2014

OSHA Launches New Tool To Protect Hospital Workers

Officials with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently announced the addition of a new online resource, Worker Safety in Hospitals, to help to prevent worker injuries, assess workplace safety, implement health and safety management systems and to create better safe-handling programs.
"These new materials can help prevent hospital worker injuries and improve patient safety, while reducing costs," said Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health.

Our workers' compensation lawyers in Georgia know identifying risks before they strike and implementing comprehensive safety interventions are some of the most effective ways to help to protect hospital workers while helping to enhance service to the patients. In American hospitals, officials recorded more than 253,000 work-related injuries and illnesses in 2011. That is a rate of nearly 7 work-related illnesses and injuries for every 100 full-time workers -- almost twice the rate for private industry.

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January 14, 2014

Atlanta Workers' Compensation Claims: Injuries Must Arise From Employment

In order to be successful in the submission of an Atlanta workers' compensation claim, it's critical for the legal team representing you to prove that the injury or illness arose out of the course of your employment. cuidado.jpg

In some cases, this is pretty simple. For example, a full-time construction worker is struck by a falling beam at a work site while he's on the clock.

But other scenarios can be less black-and-white.

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December 23, 2013

Workers' Compensation for Georgia's Independent Contractors

The state of Georgia established the system of workers' compensation to provide benefits to employees for medical treatment and wages while they recover from an on-the-job injury.
A key element of successfully arguing for these benefits, however, is proving that you are an employee. For those who work as independent contractors, this is more complicated than you might think - but it's not impossible, despite the fact that Georgia's workers' compensation law doesn't technically cover independent contractors.

However, many independent contractors are wrongly classified by the employer in the first place. That is, just because a company labels a worker as an independent contractor, using a form 1099 for withholding taxes, does not necessarily mean that the person would not be considered an employee under state law.

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December 19, 2013

Traveling Employees And Georgia Workers' Compensation

Thousands of workers are seriously injured annually in motor vehicle accidents. As a result, there are often questions that arise with regard to whether that worker is entitled to workers' compensation coverage or whether he or she would be better served pursuing a personal injury claim under general negligence law.
The answer often depends on whether the employee was actually working at the time of the crash or whether he was traveling to or from work. And, in fact, a third-party liability claim may allow an attorney to both pursue a workers' comp claim and a personal injury lawsuit for negligence against parties other than an employer.

Georgia case law, and specifically the 1968 decision in Corbin v. Liberty Mutual Insurance Company, holds that injuries sustained by a worker who is coming from or traveling to his job are not compensable under the state's workers' compensation program. In the Corbin case, the employee was leaving the work site to go home when he was injured in a crash on an access road owned by the city. The employee had been working on a city project at the time. However, the court determined that because the worker was on his way home, the injury did not happen in the course of his employment and so his claim was denied.

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December 12, 2013

Establishing Source of Georgia Work Injuries

One of the greatest challenges for Atlanta workers' compensation attorneys is establishing for the court the origin of a client's illness or injuries. armphoto.jpg

In some instances, this is very straightforward, as the condition arose from a single, often traumatic, incident, such as a crash or a fall.

Other times, however, a worker's condition has the possibility of arising from more than one source, leaving the door open for employers to argue that it did not occur as a result or in the course of one's employment. Given that this is a key point that must be proven in order to secure a claim, it's not one that ailing workers can expect to dance around.

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October 18, 2013

Georgia Power Company Cited After Workplace Explosion

Georgia Power Company's Plant Bowen was recently cited by officials with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration with more than 15 serious safety violations after a generator explosion. It happened back in April during a maintenance shutdown at the plant in Cartersville. All of these safety violations come with fines totaling close to $120,000.
"It is a fundamental responsibility of employers to ensure a safe workplace," said Christi Griffin, director of OSHA's Atlanta-West Area Office.

Our Atlanta workers' compensation lawyers know the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSH Act) was passed to prevent workers from being killed or otherwise harmed at work. The law requires employers to provide employees with working conditions that are free of known dangers. The OSH Act created OSHA, which sets and enforces protective workplace safety and health standards. OSHA also provides information, training and assistance to workers. If you feel like your safety is being compromised on the job, you have the legal right to speak up and raise those concerns. Your voice may prevent a serious work tragedy.

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September 30, 2013

Workplace Eye Safety Advice For Employers and Employees

Every year, an estimated 2.5 million annual eye injuries throughout the United States result in $1.2 billion in medical costs and lost productivity. Reducing the number of eye injuries is fundamentally important, and the American Academy of Ophthalmology has declared October home eye safety awareness month in order to alert the public to risks to their eyes that exist in the home. boys-green-eye-1405557-m.jpg

Since around 2,000 workers daily sustain eye injuries on the job, our Atlanta workers' compensation lawyers believe that October is also a good time for both employers and employees to review eye safety tips that can help avoid disaster during working hours.

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August 15, 2013

Silica Dangers Prompt Proposed Rule From OSHA

We tend to hear a great deal about the hazards of on-the-job asbestos inhalation, which has been known to cause a rare and fatal form of cancer known as mesothelioma.
Now, the U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration is focused on promotion of awareness of a similar airborne work hazard: crystalline silica. The agency has proposed a new rule that is aimed at curbing the incidents of lung cancer, kidney disease, silicosis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease that American workers suffer as a result of exposure to silica. The agency estimates hundreds of workers die and thousands more are sickened each year by the substance.

Our Atlanta workers' compensation lawyers know that such exposure might not only affect a person's ability to work, but also to breathe. OSHA anticipates that the new proposed rules could potentially result in the prevention of 1,600 silica-related illness diagnoses each year, as well as 700 silica-related deaths.

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June 18, 2013

Georgia Employers Have Duty to Prepare for Severe Weather

Tropical storms have already begun churning in the Atlantic Ocean and into the Gulf of Mexico, with the most recent, Andrea, drenching the Georgia coast and reminding all employers of the importance of being prepared.
Our Atlanta workers' compensation lawyers know that Georgia is no stranger to tropical storms, hurricanes, tornadoes and other severe weather.

As the curtain opens on the 2013 hurricane season this month, the U.S. Occupational Health & Safety Administration wants workers to know they have a right to a safe workplace free of known hazards and dangers. It's a given that major storms and other severe weather is going to occur. Employers have a duty to be prepared for it.

Generally, this means ensuring that workers are sheltered and/or protected and not sent out into perilous elements without proper training and tools.

The first step in that is having a clear plan. OSHA advises employers to:

  • Establish what kinds of conditions will activate the plan. For example, perhaps a certain wind strength would trigger the plan.

  • List a chain of command, so that there is no confusion about who will play what role in the event of an emergency.

  • Figure out a list of functions that will be necessary in an emergency, and decide exactly who will perform them.

  • Have a specific list of evacuation procedures, which will include certain routes and exits so workers are clear on what to do.

  • Work on a procedure that will help the company account for personnel, customers and visitors in case of an emergency. This way, if someone does go missing, the employer will know sooner, which can be valuable information for rescue personnel.

  • Provide proper equipment for workers to ensure safety in all conditions.

Some employers are legally required to have an Emergency Action Plan, per 29 CFR 1910.39.

In addition to having clear evacuation plans, it's imperative for companies to have clear plans to be followed by those workers who are preparing to stay and perform critical functions during the storm. Part of this means becoming familiar with the language used to warn about hurricanes and other severe weather, as well as the emergency plans of the local community, which will include nearby shelters.

Workers who are remaining on site should be provided with basic disaster supplies to help them ride out a storm. Those include:

  • Water (one gallon per person per day for at least three days, for both drinking and sanitation);

  • Food (a three-day supply of food that is non-perishable);

  • Battery-powered weather radio and batteries;

  • First aid kit;

  • Flashlights and extra batteries;

  • Moist towelettes and garbage bags;

  • Whistle to signal for help;

  • Dust mask to help filter contaminated air;

  • Cell phones with chargers, solar charger or inverter;

  • Local maps;

  • Manual can opener.

Keep in mind that these are only guidelines. Other items may be necessary, depending on the kind of work you expect employees to perform during the storm and its aftermath.

Especially keep in mind the heat index. If you expect workers to be outside in post-storm conditions without air conditioning, make sure they are aware of heat-related illnesses, are provided with enough water and take frequent breaks in the shade.

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April 28, 2013

Combustible Dust Fires - An Explosive Risk in Georgia Manufacturing

Dust hanging in the air may seem to be a natural part of many workplaces. In metal shops, for example, there may be flakes, chunks, fibers or fine particles of metal such as magnesium and aluminum. In construction zones and in many industrial and commercial workplaces, it is also common to find various other dust and fibers hanging in the area, including plastic, wood, coal, rubber, sugar or flour or even paper. 1398122_forge_paths_of_fire__2.jpg

Our Atlanta work accident lawyers know that dust can be dangerous for many reasons including the risks to workers when they breathe in dust particles. One risk that many may not think about, however, is the risk that this dust can be combustible. Although the potential dangers of a combustible dust fire may not be the first thing that you think about as a health concern in a dusty workplace, the danger is very real, and is a common cause of explosive fires in manufacturing settings.

Firefighters and emergency personnel must often confront the risk.

To draw attention to the risks of combustible dust fires and to help ensure that emergency workers are protected, Occupational Safety And Health Administration (OSHA) recently published new information on the issue. This booklet is called Firefighting Precautions at Facilities with Combustible Dust. The booklet is written for an audience of first responders who may find themselves responding to explosions and fires where combustible dust particles are present.

The Dangers of Combustible Dust Explosions
From 1980 through today, there have been more than 780 workers injured in combustible dust explosions and there have been more than 130 workers killed in tragic explosions involving combustible dust.

To prevent further injuries and deaths, OSHA advises that firefighters and other emergency responders should:

  • Learn about the dangers of combustible dust through the use of safety data sheets (SDS). Employers of first responders and first responders themselves should consult these sheets to learn what types of materials can result in combustible dust. Knowing when an environment is likely to have such dust is very important to those responding to or fighting a fire.

  • Conduct pre-incident reviews. Pre-incident reviews are appropriate when an environment or facility is very likely to produce combustible dust. A pre-incident review would involve an inspection of high-risk facilities so that emergency responders will know in advance about the conditions that they might find when a fire or explosion does occur.

Employers in workplaces where combustible dust may be produced also bear certain responsibilities in order to keep first responders safe. The use of a dust protection system, for example, is advised not just to help ensure workers avoid breathing dangerous dust on a regular basis but also to protect first responders. A dust protection system might include abort gates as well as relief vents if it is to protect first responders since these solutions make it possible for burning materials or pressure to be directed out of confined areas. A detection and suppression system may also be advisable.

If employers and first responders are able to understand the risks and take responsibility to ensure that those risks are minimized, fewer people will be injured or killed as a result of combustible dust.

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April 12, 2013

Atlanta Construction Accidents a Risk with Spring Weather

Construction projects often go into full swing during the spring and summer months, which is great news for workers looking to jump on projects and get some work done. However, with more work being performed, the risk of accidents increases. Construction sites can be dangerous places and workers are in danger of getting hurt in a number of different ways. 1368615_ladder.jpg

Our Atlanta work accident lawyers know that some of the top causes of workplace accidents on construction sites are fall accidents. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has recently issued a Trade News Release about its efforts to prevent fatal falls in construction. The new efforts focus on raising awareness of the fall risk. OSHA also has a three part Fall Prevention Campaign of which every worker and employer should take notice.

The Steps to Fall Prevention
OSHA's national outreach campaign to raise awareness of falls on construction sites is directed towards both workers and employers. Workers can make a point to follow OSHA's tips for acting in a safe and responsible way when working at height.

However, ultimately the safety of a worksite is determined by an employer. An employer who provides top-quality equipment and who has adequate safety policies in place is going to have a major impact on reducing the risks of a fall. On the other hand, when an employer creates an unsafe workplace or allows safety violations, a worker could be in danger of falling no matter how careful he is when performing his job.

Employers, therefore, should be especially careful to pay attention to OSHA's tips for fall prevention. OSHA's three part plan for preventing falls on construction sites includes the following steps:

  • Planning: Employers need to evaluate what safety equipment will be required to perform a job and should build the costs of the equipment into their bids. Employers must make all tools including the right equipment (and safe equipment) available on site. Workers should also plan ahead by making sure they have everything they need before getting started on doing any job.
  • Providing. Employers must provide the right equipment to workers. This includes fall protection equipment, as well as the right types of safety gear, ladders and scaffolds.
  • Training: Everyone on the job site should be trained in how to perform work safely. Workers need to be trained on how to use all of the equipment they need to use in order to do their jobs. There should also be training on the proper set-up of equipment and on hazard recognition.

OSHA has many materials that can be used by employers to offer training. Employers simply need to take the initiative to understand and comply with OSHA guidelines and to use the resources available to them. OSHA's new campaign to publicize fall dangers may encourage employers to be proactive about preventing workplace injuries, thus potentially saving workers' lives.

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