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 30, 2014

Hanik v. Christopher & Banks, Inc. - Courts Wrestle With Compensability of Parking Lot Fall

In determining whether an injury is covered by workers' compensation, three general factors are considered: The zone of employment, whether the injury is work-related and the coming-and-going rule.
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Every state has its own workers' compensation laws and interpretation of case law regarding what is considered "work-related," if an employee is coming-and-going and whether the incident occurred within the zone of employment.

With regard to the latter, our Atlanta workers' compensation lawyers recognize typically, the zone of employment is considered to be limited to the facilities, the parking lot and any sidewalks that are owned and/or controlled by the employer. However, this issue is not always a straightforward determination, as evidenced by the recent case of Hanik v. Christopher & Banks, Inc., weighed by the Kentucky Supreme Court.

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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 15, 2014

Attorneys: Lawsuit to be Filed in Fall-Related Work Accident

There was a time when the shared dream of eight acrobats was to be star performers. Now, they say, they dream of the day when they will be able to stand up out of their wheelchairs and walk. circusintown.jpg

The crew members were severely injured in a horrifying accident while performing for a circus show in Rhode Island in May. As they struggle to regain basic mobility, our Atlanta workers' compensation attorneys understand that a law firm representing them has promised litigation, though it will not be against their direct employer.

That's because workers' compensation is what is known as an "exclusive remedy." This is true in Rhode Island, and it's true here in Georgia and across the country. Essentially, this means the employer whose workers' compensation insurance covers work-related injuries and illnesses can't be sued by the worker for those ailments. Those benefits are considered the only means of redress against the company, no matter how negligent the firm may have been in failing to prevent the incident.

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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 20, 2014

Williams v. Petromark Drilling - Coming-and-Going Rule Challenged

It's been well-established in Georgia, as well as many other states, that if a worker is traveling to or leaving from work, and is injured in a motor vehicle accident, workers compensation benefits may not be collected.
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However, our Atlanta workers' compensation lawyers know there are always exceptions, which is why injured workers should never assume the outcome of their claim is a foregone conclusion.

In the case of Williams v. Petromark Drilling, LLC, the worker was injured in a car accident while on his way home from work. However, he was ultimately awarded workers' compensation benefits after a great deal of back-and-forth, because, as the Kansas Supreme Court determined, the trip occurred while the claimant was "in the course and scope of his employment."

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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 13, 2014

Georgia Work Injuries Incurred While Leaving May be Compensable if Still on Site

In Georgia, courts have established that an employee injury that occurs while the worker was going to or coming from his or her place of work is not considered to have happened "in the course of employment." Therefore, the worker wouldn't be entitled to worker's compensation. rug.jpg

However, Atlanta workers' compensation lawyers know that this is a general rule, and there are lots of possible exceptions. As every case is different, it's important not to assume that you don't have a legitimate claim before first consulting with an attorney.

One recent case reviewed by the Oklahoma Supreme Court reveals the complexity of many of these cases. Graham Public Schools v. Priddy, stems from an injury incurred by a school employee who tripped and fell over a rug as she rushed out the door to attend to a family emergency.

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