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.
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.
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.
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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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.
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.
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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April 23, 2014

Noise Increases Atlanta Work-Accident Risks

Exposure to loud noises at work unquestionably put employees at risk of developing hearing impairment.
However, a recent study suggests that loud noises on the job - as well as the hearing loss it causes - results in an increased danger of workplace accidents in Atlanta and elsewhere. Specifically, the problem is that these workers tend to more frequently miss danger signals and warnings.

Researchers with the National Public Health Institute of Quebec report that workers routinely exposed to noise levels exceeding 100 decibels had more than double the risk of hospitalization for a work-related injury. Additionally, workers who suffer hearing loss are far more likely to be seriously hurt on the job.

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April 11, 2014

Danger to Southern Poultry Workers Highlighted in Congressional Testimony

In response to the U.S. Department of Agriculture proposal to increase line speeds at factories specializing in poultry evisceration, advocates with the Southern Poverty Law Center testified before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights that workers are subjected to "disabling harm" even under the current guidelines.
A report published by the SPLC last year, titled "Unsafe at These Speeds," detailed the poor work conditions of thousands of poultry processing plant workers in Alabama. The details caught the attention of Atlanta workers' compensation lawyers, as Alabama is third in American poultry production. Georgia is No. 1, annually responsible for producing 25 million pounds of chicken, 14 million eggs, employing 47,000 directly statewide and 77,000 indirectly and generating $13.5 billion.

Many of those workers are Latin American migrants (mostly from Mexico), a population that has expanded in Georgia since the 1990s by 300 percent. While industry leaders tout the opportunities these jobs provide to the migrant workers, the reality is much darker.

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April 4, 2014

Fighting for Ongoing Medical Coverage for Work-Related Injury

A worker who suffers an on-the-job injury may feel the physical and emotional effects of that incident for many years to come.
But even when a worker successfully secures the initial benefits, obtaining coverage for subsequent treatments can be tough, unless your Atlanta workers' compensation lawyer can help you prove that the ongoing medical issues are directly related to your earlier work injury.

It will be important in these cases to have ample medical documentation and witness statements connecting your current medical problems to the previous work injury. The case of Delacastro v. State ex rel., Wyo. Workers' Safety & Comp. Div., reviewed recently by the Wyoming Supreme Court, shows what can happen when you aren't prepared.

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March 30, 2014

Delayed Crane Safety Requirements Increase Georgia Construction Accident Risks

Last summer, a 21-year-old worker was killed in a Macon crane accident, after the arm of the crane snapped and pinned him against a trailer.
Then just recently, crews at an Atlanta sewage plant suffered a scare when a crane collapsed in the midst of their work day. Thankfully, no one was hurt in that incident.

Our Atlanta workers' compensation lawyers know that these incidents are far too frequent, and both occurred years after the U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration issued updated rules for crane operator safety requirements. First ordered in 2010, the new requirements were supposed to take full effect by the end of this year.

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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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March 11, 2014

Georgia's Temporary Workers Deserve Greater Protections

On his first day at his first job, the Fort Stewart native was proud to be dressed in his safety gear at a bottling plant in Jacksonville, Fla.
He even sent a cell phone photograph that he snapped in uniform to his girlfriend, and promised to call her on his break. But he would never get the chance. Ninety minutes later, he was crushed by a palletizer machine that came crashing down with about 2,000 pounds of force.

Our Atlanta work injury lawyers know that like so many other firms, this one has built temporary workers into the fabric of its business model - to the detriment of worker safety. Some of those temps work for two, three years or more and are never hired full-time.

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March 8, 2014

Georgia Work Injuries & Amputation Risks

PBS reporter Miles O'Brien has confirmed that he was forced to undergo a work-related amputation while on assignment overseas after a large suitcase fell on his arm and caused severe pressure buildup in his forearm. fender2.jpg

The risk of a work-related amputation in Atlanta is higher than you might think, particularly given if the recent citations issued by the Region 4 Occupational Safety & Health Administration are any indication.

In the first case, OSHA cited an auto manufacturer and the temporary staffing agency with which it works in Thomson, Ga. (just outside of Augusta) for a total of 22 health and safety violations - including numerous amputation hazards. According to the report, the companies failed to protect workers from various chemical and burn exposures. Additionally, a number of machines did not have the proper guards on them, which posed a risk of laceration and possibly amputation. Three of these citations were for repeat violations. In all, the companies are facing nearly $210,000 in fines.

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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 17, 2014

Court Rejects OSHA's Multi-Employer Work Site Safety Doctrine

The Utah State Supreme Court recently concluded that employers aren't responsible for the safety of subcontractors - contrary to the multi-employer work site safety doctrine set forth by the U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration.
The ruling in Hughes Gen. Contractors, Inc. v. Utah Labor Comm'n doesn't have any immediate impact on those filing workers' compensation claims in Atlanta, but other courts could be influenced by the ruling when faced with similar situations.

The multi-employer work site safety doctrine was first established by OSHA back in 1994. The law holds that when there are work sites with numerous employers - both construction and non-construction firms - citations for work safety violations will normally be issued to employers whose employees are exposed to hazards.

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