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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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 23, 2014

Food Service Workers Face High Rate of Injury

Saru Jayaraman, one of the country's most outspoken activists for restaurant workers, is making a huge attempt to link two groups that don't have a history of working together - organized labor and foodies.
According to the SF Gate, her goal is to help improve the working conditions for the nation's 10 million restaurant employees -- those who are about twice more likely to be on public assistance than other Americans.

Our Atlanta workers' compensation lawyers understand that about 1 in every 5 private sector worker is involving in some way in producing or delivering food. Still, this is the fastest-growing industry. On the other hand, 7 out of 10 of the lowest paying jobs in the country are in the food industry. In many areas of the country, line cooks are packing up and heading out because their pay isn't even enough to cover their rent.

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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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January 8, 2014

Georgia Workers Risk Safety in Cold Weather Extremes

Forecasts in Georgia over the next few weeks predict lows well below the 10s in some areas. With the wind child factor, the National Weather Service reports that some areas of the state may reach a dangerous 15 degrees below zero - or even colder.
Even areas of southern Georgia, which are often insulated from the worst of winter weather, are expected to hit lows of less than 20 degrees.

While that's still not nearly as cold as what our hardy Midwestern neighbors are enduring, many businesses in the south are not as well-prepared to deal with this kind of bone-chilling, record-breaking freeze. At greater risk for work injuries in Atlanta, employees toiling outdoors need to make sure the company is taking their well-being into careful consideration.

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December 30, 2013

OSHA Moving Forward with Standards to Improve Chemical Facility Safety

Following a devastating explosion of a fertilizer plant that caused fifteen deaths in 2013, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) intends to change the regulations related to chemical facility safety and security. Atlanta workers' compensation lawyers know that OSHA had not investigated the West Texas plant where the explosion took place since 1985, at which time the plant was fined $30 for violations found by the agency after the inspection. When the Administration conducted an investigation into the fertilizer plant after the deadly explosion in 2013, it found rule violations that prompted 24 citations. The total proposed OSHA fines for the fertilizer plant's citations was set at $118,300. chemicals-506057-m.jpg

Unfortunately, OSHA's citations after the fact are not able to bring back the 15 people who lose their lives, nor can the citations restore the health of the more than 300 people who were injured in the fertilizer blast. The new regulations on chemical facility safety and security, if they move forward, could potentially help to save lives in the future but only if employers obey the new rules and do all they are supposed to in order to keep workers and the public safe.

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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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