Articles Tagged with workers’ compensation attorney

Lawmakers in Oklahoma passed legislation three years ago that gave companies the ability to “opt out” of the state’s workers’ compensation system and write their own plans. It was yet another example of the gradual whittling away of injured workers’ rights across the country. Large companies were emboldened by this success and began lobbying heavily for similar measures in other states, including Georgia. 

Then came the stories about how unfair this opt-out system was for workers. Suddenly, employers were responsible for setting the terms of which injuries they would cover and which they would not. Workers were held to varying standards about when they had to report their workplace injuries. Some were given a month, others just a day. A worker at one company might be paid a certain amount for a finger amputation, while another might receive far less. Many workers were having to rely on taxpayer-funded programs, such as Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, to cover the cost of their work-related injuries.

Now, the Oklahoma Supreme Court has ended the opt-out program in that state. In Vasquez v. Dillard’s, the court declared Oklahoma’s version of opt-out unconstitutional. The court reasoned these opt-out plans treated one group of workers differently from all others in the state. The primary example given was the amount of time workers had to report claims at this retail store:  just one day. Normally, workers in the state have 30 days.

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The Occupational Safety & Health Administration is fighting against a federal magistrate’s ruling denying the agency a warrant that would allow it to inspect a poultry plant in Gainesville, Georgia for alleged worker safety violations. The U.S. Magistrate stated that federal regulators first must set forth clear probable cause, or else inspections end up becoming “tools of harassment.” In this case, the judge held, this standard had not been met.

OSHA is appealing.

Although the agency already conducted a cursory search of the facility, it had requested an expanded inspection. The magistrate, however, held that the probable cause standard wasn’t met and, interestingly, could not be met solely on the basis of a worker’s complaint or a reported work injury. OSHA had asserted that those should be reason enough, but even so, this was a situation where there were high numbers of work-related injuries. The agency believes the company to be not only in violation of serious safety rules but also poor record-keeping practices. Continue reading

In personal injury litigation, when a lawsuit is settled, that’s it. There is no going back to ask the same defendant for more money – even if your injuries are worse or lasted longer than you expected.

But it’s different with workers’ compensation claims, which can be re-opened when an employee disability has increased or recurred.

Often the first thing we need to explore is whether the case was settled via a stipulation and award or a compromise and release. If it was a stipulation and award, claims can often be reopened. However, with a compromise and release, employers are usually released from any future claims for the same incident. The only exception, usually, is if the settlement was somehow procured by fraud. Continue reading

At the core of the workers’ compensation system in America is the compromise between the employer and the injured employee: That the employer won’t face civil litigation, for which it would potentially be liable for big payouts for pain and suffering and other damages, while the worker doesn’t have to be fault-free and the process to get benefits is supposed to be faster. 

Based on these principles, there are a number of presumptions that are made that are supposed to tilt the scales slightly in favor of the worker. Among those is that workers’ compensation acts are supposed to be liberally construed to accomplish the purpose of providing injured workers benefits. So doubts are supposed to be resolved in favor of the worker.

This does not mean the worker will necessarily have benefits handed to them or that he or she won’t have to fight for them.  Continue reading

In Georgia workers’ compensation cases, proving one is totally and permanently disabled is not easy. Unless claimant has suffered a severe traumatic brain injury or a condition like quadriplegia or blindness, it will require substantial evidence from medical experts to prove the case. 

As pointed out by a recent ProPublica article on, “The Demolition of Workers’ Compensation,” the state ended the promise of lifetime medical care for work injuries in 2013, capping it at eight years for all but the worst cases.

Per Georgia Code Section 34-9-263, guides to percentage of disability or body loss ratings follow the guide published by the American Medical Association. Only if a person suffers the loss of more than one major member (i.e., both arms, hands, legs, feet or any two or more of these members OR loss of vision in both eyes), there is a rebuttable presumption of permanent total disability, as defined in Georgia Code Section 34-9-261. That means the burden of proof shifts to the defendant in the workers’ compensation case to show why plaintiff shouldn’t receive benefits (instead of the other way around).  Continue reading

Workers’ compensation is the exclusive remedy for employees injured on-the-job. That rule is applicable only insofar as employers and workers’ compensation insurance companies are concerned. When a work injury is due in full or in part to the negligent actions of a third party, the worker may pursue a personal injury lawsuit against that party – in addition to collecting workers’ compensation benefits.

However, it is crucial for employees to understand that if they do pursue a third party action, their employer and/or insurance company may be entitled to something called “subrogration.” In this scenario, it would mean the entity that paid workers’ compensation benefits would have a right to reimbursement from the third-party litigation damage award. That hold that an employer has on the third-party damage award is called a “subrogration lien.” The statute under which this is permitted is O.C.G.A. 34-9-11.1.

This does not mean a worker will get nothing by pursuing third-party action. The reality is, personal injury lawsuits tend to glean higher damage awards than workers’ compensation, and they also reimburse for losses such as pain and suffering – which workers’ compensation does not. It is imperative that injured workers in this situation employ an experienced attorney because failure to do so could mean a loss of critical benefits. Continue reading

In many workers’ compensation claims, the primary issue is the fact the employee can no longer work. He or she needs coverage not only of medical bills, but of a portion of the wages lost and, in some cases, the loss of earning potential via permanent partial disability.

However, there are some cases in which a worker’s injuries are so severe, a spouse or other loved one has no choice but to forego their own employment to care for the injured person full-time. This is referred to as “attendant care,” and it is something for which spouses of injured workers can be compensated.

Compensation for attendant care in Georgia is often awarded in cases where a worker has suffered an injury to the spine or loses function in the arms or legs, such that the worker requires assistance to perform daily activities of life. Although sometimes nurse assistants are called to perform these duties, it’s often more cost efficient and better for everyone involved if a loved one is to be the one rendering care. Continue reading