shutterstock_100154162-300x200There are many factors that can complicate an Atlanta workers’ compensation case. One of the most common of these is a prior work injury. The employer and its insurance company will often dispute a new injury claim in such situations, arguing that the employee’s current condition is due to the old injury rather than a subsequent accident or a work-related aggravation of the condition at his or her present place of employment.

If you find yourself in such a situation, the best course of action is to speak to a lawyer about your case as soon as possible. While not every work injury case is winnable when there are complications like a previous injury, your chances are considerably improved when you have a trained professional advocating for you.

Facts of the Case

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Which types of injuries are considered compensable in a Georgiaworkers’ compensation case? The short answer is “most, but, unfortunately, not all.” For example, if there is an explosion at work, and a worker is killed, the worker’s family will probably be entitled to death benefits on the deceased employee’s behalf. If a second worker is physically injured in the explosion, but he or she is not killed, that person may be entitled to benefits for medical expenses and time off from work due to injuries suffered in the accident.

But what if, instead of being physically injured, the second worker claims a psychological injury – not from what happened to him, per se, but from knowing that a co-worker later died as a result of the accident?

Facts of the Case

large potholeIn an Atlanta car accident lawsuit, the defendant is not always a negligent motorist whose actions led to a crash. Sometimes, a party who was not even present at the accident scene may be named as a defendant – such as in a product liability lawsuit against the manufacturer of an uncrashworthy vehicle or, as in a recent appellate case, a city (and city officials) who allegedly failed to maintain a roadway, thus causing an accident.

When the defendant happens to be a governmental entity, however, special rules apply, and such cases can prove to be more difficult than cases against “regular” defendants, such as individuals or businesses.

Facts of the Case

calculatorUnfortunately, not every employer fully complies with the duties and responsibilities placed on them by the Georgia workers’ compensation laws. Sometimes, an employer may totally deny a claim, while other times the employer may only deny particular benefits sought by a person hurt at work. For example, an employer might admit that a worker was injured on the job and may be willing to pay for the employee’s medical care but deny the employee’s request for light duty work or temporary disability benefits.

In such situations, the employee may be without a remedy until his or her case makes it through the appropriate administrative tribunals. However, there may be a chance that he or she can use other benefits at work – short or long term disability insurance, for instance – while the claim proceeds (although there are some risks in doing so). In such cases, there may need to be an adjustment or repayment of these benefits later, if the employee’s workers’ compensation case is successful.

Facts of the Case

operating roomWhen someone is hurt at work, his or her employer (or its workers’ compensation insurance carrier) must provide certain medical benefits to the employee.

However, this is not a blank check for the injured worker to have any and all medical treatment that he or she believes would help alleviate the problems caused by the work accident. Instead, there are certain rules and procedures that must be followed in order for there to be an obligation upon the employer or its insurer to pay for a particular treatment. As with other issues in Georgia workers’ compensation cases, the employee has the burden of proof in convincing the workers’ compensation board that he or she is entitled to the relief sought.

Facts and Issues

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In order to recover money damages for injuries or a loved one’s wrongful death following an Atlanta car accident, the claimant must be able to prove that the defendant owed the claimant a particular duty, that the duty was breached, that the claimant suffered some type of damage, and that there was a link of causation between the breach of duty and the damage suffered by the claimant.

If all of these elements of negligence can be proven, the claimant may be able to recover substantial compensation. Typically, this compensation is paid by the negligent party’s liability insurance company, which has a duty to negotiate claims in good faith. But what happens when an insurance company and a claimant have drastically different opinions as to the value of a particular claim? A recent case illustrates what can happen when an insurance company “lowballs” a settlement offer, and the claimant goes on to recover a seven-figure jury verdict.

Facts of the Case

brick wallThere’s an expression, “don’t sweat the small stuff,” that implies that the finer details of a situation often do not really matter. While this may be true for some things, it is definitely not true in a Georgia premises liability case.

The details matter, and they matter very much. The “small stuff,” like who exactly paid an injured child’s medical expenses, can make a big difference in the outcome of a lawsuit. In a recent case, overlooking such an issue cost the parents more than $35,000.

Facts of the Case

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Generally in the law, a defendant “takes the plaintiff as he finds him,” even if the plaintiff had some pre-existing malady that made him or her more susceptible to injury. This is usually true in workers’ compensation as well, in which the law holds an employer liable for work-related incidents or injuries that aggravate a pre-existing condition.

Of course, employers frequently question whether an injury truly “aggravated” the condition or whether the pre-existing condition itself is the sole cause of the employee’s current complaint. Unless there is some connection between the disabling condition and the on-the-job accident, the employer is not responsible for paying benefits to the claimant. The same is true in situations in which the worker’s ailment reverts back to the baseline condition.

Facts of the Case

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Those who are hurt on the job may not be able to return to their regular duties, either temporarily or permanently. This can affect the amount of benefits to which an injured employee in an Atlanta workers’ compensation case is entitled, so it is an important distinction.

From a monetary standpoint, the employer (or its insurance company) typically pays out a much smaller amount in benefits when an employee is able to go back to his or her regular job following a work injury. Thus, there is a substantial financial incentive to try to get an injured employee back on the job as soon as possible.

However, the employee may or may not be physically capable of performing the tasks that he or she did prior to the accident. Each situation is unique, and the issue of whether the employee made a meaningful return to pre-injury employment must be decided on the specific facts of each case. In addition, there is a specific process that must be followed when an employer wants to bring an injured employee back to modified duty work.

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construction workerIn handling a wide variety of Atlanta workers’ compensation cases, we hear many of the same questions over and over. One of those questions is, “Will I be fired if I report a work injury?”

The answer can be complicated. In Georgia, employees can be terminated legally for virtually any reason. Can you be fired for reporting a work injury? Yes, it happens all the time. Will you be fired if you report an on the job injury? Well, it depends. Different employers and managers have different policies on this issue that may or may not comply with State and Federal law. The better question is….what can be done to enforce the terminated employee’s rights given the circumstances of the firing?

Can I Be Legally Fired?