Articles Posted in Workers’ Compensation

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It seems like an Atlanta workers’ compensation case should be fairly straightforward – if you get hurt at work, you get benefits, right?

Although workers’ compensation was designed to make things easier for employees who are injured on the job by taking the case out of the court system and providing for benefits that begin immediately after an injury or shortly thereafter, not every case is “easy.” Employers and their insurance companies may deny a claim based on one of several defenses available to them under the law, and, even if the claim is not denied, there may be disagreements about the nature and extent of the employee’s injury and vocational disability arising from it.

Which kinds of defenses do employers and insurance companies have in a workers’ compensation case?

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I was hurt at work. How long will it take for me to start receiving workers’ compensation benefits?

That depends. In an Atlanta workers’ compensation case in which your employer and its insurance company agree that your claim is compensable, medical benefits are available as soon as you report your injury (although you will have to follow the rules requiring you to see a company doctor). You will become eligible for temporary total disability (TTD) benefits to partially replace your lost income after you have been off work for seven days.

How much will I receive in temporary total disability payments?

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Q: I was hurt at work. Does my employer have to pay for my medical expenses?

A: This is a more complicated issue than it may initially seem. In an Atlanta workers’ compensation case, an employee may be entitled to paid medical care, but only if certain conditions are met, such as the employee giving the employer timely notice of the accident and seeing a physician who is authorized by the employer or its workers’ compensation carrier. 

Q: In my situation, I was hurt on the job a few weeks ago and immediately told my employer what happened. They sent me to the doctor, and everything seemed to be going fine until last week, when my doctor told me that I need surgery due to a herniated disc. My employer’s workers’ compensation carrier has refused to authorize the surgery. They say the surgery is related to a pre-existing condition – specifically, a previous work injury several years ago. To my knowledge, that old case was closed, and I didn’t receive anything other than temporary disability benefits and paid medical expenses for a few trips to the doctor back then. Is there anything I can do?

questionQ: I hurt my back at work today while attempting to move a heavy piece of equipment. I didn’t tell anyone at work about it because I didn’t think it was that serious. Now that I am home, however, my back pain has gotten much worse. What should I do?

A: The first step in any Atlanta workers’ compensation claim is to give notice to one’s employer. There is also a claim form (called a WC-14 form, available online through the State Board of Workers’ Compensation website) that must be submitted in order to formally protect an employee’s legal rights.

Q: What happens after I give my employer notice that I was hurt?

shutterstock_477151726-300x200An injured worker in an Atlanta workers’ compensation case may be entitled to several types of benefits, including paid medical care. Of course, what exactly that “medical care” may entail varies widely from case to case.

For some employees, especially those with permanently, totally disabling work-related injuries, “medical care” may include in-home care – either by family members, professional nurses, or a combination thereof.

Facts of the Case

childcare workerThe question of whether a given employer is required to have Georgia workers’ compensation insurance on its employees can vary from state to state. The general rule is that individuals, corporations, or other entities that employ three or more people are required to carry coverage.

Of course, not every employer that is required to have coverage complies with the law. When a worker is hurt on the job, the employer then must pay the employee’s medical expenses and other workers’ compensation benefits out-of-pocket.

Facts of the Case

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Workers who are hurt during the course and scope of their employment may be entitled to substantial compensation in the form of temporary or permanent disability payments, medical treatment, and other benefits. Although the injured employee is not required to prove that the employer was “at fault,” the worker does have certain obligations and must meet the statutory requirements in order to receive certain benefits.

Facts of the Case

A recent decision from the Georgia Board of Workers’ Compensation resolved a claim for temporary total disability (TTD) filed by a 41-year-old concrete trucker who was allegedly hurt in an accident on the job in June 2015. The defendant employer did not begin paying TTD benefits to the employee until March 2016, and he sought payment of benefits from the date of his injury up until the time the employer began paying him TTD benefits. The employee also asked the Board to require the employer to pay certain medical expenses for which it had denied responsibility.

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

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