Articles Posted in Workers’ Compensation

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

shutterstock_104939294-300x225
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

shutterstock_153623993-300x200
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

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

shutterstock_96495449-300x193
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

worker using saw

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.

Continue reading