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The Injured Workers’ Saga: Back Injury

An injured worker who has suffered a back injury often undergoes a  back injuryseries of frustrating events before receiving the help they need.  After experiencing pain, workers may be directed to a Concentra, Urgent Care, or Choice Care in Atlanta or DeKalb County, and the practitioner may dismiss the worker with a “back strain or sprain.”  Hopefully, an x-ray will be done and the worker will be given some prescription medication.  However, the injured worker frequently remains in pain.  After a few days, the employee feels no choice but to go back to work. He may return to the clinic in hopes of having an MRI done.

If the MRI scan demonstrates a disc herniation, this means that there may be a tear in the outer ring of a spinal disc.  Generally, inflammation may occur and cause pain.  The symptoms may depend on the level where the herniation occurred and whether it is touching a nerve.  For example, a herniation in the low back may cause pain in the buttocks or down the injured worker’s legs.  Treatment for back pain may include physical therapy and potentially surgery.  It is important that injured workers understand their course of treatment and options.

Lost Income Due to Back Injury

If the employee’s pain is bad enough that he or she is losing time from work, he or she may be entitled to income benefits under the Georgia Workers’ Compensation Act, in addition to the medical treatment (provided at the expense of the Employer/Insurer).  There also may be a permanent impairment rating issued at some point in the life of the claim.

The employee tends to feel lost between the pain level, trying to maintain their life and navigate the workers comp claim. If you find yourself or someone you know in this position, have them contact our office for a consultation. We can help so that you can focus on getting better.

If you need some advice as to your rights under the workers’ compensation system, please contact our office at the Ramos Law Firm.

The Ramos Law Firm has been supporting Georgia’s workforce for nearly a decade, practicing 100% Workers’ Compensation. Visit our website and blog for trends and news affecting Georgia workers.

 

Atlanta Braves stadium: affect on the construction industry in Georgia

Residents of Cobb County Georgia are bracing themselves for months of navigating construction sites in the area of the new Atlanta Braves stadium and proposed mixed-use project. What’s called a “live-play-work” district will incorporate office space, retail and restaurant marietta_construction siteestablishments, and residential housing. Mixed-use developments are becoming increasingly popular in Georgia as is evidenced by Atlantic Station in Atlanta and Avalon in Alpharetta. The Braves stadium construction is expected to have a positive affect on the construction industry as a whole in Georgia.

The new Braves stadium is a $622 million dollar project in and of itself.  Stadium construction will be led by a group of contractors, including Mortenson Construction, Brasfield & Gorrie, Barton Marlow and New South Construction.

The construction industry rose 5% in Georgia from 2013 to 2014, even before this project got underway.

The Ramos Law Firm has been supporting construction Georgia’s workforce, including construction workers for nearly a decade, practicing 100% Workers’ Compensation. Visit our website and blog for trends and news affecting Georgia workers.

Important Deadlines in Workers’ Compensation Cases

If you’ve been injured on the job, there are several steps you need to take immediately in order to ensure the best outcome after your injury:
First, report the incident to your supervisor. Failure to report the accident within 30 days can jeopardize your benefits. (O.C.G.A. § 34-9-80). Your employer will likely ask you to fill out paperwork detailing the incident, and will conduct an investigation. It’s in your best interest for your company to conduct a thorough and timely investigation, providing all parties with the facts we need to manage your case.
Make sure to inform your employer if anyone witnessed the accident. Ask the witness to provide a written statement if possible.
Secondly, it is also important to hire an attorney in a timely manner, shortly following the accident. This is understandably difficult for most injured workers. In addition to oftentimes painful and debilitating injury, they are dealing with loss of income and perhaps family needs. If necessary, recruit help from a friend, family member or trusted co-worker to ensure you have the information you need to sign paperwork and authorize a client-attorney relationship. Your lawyer can’t help you until you establish an agreement to work together.
The next general deadline to be mindful of is filing your claim with the state of Georgia- required within one year of the injury or the last medical treatment furnished by the employer/insurer. (O.C.G.A. § 34-9-81). Your lawyer can assist you with the WC-14 form, required by the State Board.
If your benefits have been suspended and your condition changes for the worse, there’s another deadline you need to be mindful of: you must file a request for recommencement within two (2) years from the date of last payment of income benefits. (O.C.G.A. § 34-9-104).
Lastly, if you are filing a permanent partial disability claim, you have four (4) years to file the claim from the date of your last payment of income benefits.
In short, if you’re injured on the job: timing is everything! Call the Ramos Law Firm now to stay on top of these essential deadlines.
The Ramos Law Firm has been supporting Georgia’s workforce for nearly a decade, practicing 100% Workers’ Compensation. Visit our website and blog for trends and news affecting Georgia workers.

Are Seasonal Employees Eligible for Workers’ Compensation?

2015 Happy New Year Strands Line Glow Dark BackgroundThe Ramos Law Firm wishes everyone a Happy 2015! We know that the holidays are a busy time for Georgia’s workforce- especially retail workers. The uptick in sales during the Christmas season prompted many Atlanta employers to plan ahead and hire seasonal employees to help with retail sales, temporary merchandise set-up, inventory stocking and other jobs. Heavy consumer traffic in stores often leads to rushed, exhausted employees. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon to see an increase in job-related injuries among seasonal employees during the hustle and bustle of the holidays.  Injured workers may question whether the Georgia workers’ compensation laws cover seasonal employees. It does.  Seasonal or temporary employees are covered under Georgia’s workers’ compensation law- just as any other employee in the service of an entity.

See O.C.G.A. 34-9-1(2).

Under the Georgia Workers’ Compensation Act, the term, “employee,” is extremely broadly construed.  The law contemplates all those who are hired by another.  Generally, the employer in question must have at least three employees.  The law includes the following as “employees”:   (1) minors; (2) all fire and police persons; (3) full –time county employees; (4) elected county officers; (5) employees of county health agencies; (6) Georgia National Guard members on orders by the Governor.  Specifically excluded are farm laborers, domestic servants, inmates, and folks working as independent contractors.

The Ramos Law Firm has represented seasonal employees in the DeKalb and Fulton counties.  These workers were employed by Target, Open-retailNeiman Marcus, Wal-Mart, and other stores in the Greater-Atlanta area.  If you have been injured on the job, we recommend you report the injury to the person in charge or supervisor and seek immediate medical attention.  Generally, the employer will have a list of physicians you can choose from.  Ask for that list.  If the Employer does not have a list, do not let that stop you from getting medical attention.

Start the New Year out right. Pay attention to your health. And call the Ramos Law Firm if you have been injured on-the-job and need help recovering your costs.

The Ramos Law Firm has been supporting Georgia’s workforce for nearly a decade, practicing 100% Workers’ Compensation. Visit our website and blog for trends and news affecting Georgia workers. Call us at 404-355-3431.

 

 

 

 

I was injured at the company Christmas Party. Am I eligible for benefits?

Under the Georgia Workers’ Compensation Act, accidental injuries occurring while the employee is participating in a company sponsored event, such as the company Christmas party, is compensable under one of the following conditions:

(1) The injury occurred on the premises as a regular incident of employment;

(2) The event is required by the employer: either expressly or implicitly; or

(3) The employer obtains substantial or direct benefits from the event or activity. (Beyond the intangible value of improving company morale.)

If the employee was injured due to intoxication, horseplay, or other willful misconduct, the employer has cause to combat the validity of the case. It will be a very fact-sensitive analysis that will determine whether the employee can recover benefits.

If you have been injured, report the incident to your supervisor. Failure to report the accident within 30 days can jeopardize your benefits. (O.C.G.A. § 34-9-80).  Your employer will likely ask you to fill out paperwork detailing the incident, and will conduct an investigation. It’s in your best interest for your company to conduct a thorough and timely investigation, providing all parties with the facts we need to manage your case.

If you’ve been injured at your company Christmas party or other company-sponsored event, and need your case evaluated, please call The Ramos Law Firm for a free consultation. (404)355-3431.

The Ramos Law Firm has been supporting Georgia’s workforce for nearly a decade, practicing 100% Workers’ Compensation. Visit our website and blog for trends and news affecting Georgia workers.

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and Happy Holidays

Happy holidays

The Ramos Law Firm wishes all of our clients, friends and families, a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and the best wishes and wellness for the new year.

What is the job outlook for skilled workers in Georgia?

A recent job outlook report is good news for skilled workers looking for jobs in the state of Georgia: the growing demand for workers is apparently out-pacing the number of skilled laborers looking for work. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the Georgia High Demand Career Initiative Report released recently, there’s plenty of room in this state for skilled workers.

Reports indicate over 38,000 job postings for manufacturing jobs and about 29,000 active candidates. The AJC reports in Atlanta alone there are 1,000 more manufacturing openings than job seekers.

The trucking industry is also on the re-bound in Georgia, with the American Trucking Association predicting the need for 96,000 new drivers annually to meet demand.

Construction is Georgia is also on the rise, with a 5% increase in jobs from September 2013 to the same month in 2014. A massive project to build a multi-use “live, play, work” district in conjunction with the Atlanta Braves new stadium is putting Marietta, Georgia on the map for developers and construction firms.

In short, Georgia is the place to be for skilled laborers right now.

The Ramos Law Firm has been supporting Georgia’s workforce for nearly a decade, practicing 100% Workers’ Compensation. Visit our website and blog for trends and news affecting Georgia workers.

Delayed workers compensation hearing

It is not uncommon for a hearing to be reset three or even four times depending on the complexity of the case.  However, the injured workers’ attorney will likely contest any continuances or resets if he or she believes the Employer or Insurance company is attempting to take advantage of the Claimant’s condition or is simply delaying the injured worker’s day in court.

Board Rule 102 (C) provides that if a hearing is set for the first time and all parties agree to reset the hearing, a postponement will be granted without permission from the presiding Administrative Law Judge.  The parties would simply notify the ALJ that the parties agree to the continuance.  However, if one party objects to the continuance on the first setting, then judicial intervention would be necessary.  Generally, the attorneys would have a conference call with the presiding ALJ to determine whether a continuance would be justified.  As an unwritten rule of thumb, the first setting is usually continued in order to take discovery and to complete the parties’ investigation.  The second and third settings will likely be more scrutinized and a continuance will be granted only on “strict legal grounds.”

 

The settlement they offered me was too low

We often get calls from potential clients stating that they have been offered a settlement and they feel it was too low. There are a number of reasons the caller may feel this way. The most obvious reason is that it is too low. The insurance company wants to settle the claim and move on. They are not concerned with how you will live or what kind of lifestyle you will have after settlement. Another reason may be that injured parties often feel there should be compensation for their pain and suffering. Unfortunately, in workers’ compensation there is no value for pain and suffering and that will not equate to a monetary payment.

The value of a workers’ compensation claim comes from where the medical leads the file. If an approved workers’ compensation doctor has you out of work then weekly benefits may be owed. When that doctor puts you back to work he may assign you an impairment rating and that will factor into the value of your claim. You may also need continued medical care, even if that is only a few times a year. That will also go into the value of your claim but it will be based off of the Georgia workers’ compensation fee scheduled price.

If you have questions about your workers’ compensation claim, please call us today and let us help. 404-355-3431

2014 Revised Board Rules and Forms

On July 1, 2014, the State Board of Workers’ Compensation provided a modification of its Board Rules and Forms.

The following is a summary of the changes:

Rule 40 was amended to add the address of the new Gainesville office.

Changes to Rule 61—Descriptions of Forms

Form WC-20(a). This amendment provides that the new 1500 Claim Form may be used in lieu of Form WC-20(a). The 1500 Claim Form replaces the obsolete HFCA Claim Form. Same change is made to Rule 205.

Forms WC-226 (a) and (b). The words “conservatorship and conservator” replaces “guardianship and guardian” to be consistent with O.C.G.A. § 34-9-226.

New Form Rehab Objection is added to be used by any party who has an objection to a rehabilitation issue.

Rules applicable to practice before the Board

Rule 102(A) (1). The reference to Rule1-203 of the State Bar Rules was deleted as that Rule is no longer a part of the Bar Rules. However, the current State Bar Rules or as hereafter amended are controlling as to practice before the Board.

Failure to comply with Document Production specified in Form WC-102.

Rule 102(F) was amended to specifically provide that a party or attorney who fails to comply with the document production specified in Form 102, and who is unable to show good cause for such failure, may be subject to civil penalties and /or assessed attorney’s fees.

Peer Review

Rule 203 (c) (2). Two new peer review groups have been added: Dane Street and Exam Works.

Parties at Interest

Rule 206 (c) was amended to clarify that the Board will provide notice to a party at interest of any hearing at which the party at interest will be permitted to present evidence of its claimed interest.

Objections to Advances

Rule 222 (b) (2) was amended to provide that objections to applications for lump sum advances shall be submitted on Form WC-25.