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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.

 

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.

What now? Injured employees being laid off

Injured employees being laid off from Briggs & Stratton in McDonough, Georgia, may be entitled to workers’ compensation income benefits.  These workers will be classified in certain categories.  First, if injured Briggs & Stratton workers are “out of work” on “total disability” from a work-related accident or injury and they are receiving income benefits at the time of the lay off, those workers should continue to receive those benefits.  The closing of the McDonough plant will not change the status of the employee’s entitlement to benefits.  These benefits may be modified if the authorized treating physician releases the injured employee to “full duty” or “regular duty” work status.

Second, if the injured workers are on “light duty” work status at the time of the lay off, they are not automatically entitled workers’ compensation income benefits.  These workers have a burden to look for suitable light duty work after they have been laid off.  This job search must be “diligent” and sincere.   If the injured employee is not able to secure “suitable” employment elsewhere, the court must be able to “infer” that the former employee’s reason for being refused subsequent employment is due to the residual physical restrictions.  This analysis will be heavily fact sensitive and attorney should be consulted.

From a medical perspective, the plant closing should have no bearing on whether an injured worker is allowed to seek further treatment for his or her occupational injury.  The future medical care includes visits to the doctor, physical therapy, diagnostic centers, medication and mileage reimbursement.

The Employer, Briggs & Stratton, or any other company cannot contract around workers’ compensation.  For example, if an injured worker at Briggs and Stratton accepts a “severance package”, this contract will not contain waivers of the employee’s entitlement to workers’ compensation benefits.  Any waiver or release of workers’ compensation must be approved by the Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation by law and the employee should retain counsel to navigate him or her through this complicated process.

Living on workers’ compensation benefits?

Insurance companies and its advocates like to believe that people live well while on workers’ compensation benefits.  This is generally not true.

Workers’ Compensation Benefits are Capped

These workers’ compensation benefits are capped by law as to how much (more…)

Have you been fired because of your work injury?

In many instances, the Employer will literally add insult to your work injury by firing you because of your work injury.  Unfortunately, the workers’ compensation law does not address the topics of “wrongful termination” or unjust firings.  The primary analysis the State Board considers is whether (more…)

Can I be terminated while on workers’ compensation?

Sadly, some employees are terminated while on workers’ compensation.  Businesses are created to make money.  Sometimes, businesses treat employees like a piece of equipment.  If the piece of equipment is broken or not functioning, some businesses will simply replace the piece of equipment and move on.  Similarly, some workers who get injured on the job are handled in this fashion.  One (more…)

Weekly income benefits: average weekly wage, similar employees, and hourly wages

When an employee is missing time from work because of his or her workers’ compensation injury, the injured employee may be entitled to weekly income benefits.  The Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation  law provides that these weekly income benefits be paid at a certain rate. O.C.G.A. 34-9-260 and 261.  Essentially, the amount of workers’ compensation benefits depends on (more…)

How much per week will I get on Workers’ Compensation?

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How much you will receive per week on workers’ compensation is based on several factors. In the event an injured worker is unable to return to work because of her occupational accident, the law allows the injured employee to receive “indemnity benefits.” These benefits are tax free and are received on a weekly basis. The rate upon which these benefits are calculated is based upon the injured worker’s “average weekly wage” (AWW). To determine the AWW (more…)

Physical Therapy in Workers’ Compensation Claims

After a physical injury at work, the employer is required to furnish the injured employee medical benefits which include medical, surgical, psychological, and other related or derivative treatment at hospitals and physical therapy facilities.  See, O.C.G.A. §34-9-200(a).  The employer/insurer will be entitled to (more…)