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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…)

Guidelines for following up with the authorized treating doctor

Generally, the goal of the injured worker and the authorized treating physician should be the same:  to heal the patient.  Given the number of patients that “company doctors” see, it is important that the injured worker serve as his or her best advocate during the medical appointments.  At the Ramos Law Firm, we recommend that the injured employee attend all the scheduled medical visits without fail  However, if you legitimately cannot attend the appointment, notify the physician’s office immediately.  Do not simply “no show”.   Also, call if you are going to be late.   If the doctor or insurance company believes you are refusing medical care, then this may inhibit your entitlement to future care or other workers’ compensation benefits.

When you meet with the treating doctor, have a notebook and pen with you.  We recommend that you write down all your questions before the appointment and make sure you ask him or her for the answers.  As the doctor is answering, take notes as to what the doctor or nurse said in response to the questions.  Also, we recommend you use this “notebook” as your medical diary with relation to your workers’ compensation injuries.  Write down everything you think may be useful.  For example, write down the name of the doctor and nurse, the medical group, the address of the medical facility, parking charges, medication, the level of pain, symptoms or complaints made to the doctor or nurse, and the length of time the doctor spent with you.  These little bits of information may be tedious at first but it may prove to be crucial if there is a dispute down the road.

Additionally, we recommend that the injured worker attend with a trusted family member.  By doing this, it will hopefully cut down on misinterpreting the doctor’s and nurse’s instructions.  If English is not your first language and you prefer an interpreter to assist with the medical evaluation, ask for it.  Don’t be embarrassed or shy about it.  It is your health at stake. On the other hand, the Ramos Law Firm does not recommend you allow anyone from the insurance company attend your medical appointments.  This includes “nurse case managers” or “nurse consultants”.  These people are simply agents of the insurance company and their loyalties run to the insurance company, not the patient.  Remember, you must be actively engaged in your medical treatment as no one else is more qualified to speak about your health issues and complaints.

If you have any questions  about following up with the authorized treating doctors in Atlanta, Decatur, or anywhere in Georgia, please feel free to contact the Ramos Law Firm for a free consultation.

Employer and Employee IME basics in Georgia Workers’ Comp Claims

In many workers’ compensation cases, the injured worker, the employer, or insurance carrier may desire an “independent medical examination” or “second opinion.”   This generally occurs when the one of the parties is dissatisfied with the current physician’s diagnosis, prognosis, or care plan.  The Georgia Workers’ Compensation Act does provide (more…)

Mileage reimbursement, parking, and transportation / meals – housing under GA Work Comp

The price of gasoline and the stress of battling the Atlanta traffic to get your workers’ compensation medical appointment can add “insult to injury” in some cases.  In many cases, injured workers (more…)