September 22, 2019

Injured Atlanta Cops Fight Workers Comp System

A front page story in the Sunday, May 24, 2009 edition of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution details the struggle of five catastrophically injured Atlanta police officers to obtain needed medical help from the City of Atlanta’s workers’ compensation office.  Each of these police officers was injured in the line of duty – with injuries ranging from brain damage to paralysis arising from gunshot wounds to the spinal cord.

Like many city and county governments, the City of Atlanta “self-insures” against workers’ compensation claims, meaning that weekly wage benefits and funds for medical treatment come directly out of the City’s budget.  The City does use a private claim’s administration service called NovaPro Risk Solutions out of San Diego.

The City is not denying responsibility for paying wage or medical claims, but it has been refusing to pay for various medical procedures and medical devices.

In one instance a police officer who had been rendered a parapalegic from a gunshot wound needed surgery on his Achilles tendon  because his feet kept slipping off his wheelchair footrests. His treating physician and a second opinion physician both documented the need for surgery, but the City refused to pay for the procedure, and requested a hearing, causing several months delay and forcing the paralyzed officer to retain an attorney.

Five months later and just days before the hearing, the City finally backed down and authorized the surgery, but not before the injured officer developed pressure sores as a complication from the delay.

The City of Atlanta has financial issues and workers’ compensation cases involving governmental entities give rise to special problems.  The plight of the injured officers serves as a lesson about the Georgia workers compensation system in general.  If the City of Atlanta will not stand behind heroic police officers injured in the line of duty where there is a powerful union and an outlet for publicity to shame the City into doing the right thing, what kind of treatment do you expect if you are hurt on your job?

By its nature, Georgia’s workers’ compensation system operates within an adversarial system.  Your dedication, loyalty and hard work on behalf of your employer mean nothing if you are hurt on the job.  Insurance companies that writer workers comp policies are looking to save money whenever and wherever they can.  Employers are looking to save money on premiums and claims – especially claims involving extensive medical treatment and weekly wage benefits – result in higher insurance coverage costs.

Let the experience of the paralyzed and brain damaged Atlanta police officers show you that injured workers need knowledgeable and aggressive counsel to help you obtain quality medical care from competent physicians in a timely manner.  It may not be pleasant to view your workers’ compensation claim as a fight but this is how you must see it.

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Jodi Ginsberg

Attorney Jodi Ginsberg represents employees who are injured on the job and who need medical care and missed wage benefits available under Georgia's workers' compensation laws.

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