April 1, 2020

How to Protect Yourself if Workers Compensation Sends You to an Industrial Clinic Doctor

What should you do if your employer’s posted panel of physicians only includes industrial clinic doctors?

Georgia law gives your employer the right to choose where you get medical care if you are hurt on the job. We may be able to get you to a different doctor down the road but in most cases the first doctor you will see will be one that appears on a “posted panel” of doctors that should be located in a break room or other central location.

Frequently, your employer’s insurance company will give your employer the names of doctors they want for the posted panel. Why? Because insurance companies want you to treat with doctors who are less likely to take you out of work, who will not order expensive tests and who will report their findings directly to a nurse case manager or directly the insurance adjuster.

Just because a physician has an M.D. after his name does not mean that the doctor has your best interests at heart. [Read more…]

How to Protect Yourself from False Information About Your Workers’ Compensation Claim

You would not believe some of the outrageous statements made to my clients from their supervisors after reporting a work injury:

  • “Workers compensation only covers back injuries” (no, it covers any injury part of your body)
  • “you must report your on the job injury within 3 hours” (no, you have 30 days to report your injury)
  • “it doesn’t matter that you were unconscious/disoriented due to a concussion/in an ambulance – whatever you said or didn’t say immediately after your accident controls what you can pursue under workers comp” (no, you are not bound by statements made when you are not in your right mind)

This is just a taste of the misinformation I have heard about over the past 30 years.

The truth is that workers’ compensation in Georgia is extremely adversarial. Other than divorce law, I doubt that any area of the law is a bruising and contested as work injury law. [Read more…]

How to Avoid Potential Problems Common to Work Injury Cases Filed by Delivery Drivers

Online shopping is obviously huge business and the growth of e-commerce also means that more people are employed as delivery drivers. Companies like Amex and Walmart operate delivery vans and trucks in every major city in Georgia and delivery companies like UPS, FedEx and DHL operate trucks that service businesses and residences throughout the state.

I have represented and currently represent many delivery drivers who have incurred injuries while making deliveries.

Many of my delivery driver clients have back and knee injuries that arise from lifting and carrying heavy packages, or falling when climbing on or off a truck.

Surprisingly, I have also represented a number of clients who were injured trying to avoid a guard dog or even a family pet who did not appreciate a stranger within their territory.

Avoid Potential Traps

Regardless of how you were hurt, or whether you hurt your neck, back, knees, ankles, hands or feet, you do need to be aware of potential traps when pursuing a claim under the Georgia workers’ compensation law. [Read more…]

What Should You Do if Your Employer Ignores Your Work Injury Claim?

What should you do if your employer takes no action whatsoever after you report a work injury?

Believe it or not, I see this situation frequently.  I get calls every week from injured workers who say “Jodi, I hurt my back at work and I reported the injury to my supervisor but nothing is happening.  Every time I tell my boss that my back is killing me, he says that they are ‘working on’ my claim.  Several weeks have gone by and I don’t know what to do.”

I think that in many ways, being ignored is worse than being denied.  At least you know where you stand if your employer controverts your claim even if your work injury claim is legitimate.

But having your on-the-job injury claim ignored is not acceptable either.  First, you can’t be sure that your employer has reported your claim to the Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation.  If your claim is never officially reported (within one year of your injury) you can lose all of your rights.

Second, Georgia law says that you have 30 days to report your work injury claim to your employer.  If they are doing nothing, they may very well claim that you never reported your injury.  This is why I always advise my clients to report their injuries in writing and to ask for a written confirmation of the report. [Read more…]

Why Would my Employer Deny my Legitimate Injury Claim?

I have written a lot on this blog about how strategies you and your lawyer can use to fight insurance company delays, refusal to authorize needed medical treatment and refusal to start weekly wage benefits.

You may be wondering why your employer – and by extension, their insurance company would fight you on a work injury claim that was witnessed and where even the posted panel doctor agrees that your injury arose from your job?

Isn’t there some sort of “good faith” requirement that insurance companies need to meet? And beyond that, what benefit accrues to the insurance company if their delays result in more needed medical treatment and more off-work status for you? [Read more…]

Can You Collect Workers’ Compensation Benefits if You Were at Fault in your Work Accident

Would you be surprised to learn that you are eligible to pursue workers’ compensation benefits in Georgia cases even if you were at fault in the accident?

Workers’ compensation law in Georgia is considered a “no fault” system, meaning that you are covered even if your injuries arose from your own negligence.  Under Georgia law, you are automatically covered by workers’ compensation is your injury arose out of and in the course of your employment.  This idea that in order to be covered you need to be acting for the benefit of your employer is common in workers compensation statutes in many states – for example in North Carolina the work injury law asks if your employer exercise control and direction over your work?

Examples:

  • a forklift driver turns too late and knocks over a scaffolding, causing boxes to fall on him, resulting in a broken arm and a closed head injury.  The forklift driver is eligible for benefits.
  • an industrial sewing machine operator gets distracted and loses a finger to a cutting knife.  The machine operator can pursue workers’ comp. benefits
  • a backhoe operator fails to properly park his machine and he gets run over when trying to exit the cab.  The backhoe operator is covered.

While you are eligible for workers’ compensation benefits even if you were at fault, you can be denied if your injury was the result of “horseplay.” [Read more…]

How to Combat Insurance Company Delay Tactics and Refusal to Authorize Medical Treatment

What can you do if your treating doctor wants to refer you to a specialist, or tries to order an MRI or CT scan, but the workers’ compensation insurance company refuses to authorize this needed treatment?
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Under Georgia workers’ compensation law, if you are receiving care from a “authorized treating physician” and that authorized physician refers you to a specialist, the referred doctor is supposed to be authorized automatically.

Similarly, if an authorized treating physician writes an order for an MRI, CT or other diagnostic test, that test should also be authorized.

What we are finding, however, is that when the referred doctor or the medical testing center calls the insurance company to verify that they will be paid, the insurance adjustor may say “no.” And of course, if a medical provider or testing center does not have a source of payment, they will not provide treatment to you. [Read more…]