There are many types of Georgia workers' compensation injuries. These can range from the typical back strain from lifting a heavy object, all the way to catastrophic injuries which prevent an injured worker from ever working again in the future. Today's post will discuss common work related injuries and how they are handled in Georgia's workers' compensation system.
Workers' compensation is a no fault system, so in general, as long as a worker is injured while performing their job the injury is covered.
A cumulative trauma injury is an injury that is not the result of a single accident, but occurs over time. A common type of cumulative trauma injury is carpal tunnel syndrome. Carpal tunnel syndrome generally occurs as a result of repetitive gripping, grasping, and use of your hands. A worker suffering from this type of injury generally does not notice any pain at first, but as they continue to to perform repetitive motions with certain body parts they begin to experience pain or numbness. These injuries can often be treated with rest or modified/light work activity, but may end up requiring surgical intervention. It is important that you report any type of pain or discomfort caused by any repetitive work, as a paper trail can assist in having your cumulative workers' compensation claim approved.
In Georgia, a catastrophic workers' compensation injury typically refers to a severe and life-altering injury. These injuries usually prevent an individual from ever being able to work again in the future. In Georgia, some injuries are automatically considered catastrophic. These include:
Additionally, any injury which would prevent someone from performing their past job, or any other job available in decent numbers, can be deemed "catastrophic." In addition to rehabilitation benefits not normally offered to an injured worker, individuals suffering a catastrophic injury are eligible to receive replacement income and medical benefits for the rest of their life. In contrast to the typical workers' compensation injury which has a 400 week limit on replacement income and medical benefits.
An occupational disease in Georgia, refers to a medical condition or illness that arises as a direct result of an employee's work or exposures in the workplace. These diseases are typically caused by prolonged or repeated exposure to hazardous conditions, substances, that are specific to the employee's job. For example, a fireman who develops asthma due to repeated smoke exposure. Occupational diseases may not manifest immediately but can develop over time due to cumulative exposure.
Common examples of occupational diseases in various industries include:
In Georgia's, for a disease to fall under the workers' compensation act, it generally needs to meet certain criteria, which may include:
As previously mentioned, Georgia's workers compensation law is considered a "no-fault" system. As long as the injury occurs while performing your job, then it is covered. This includes reinjuring or aggravating a pre-existing injury or condition. For example, say a worker injured their back 5 years ago and underwent surgery to repair the injury. After a course of rehab, the individual returns to work performing a lighter duty job for the next 5 years. Unfortunately, the worker injures their back again lifting a pallet at work. Under Georgia law, the employer/insurer is responsible for providing medical treatment that returns the injured worker back to the condition they were in before the latest back injury. In this case, the employer/insurer is responsible for providing medical treatment to the injured worker until the worker is capable of performing the light duty work which cause their latest back injury.
While most injuries that occur while working in Georgia are covered by workers' compensation, there are a few specific injuries which are barred. These include:
If you or a loved one has suffered a work injury in Georgia, give our lawyers a call at (770) 214-2500 for a free consultation.