Pre-Existing Conditions in Workers’ Compensation Cases in Georgia ~ part two

accidental death wc content page nov 5This blog post is a continuation of my previous blog post titled, “Pre-Existing Conditions in Workers’ Compensation Cases in Georgia ~ part one.”

In Georgia, employers accept employees as they are so if an employee can establish that a new pain or injury exists that aggravates a Pre-Existing Condition and that said aggravation is the cause of the new injury or disability, then the employer may be required to reimburse and compensate the employee for medical bills and other incidental costs related thereto. Furthermore, the employer is not allowed to refuse medical treatment to an employee due to a prior condition that was either known or not known.

Although this is the established law in Georgia, many employers will try and deny Workers’ Compensation claims reasoning that the claim is based on a pre-existing condition and, therefore, the employee is not entitled to compensation as a result thereof. As a result, it is important to have competent, knowledgeable, and experienced legal counsel representing you so that you receive all of the just compensation that you deserve.

For example, thorough and accurate evaluations from your treating physician are imperative in establishing a winning claim and your attorney can be vital in obtaining these medical records and evaluations for you to establish that although you have a pre-existing medical condition that the new on the job injury is the condition that aggravated your pre-existing condition and, therefore, you are entitled to Workers’ Compensation Benefits. Furthermore, if your pre-existing condition is made worse by the on-the-job injury resulting in a permanent disability, then you need an attorney who can set forth a claim so that you are adequately and fully compensated under these circumstances.


Pre-Existing Conditions in Workers’ Compensation Cases in Georgia ~ part one

industry-1057585-mSince many jobs in Georgia involve different physical demands even if it is a job that involves extensive sitting and typing at a computer, it is no wonder that so many Workers’ Compensation Claims every year involve the issue of Pre-Existing Conditions. In order to understand how the Aggravation of a Pre-Existing Condition may have an impact on your Workers’ Compensation Benefits in Georgia, it is first important to understand what exactly is a Pre-Existing Condition.

As stated on the Workers’ Compensation sub-page on my website titled, “Pre-Existing Conditions,”, Pre-Existing Conditions can take many forms such as an illness that is chronic for example diabetes, a traumatic injury or receptive stress that is ongoing, and/or an injury that happened one time at work that had healed and then was reinjured on the job. What all of these conditions have in common is that they are medical issues that were in existence before the work injury that is the subject matter of the benefits that you may be currently filing for in a Workers’ Compensation Claim.

Now that we have established what a pre-existing condition is, it is important to understand how the law treats injuries in terms of Workers’ Compensation Claims and Benefits when a Pre-Existing Condition is involved. One of the most commonly asked question is, “What Happens if I, as an Employee, Re-Injure a Pre-Existing Condition or Injury?”


Appeals Court Finds Accident Compensable Based on Ingress and Egress Rule in Georgia Workers’ Compensation Case

DSC08478-B morguefile dodgertonskillhauseThe Georgia Court of Appeals has overturned a Georgia Board of Worker’s Compensation decision denying benefits to a deceased man’s family. In Bonner-Hill v. Southland Waste Systems, Inc., a man was tragically killed when his vehicle was struck by a train while he was driving over railroad tracks on his way to work. The man’s workplace is situated in such a way that anyone entering or exiting the premises is required to pass over the train tracks.

In response to the man’s death, the employee’s wife sought workers’ compensation benefits on behalf of herself and the couple’s three dependent children. The decedent’s employer argued that such benefits were not merited because the train accident did not occur while the man was at work.


A Fatal Shooting in Helen, Georgia has lead to a Wrongful Death Civil Suit and Asks some very Important Questions

autum park for blog dec 20On August 16 May Araim was in Helen, Georgia when she was shot and killed by a man who was sitting on the main street of the small Bravian-Style town on a bench.  The man, Glenn Lampien, who shot May Ariam, was charged with involuntary manslaughter and the fate of the criminal case has yet be determined.

In the meantime, the son of May Araim, Ammar Araim, has filed a Wrongful Death Civil Cause of Action in the Pickens County Superior Court where the Defendant Lampien resides. The case is Araim v. Lampien, No. 2014SUCV566.

Two of the main questions that the Plaintiff Araim in the civil action wants answered is whether or not the shooting was indeed an accident or not, and whether the Defendant was intoxicated to excess. The civil suit alleges that the Defendant Lampien was “highly intoxicated,” and “negligently discharged the handgun” while sitting on the bench when he shot May Araim.

May Araim was an Iraqi-American woman and she was walking down the street wearing a hijab along with two other women in her family who were also wearing hijabs. A hijab is a traditional Islamic head covering.

One of the questions that the family wants answered is simple in nature, yet very complex in theory and practice: Did the Defendant shoot the Victim as an Accident as he claims, or because of her Religion as displayed by her traditional dress of the hijab?  This is a question that the family has every right to have answered.

According to sources close the civil litigation, the family does not feel that the criminal charge of involuntary manslaughter will beg the question or the answer, nor does the punishment fit the crime if this was an intentional act. If convicted of the crime of an accidental shooting as alleged, then the Defendant would only face a sentence that is less than one half of the maximum sentence for a DUI death.

The civil action also names parties that may have served alcohol to Defendant Lampien which gives the case a Dram Shop element as well. I have discussed the legal theory of Dram Shop in Georgia in my prior blog posts about how the Dram Shop law in Georgia has now even extended to convenience stores.


A Slip and Fall in an Icy Parking Lot Yields a $ 700K Jury Verdict in Fulton County, Georgia for the Plaintiff ~ part two

parking lot with snow for dec 13 blogThis is a continuation of my blog post titled, “A Slip and Fall in an Icy Parking Lot Yields a $ 700K Jury Verdict in Fulton County, Georgia for the Plaintiff ~ part one.”

The Defendants Transwestern and Istar made several claims against Walden for failure to maintain the property properly under the circumstances and for failing to have proper insurance. It was disclosed in mediation that Walden did in fact fulfill its portion of its contractual duties to maintain the sidewalk and other walkways in the front of the building.

What was at question was whether or not Walden adequately maintained the parking spaces in the lot of the building. There were thousands of spaces to maintain, approximately 200,000, and it was Walden’s contention that it was able to maintain approximately one-half which would have been 100,000.

On November 17 the jury trial began in front of Judge Myra Dixon of the State Court of Fulton County, Georgia. What is interesting is that the Defendants had been vigorously fighting with each other the entire time prior to trial but when it came time to try the case they were no longer at each other’s throats but were actually complimentary to each other with how well the situation had been handled by each party under the circumstances. Nevertheless, the parties were again fighting by the end of the trial.


A Slip and Fall in an Icy Parking Lot Yields a $ 700K Jury Verdict in Fulton County, Georgia for the Plaintiff ~ part one

snow sign for december 10  blogOn December 15, 2010 outside the Perimeter by the Chattahoochee River in Georgia at an office complex the Plaintiff, Layla Bioys, was participating with her coworkers in a company event when it began to snow with sleet and freezing rain earlier that afternoon.

Since temperatures had been below or at freezing for the day, the on duty security officer spread the chemical melt ice on the parking lot and the walkways. At approximately 5:00 p.m. that day a management company official alerted the tenants in the building via. email of the bad weather and told them to remain on the pathways that had been duly treated with ice melt.

At approximately 6:00 p.m., the Plaintiff as well as others that had been in attendance for the meeting that day left the premises. However, when the Plaintiff was stepping off the sidewalk she began to slide. Even though she began to slide, she continued across the parking lot and then fell where there was a patch of black ice that she did not see.

Her fall resulted in a fracture of her ankle whereby she had to to undergo surgery for her injuries. Her surgery involved having screws and a steel plate placed in her ankle. She then had to have another surgery to remove the hardware from her body at a later date. Her total medical bills were approximately $ 60,000.

The parties were unable to resolve the issue so the Plaintiff filed a lawsuit in Fulton County Superior Court in Georgia in March of 2012 naming the management company, Transwestern, and the property owner, Istar,, Inc., as Defendants in the lawsuit. Both Transwestern and Istar placed the blame on the Plaintiff and the security company, Walden, who was in charge of placing the ice melt on the property, and, therefore, brought Walden into the lawsuit as a thirty-party Defendant.


A High-Low Agreement while the Jury Deliberates is Finalized resulting in a $ 875K Settlement in Favor of the Plaintiff in a Dental Malpractice Case in Fulton County, Georgia

dentist blog december 8 2014Imagine being 28 years old and going to the dentist for a relatively routine procedure to have a wisdom tooth extracted when instead the end result following the procedure is lifelong numbness and tingling, accompanied by continuous, unending excruciating pain in the lower part of your face and mouth. For Plaintiff Kerry Stolte this was more than something to be imagined, this was her reality after the Defendant Dentist M. James Fagan, III severed her lingual nerve during a dental procedure that was simply meant to remove her wisdom tooth.

Imagine further that after three (3) oral surgeries that have made your situation worse instead of better, approximately four (4) years of painstaking litigation, and two (2) lengthy jury trials that a video surveillance tape surfaces taken by the Defendant’s investigators showing you doing yard work that now creates an issue of whether or not you are a credible witness, and whether or not you should be impeached at trial which could potentially bar you from any recovery if seen in the wrong light by the jury.  All the while you are not relieved of the pain and suffering that you have endured for the past four (4) years that is most likely going to last for the rest of your life.

This was the scene in a Dental Malpractice Case in a Fulton County, Georgia Courtroom during a retrial of a Dental Malpractice case that began on September 22 when the defense presented said surveillance video of the Plaintiff. The Plaintiff did not take this evidence lightly, however, and understandably fought back by calling a Professor of said Defendant Dentist as a rebuttal witness to testify whether or not the procedure used by the dentist was taught by said Professor in dental school.

It became apparent that said procedure had not been taught in dental school since the said procedure was a high risk procedure and had the potential to cause the lingual nerve to be severed as was the case with this Plaintiff in this cause of action. In fact, it was further discovered that none of the witnesses had ever heard of a dental school teaching this particular procedure.

This discovery started such a heated debate that even after the defense raised several objections to the admissibility of this particular witnesses’ testimony that the Defendant Dentist took it upon himself to shout an obscenity in the courtroom. Fortunately for the Defendant, the obscenity was during a court recess and not during open court.


Defendant Neurosurgeon Prevails in Medical Malpractice Case Involving the Death of a Patient in 2004 ~ Video about the Case included herein

doctors for dec 3 blogIn April, 2004 now deceased Mark Kravitz was admitted to WellStar Cobb Hospital in Georgia to have surgery performed to relieve herniated discs on two (2) cervical vertebrae by fusion and discectomy to be performed by Defendant neurosurgeon Dr. Omar Jimenez. The surgery was a success.

After the surgery, however, Mr. Kravitz’s neck began to swell and the circumference of his neck was increasing. Dr. Jamienez ordered that Mr. Kravitz’s neck have an ice pack placed on it. Later he prescribed Mr. Kravitz a drug for nausea. It appeared that Mr. Kravitz was comfortably resting until, after several hours, he complained of neck pain and nausea. He was then given an anti-inflammatory.

Within fifteen minutes after the anti-inflammatory drug was given, Mr. Kravitz called for a nurse. The nurse noted that Mr. Kravitz was then short of breath and in distress. Despite being put on oxygen, Mr. Kravitz went into respiratory arrest and could not be revived.

At some time between the Mr. Kravitzs’ condition becoming worse and prior to his death, Mr. Kravitz was moved to the intensive care unit.

The Plaintiff made an offer to settle for $ 1 Million Dollars which was the policy limits of the Medical Malpractice Insurance Policy. Other than that, it is reported that there were no other discussions of settlement or even mediation.

In 2006, Mr. Kravitz’s widow, Chompok Kravitz, sued WellStar Health System, Dr. Jamenez, and Dr. Jamenez’s employer Georgia Spine and Brain in Fulton, Georgia State Court. The Plaintiff’s claim was that the nurses at WellStar Hospital were responsible as well as Dr. Jimenez and that something more should have been done such as an imaging study, a consultation, or the like.


As the Possibility of a Bad Faith Claim Lingers, an Accident involving a possible Fatigued Tractor-Trailer Driver Yields a $ 950,000 Settlement: $ 200,000 above Policy Limits

truck for dec 3 2014 blogOn February 19, 2012 the Plaintiff, Michael Gentis, was heading North on I-85 in his Honda Civic at Spaghetti Junction in Georgia when a truck merging from I-285 in front of him swerved out of control and jackknifed. The Plaintiff was not able to stop and subsequently crashed into the tractor-trailer.

The Plaintiff suffered a severe back injury whereby he required surgery and incurred $ 150,000 in medical bills. The case is Gentis v. Global Hawk, No. 13A46963-4.

Although the accident was clearly the truck drivers fault, the insurance company for the truck driver denied several demands from the Plaintiff for policy limits. Thereby exposing itself to potential bad faith claims that ultimately could have led to a judgement that exceeded the ultimate $ 950,000 settlement which was $ 200,000 over insurance policy limits.

Other factors that were in play in the case was the fact that tractor-trailer driver was cited for failure to maintain lane, there was speculation that driver fatigue may have played a role in the accident, later that evening the same driver was involved in another accident in the State of Virginia, and the driver did not speak proficient english which is a trucking law violation. Instead he relied upon an app on his cellphone to translate his language of Chinese to English.

All of these factors coupled with the clear liability on the truck drivers part should have led to at least a payment of policy limits in this case at the onset. Fortunately for the Defendant, the issues were not pushed to trial and the case ultimately settled for $ 200,000 over policy limits for a total of a $ 950,000 settlement.