Workers’ Compensation in Georgia: How to Maintain Safety on the Job

workman-sign-1003297-mIn order to have a safe work environment, it is important to start with having the proper safety procedures in place in the working environment.  It is then important that employees are properly trained about hazardous conditions in the workplace and how to maintain safety in the workplace.  Finally, it is important that the employees use the tools given to them from their employer and if the employee seeks additional information, then the employee can ask the employer for more guidance and/or the employee can seek guidance from the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA).

Many companies have strict safety standards that go above and beyond OSHA’s basic safety standards,  If, however, an employee notices hazards in the workplace and/or that proper safety protocol is not being followed, then OSHA gives the employee an avenue to notify the employer through OSHA, and the employee may also have her/his name kept confidential if he/she so desires.

According to OSHA, “Each year approximately 6,000 employees in this country die from workplace injuries while another 50,000 die from illnesses caused by exposure to workplace hazards.  In addition, 6 million workers suffer non-fatal workplace injuries.”  To help prevent exposure to workplace safety and health hazards, both the employer and the employee must comply with all OSHA requirements applicable and specific to that industry.  As stated above, in order to avoid accidents and hazards in the workplace it is imperative that the employer maintain a safe working environment for all employees through the employers own actions and through proper training to its employees on workplace hazards as well as workplace safety.


Workers’ Compensation in Atlanta, Georgia: Top Ten Accidents on the Job

sparks-1184243-mInjuries from work related accidents can stop the flow of income needed to support a family so be sure that you contact a qualified Workers’ Compensation Attorney in Atlanta, Georgia to assist you as soon as you have been injured on the job, or if a loved one has been tragically killed on the job.  It is also important to gather as much information about your Workers’ Compensation Claim in Georgia to assist your Workers’ Compensation attorney in helping you get the most they can to compensate you, or a loved one, for an injury on the job.

According to the United States Department of Labor (DOL), the following are the most common injuries on job:

1. Strain or Overexertion can cause a disability or even death on the job such as a death that is brought on by overexertion while an employee is working.  This type of injury can happen immediately or it can be the type of injury or disability that happened at some point on the job but the employee does not exhibit symptoms until much later and the injury, disability, or death may still be covered under Georgia’s Workers’ Compensation Laws. Electrical shock is a good example of a work related injury that can result in disability or even death much later from the workers actual time of the shock.

The most common examples of these types of injuries include, but are not limited to, factory workers, construction workers, and any job that demands physical labor. Furthermore, employers who are in a hurry or rushing employees can result in unsafe working conditions that may cause strain or overexertion.

2. Slip and Fall accidents from workers slipping on wet floors in the work place can result in permeant injuries that should not be dismissed as the employees’ fault. Employees that are injured on the job while working because of poor lighting and unsafe work areas may also be compensated for on the job injuries under current laws in Georgia that cover the injured worker.

3. Falling Down Stairs or Off of a Ladder can result in a serious on the job injury. Other examples of accidents that can cause serious, permanent, and even fatal injuries on the job are construction workers falling from a multilevel building, roofers falling or slipping off a roof, and teachers falling down stairs. Calling a Georgia Workers’ Compensation Lawyer immediately following your accident can help to prevent lost wages or losing other assets as a result of lost wages or time away from work.


Georgia Nurse Receives Temporary Disability Workers’ Compensation Benefits for Shoulder Strain Suffered at Work

65899_hospital_bed_2 sxchuAn administrative law judge (“ALJ”) for the Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation has ordered an employer to pay temporary total disability benefits to a nurse who was hurt while performing her job duties. In Case No. 2014-007345, a Charlton County employer requested a hearing to determine whether an employee was entitled to receive workers’ compensation benefits for the injuries she allegedly sustained in a workplace accident. Although the employer was mailed a notice pursuant to the requirements of Georgia law, the employer failed to enter an appearance at the hearing. After reviewing the evidence offered by the worker, the ALJ issued his findings of fact and conclusions of law.

According to the ALJ, the worker’s testimony established that her employer had seven or more employees. Because of this, the employer was subject to the Georgia Workers’ Compensation Act. After determining that he had jurisdiction to review the case, the ALJ noted that venue was also proper. Next, the ALJ found that the injured worker successfully established she was employed as a licensed practical nurse, earning approximately $722 per week from the employer at the time of the alleged incident.


An Injured Employee is Awarded $ 2.58 Million Dollars in an Unusual Injury Case in Georgia

love-under-cannon-1395190-mA Railroad Worker for Railserve, Inc., Plaintiff Colby Hines, age 28 years old, and some of his fellow employees were drinking beer after work when Hines and his fellow employees, and possibly a supervisor or two, decided to make a potato cannon. A potato cannon is a make shift bomb made of beer cans, potatoes, and other items that act as projectiles.

The potato cannon was then detonated and, although Plaintiff Hines was on a fire escape 75 feet away from the cannon in an effort to video record the event, he was struck by shrapnel when the cannon malfunctioned and shrapnel travelled through the yard ultimately hitting Plaintiff Hines.  Hines was left with a severe and catastrophic brain injury leaving him with aphasia making it impossible for Hines to name things or retrieve words, and he now has seizures and does not have peripheral vision.

There were several issues at play during this case. One was a jurisdictional issue since the injury took place in Kansas yet the employer company, Railserve, Inc., was based in Georgia.  The case was brought in Clayton County, Georgia, State Court.  Upon a motion for summary judgement brought by the Defendant, Judge John Carbo, III granted summary judgement in favor of the Defendant Employer Railserve, Inc.

The Plaintiff Hines then appealed to the Georgia Court of Appeals.  Georgia Court of Appeals Judge Andrews was adamant that Plaintiff Hines was not entitled to any recovery based on Judge Andrew’s belief that Plaintiff Hines was the “sole proximate cause of his own injuries,” and Judge Andrews held firm in this belief despite the fact that there was evidence that Railserve was negligent by not supervising the premises.  Nevertheless, the Court of Appeals of Georgia reversed the summary judgement decision in favor of Railserve, Inc. and the case was subsequently tried by a jury in Clayton County State Court.


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.


Georgia Supreme Court Holds State Workers’ Compensation Act Does Not Violate U.S. Constitution

IMG_5451_vert morguefile usename revwarheartThe Supreme Court of Georgia has held that a non-dependent parent may not collect benefits under the Georgia Workers’ Compensation Statute. In Barzey v. City of Cuthbert, an unmarried 37-year-old man with no dependents was tragically killed in a workplace accident. His mother and only heir at law filed a lawsuit against the man’s employer, seeking to collect benefits under the state’s Workers’ Compensation Act. In her complaint, the woman acknowledged that the law is the only avenue through which a Georgia worker’s heir may collect financial compensation following a work-related death.

Under the Act, benefits are only paid to the dependents of an employee who is killed at work during his or her dependency. If the decedent leaves no dependents, the law states only reasonable funeral expenses may be recovered from an employer. Since the language of the statute barred the decedent’s mother from collecting financial compensation for his death, she claimed the act violated her due process and equal protection rights under the United States Constitution.


Georgia High Court Holds Statutory Penalty is Time-Barred in Workers’ Compensation Case

file1521271603232 morguefile duboixThe Supreme Court of Georgia has found that an injured employee waited too long to request statutory penalties in a workers’ compensation case. In Marta v. Reid, an individual filed a workers’ compensation claim following a workplace injury that occurred in October 1999. Soon afterward, his employer began paying him total disability benefits. Eventually, the payments ceased when the employee returned to work. Apparently, 12 of the 32 disability payments the man received were untimely under the Georgia workers’ compensation statute. About eight years after the man returned to work, the employee demanded that his employer pay him statutory penalties for the untimely payments. His employer asserted that the man’s claim was time-barred and refused to remit the requested funds to the worker.

Next, the worker requested a hearing regarding the statutory penalties he felt he was owed before an administrative law judge (“ALJ”). At the hearing, the ALJ found that the worker’s statutory penalty claim was a change in condition that was barred by the two-year statute of limitations included in OCGA § 34-9-104. The State Board and the Superior Court later agreed. The Georgia Court of Appeals, however, reversed the ALJ’s decision and held that the worker’s claim was not subject to a statute of limitations. In response, the employer asked the Georgia Supreme Court to review the case.


75 or more Center for Disease Control (CDC) Workers in Georgia were Exposed to Anthrax: CDC states that their own protocols were not followed in the incident

toxic for blog june 20 2014Approximately 75 or more workers at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention may have been exposed to anthrax bacteria due to a safety problem in a lab, WSB TV reports citing an Associated Press story. This happened as a result of Anthrax bacteria that was not properly inactivated and moved to a lab with lesser biosafety measures that were not designed to handle such samples, the Centers for Disease Control and Preventions says.

The workers assumed the samples were inactive and, therefore, didn’t wear adequate safety gear while handling them causing the workers to be exposed to the potentially dangerous bacteria. When anthrax spores get inside the body, they can be “activated,” according to the CDC website and when this activation occurs the bacteria may multiply, spread into other parts of the body, produce poisons, and eventually cause severe illness.

The problem was discovered last Friday, when live anthrax bacteria were found on some materials being gathered for disposal.  Agency officials said the staff members are being monitored or given antibiotics as a precaution against exposure to the disease-causing bacteria. Fortunately, there is no risk of exposure for other CDC staff, family members or the general public, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution says. Furthermore, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials plan to review safety protocol with all employees since the agency’s own protocols were not followed in this situation.

This is a classic case of a Worker’s Compensation Claim. Worker’s Compensation Claims exist when an employee is injured on the job regardless of fault.  In this case, it was clearly the fault of the employer and the employer has acknowledged that it did not even follow its own procedures leading to this potentially tragic incident.