Work-related back injury

Back Injury at Work: A Global Overview

What is the most common back injury at work?

Most common back injuries and spinal injuries include sprains and strains, herniated discs, bulging discs, annular tears, sacroiliac joint strain and fractured vertebrae.

Initially, treatment typically consists of conservative measures such as medications, ice, activity modification and physical therapy. If these initial treatments are unsuccessful, injections may be recommended in the form of facet block, trigger point, epidural steroid injections, or even injections under fluoroscopy.

If these methods are not successful and the pain and disability continue, surgery may be recommended. The most common surgeries we see are discectomies and/or surgical lumbar fusions.

If you need medical treatment, it is important to know that you have a personalized team at Allen Turner Law who will stand with you every step of the way.

What should I do if I incur a back injury at work?

Your back is made of bones, muscles, and other tissues that extend from your neck to your pelvis. If you have a back injury or spinal injury and need legal advice, please contact us at Allen Turner Law.

Two Drivers Arguing After Traffic Accident

After a Car Accident

What should I do after any kind of accident?

If course, if you’re hurt, go to the hospital, urgent care or go see a doctor. It is important that you do not delay medical treatment. Often insurance companies assume, if you don’t see a doctor right away, you are not truly injured. When you see a health care professional, it is critically important that you tell them exactly what happened. The medical history you give should be repeated each and every time you see a new health care professional. In addition, try to get as much documentation from the treatment provider as you can. Take photos of whatever caused your injuries. Next, you should complete an accident report if you are at a place of business when you are injured. It is wise to make notes of any witnesses that may be needed at a later time in the claim process.

What should I do after a car accident?

Make sure the police officer hears your side. Make note of any witnesses around and get phone numbers. Do not depend on the police officer to do this. You may need them later. If you are injured, go to the hospital either by EMS or your own transportation that day. Make sure to tell the doctors how you were injured. Tell the doctors about any prior injuries if the same body part is involved. You should try to get photos of your car before it is repaired as well as pictures of any injuries to you or your passengers. Pictures of lacerations, bruising and other injuries are very helpful in the settlement process or at trial when trying to prove damages for pain and suffering.

If the other driver gets a ticket, should I go to court?

Discuss this with us. Generally, yes because if you don’t go, the traffic court judge may dismiss the ticket. Your appearance in court means that the other driver will have to admit fault or testify about what happened so the judge can make a decision. In any case, the other driver’s statements may be very important to the case later.

What if the police officer places me at fault?

Liability is important. Only in certain circumstances can the police officer’s determination of fault be used against you. Of course, it can be difficult to resolve cases where you are placed at fault, but it is certainly not impossible.

Should I speak to the insurance company?

Frankly, no. In most cases, the insurance company has one goal: that is to either deny your claim or pay you as little as possible. Taking recorded statements is one of their tools to try and get information they can use against you. You should speak to an attorney at Allen Turner Law before giving any statements to insurance companies.

How is my car repaired after a car accident?

Usually, you have two choices. You can either have your own insurance company fix it and be subject to your deductible. They will then go to the other driver’s insurance company and collect the money they spent plus your deductible (which will then be reimbursed to you). Or, you can let the other person’s insurance company fix your car. Many times it is quicker to let yours take care of the damage to your car.

Am I supposed to get a rental car?

If you are without your car because it is being fixed, the law allows you to be compensated for loss of use. This can be accomplished by either giving you a rental or sometimes by paying you what a rental would have cost for the time you were without your car, known as “loss of use”. There are limits on the time you can keep a rental if your car is totaled.

Who pays my medical bills after a car accident?

This can get complicated. If you carry Medical Payments coverage (MedPay), you may be able to be reimbursed for some of your medical expenses through your Med Pay coverage. You can also use your health insurance. If you do use your health insurance, most of the time, you will be asked to pay them back if you recover money on your claim (known as subrogation), however, depending on the language in your contract with your health insurer, you may not be required to pay them back. If you can’t afford medical treatment, certain doctors may agree to treat you without asking for money up front. In order to try and do that, the doctor would need to know there is no dispute as to fault and that there is enough insurance coverage to pay the bill. You need an attorney, such as the attorneys at Allen Turner Law, to navigate these confusing issues and make all of your available coverages work together in your best interest.

What can I recover monetarily after a car accident?

In general, victims of a car accident can recover the cost of medical bills, lost wages and something more for pain and mental anguish. These are what are called compensatory damages. They are meant to compensate you for what you lost. In some circumstances, you may be able to collect punitive damages. These are punishment damages that may apply when the other person’s conduct was willful or reckless.

Will I have to go to court after a car accident?

Most car accident cases settle without having to go to court. If your case does not settle the lawyers at Allen Turner Law are fully prepared to take your case to trial and stay by your side each step of the way.

Who pays the claim? Is it the person that hurt me?

No. Insurance companies pay these claims. Our court rules don’t allow us to mention auto insurance in court. Some people feel it is dishonest to tell a jury they are there to decide how much this person pays that person when the insurance company is making all of the decisions and paying the claim. Insurance company lawyers like to hide behind their clients and make it seem like the at-fault driver couldn’t possibly afford to pay for what he/she caused. These are old tricks. Experienced lawyers know how to deal with the tricks without problem.

If I get hurt on the job, who do I tell?

The law requires anyone hurt on the job to notify their employer (supervisor) right away. If you or a family member is injured too severely to give notice, make sure someone tells a supervisor as soon as possible. Failing to give notice may eliminate your ability to pursue a work-related injury.

If I get hurt on the job, do I need a lawyer?

Think of it this way…the insurance company is going to have their own lawyers working against you. Worker’s Compensation laws are very specific but still leave lots of room for interpretation. Adjusters do this work full time and have a vast amount of experience. Their job is to either deny your claim or pay you as little benefits as possible. Many times that means not providing necessary medical treatment that you need. An experienced attorney can help level the playing field.

If I get hurt on the job, can I be fired?

The law prohibits employers from firing people simply because they are upset that a workers’ compensation claim was filed. If you suspect this has happened, the attorneys at Allen Turner Law can get an associate employment lawyer to look into this for you.

If I get hurt on the job, who pays my medical expenses?

If your claim is accepted, the insurance company pays the medical bills. Usually, it will not cost your employer anything.

If I get hurt on the job, who pays my wages while I am out of work?

If your claim is accepted, you may be entitled to a percentage of your average wages for any periods you are out of work due to a work-related injury.

If I get hurt on the job, what benefits am I entitled to?

A short answer here is difficult but here goes. Benefits vary by circumstance, but generally, our laws provide medical treatment, reimbursement for mileage, and checks for the time you are out of work. At the end of your claim, you may be entitled to additional money for permanent disability. While that amount may be tied to your doctor’s impairment rating, it by no means sets the exact amount you can recover.

If I get hurt on the job, will I have to go to court?

Usually, no. Most Worker’s Compensation claims are settled out of court. If your case requires a court appearance, our attorneys at Allen Turner Law will be by your side each step of the way. Our staff has decades of experience and each case gets complete total and personal attention.

 

Helpful Car Accident Links:

Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation

Motorcycle Accident

What if my injuries are not serious?

As with the Trucking and Boating accident victims Allen Turner Law assists, Auto and Motorcycle accident victims need dialogue with a defense team regardless of the apparent severity of their injuries. It is always free to consult one of our attorneys at Allen Turner Law after an accident. Some injuries directly related to motorcycle accidents can go undetected for quite some time. Following an accident, it is important that you seek medical attention; then you can discuss your physician’s evaluation with one of our experienced attorneys who will help you determine the best course of action.

What different things can be recovered by Allen Turner Law?

  • Recovery of costs to repair your motorcycle
  • Recovery of towing and storage expenses
  • Recovery of your medical expenses
  • Recovery of lost wages or income
  • Compensation for your property damage
  • Compensation for your pain and suffering
  • In certain cases, Punitive damages

Workers Compensation Frequently Asked Questions

Workers Compensation / Disability Claim – Common Questions and Answers

Q: How much money can I expect to receive as a result of this claim?

A: This is a question asked by hundreds of my clients. I am sure each and every injured individual has thought about this to some degree but there is no easy answer. Final settlement amounts vary depending on the whether there is a permanency rating, the severity of the injury, the length of time off of work, any past or projected future medical costs, etc.

Our experienced workers’ compensation Team at Allen Turner Law has several locations in the metro Atlanta area and they are ready to discuss the particular facts of your case and assess what your workers compensation case is really worth.

Q: How long before I can receive a final settlement in my case?

A: This, of course, varies depending on many factors. Factors such as the severity of the injury, the length of appropriate diagnostics and medical care, and the age of the claim itself. The dedicated, skilled and experienced workers’ comp lawyers at Allen Turner Law will promptly file a claim for benefits and request a hearing on your behalf if there are any issues to be litigated. Rest assured we will seek to force your employer/carrier to submit to the Georgia Workers Compensation Statute and treat you fairly.

Q: Why do I need a Workers Comp Attorney such as Allen Turner to file a claim for benefits?

A: Most Insurance companies along with their adjusters, attorneys and staff pay very little attention to unrepresented individuals in workers compensation accident claims. The trained Georgia workers’ compensation team at Allen Turner Law will fight to serve your best interest. Recent studies indicate that claimants who settle their claims directly with the insurance companies typically recover less than one-third the amount of those represented by a workers’ compensation attorney. Don’t be taken advantage of. We are aggressive and will fight hard to help you reach your full potential medically and then we will evaluate your specific case and get you the highest settlement possible.

Q: Like many Georgia families money is tight right now. How much will it cost For Allen Turner Law to represent me?

A: Not one cent until we get you the settlement you deserve. There are no up-front costs. When we win or settle your claim in Workers Compensation our fee will be a reasonable 25% of the benefits obtained on your behalf by our firm.

Q: What can we do if my claim is denied?

A: We are totally dedicated to our client’s success. If your claim is denied it is not over. Please call our Workers Compensation Team at Allen Turner Law for an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer in Metro Atlanta who will begin fighting for you the moment you join us.

Q: Is it true that companies can fire people after they file a claim for workers compensation in Georgia?

A: The truth is not pleasant. Georgia is a “right to work” state. To be perfectly candid, unless you have a contract with your former employer (which few people have), you are classified as an “at will” employee. There are only a handful of exceptions and your employer can fire you at any time and for any reason. Typically, employers are reluctant to fire injured workers as it can open them up to additional exposure, but it does happen. Our team will help resolve these issues as they arise and do our best to mitigate all potential consequences. Your claim completely survives your employment status. This is because your workers’ compensation claim exists independently of your employment status. If your employer has fired you after a work-related injury in Georgia, our workers’ compensation lawyers will do everything in our power to fight for the benefits to which you are entitled. We have your goals and best interests in our sights at all times.

Uninsured Motorist, No-Fault and Workers’ Compensation

Uninsured Motorist Insurance

The issue of a double recovery can arise when a worker is injured during, and in the course of, their employment as a result of a vehicle accident.

It is the general consensus, however, that a workers’ compensation insurance carrier cannot claim a lien on the funds recovered under the worker’s uninsured motorist insurance policy. The argument bolstering this position is that a worker has the right to procure an independent insurance policy at his own expense to supplement any benefits he may receive under the workers’ compensation system.

A second argument supporting the lien prohibition is that the payment of funds under the uninsured motorist policy is based on the contract between the parties rather than on a compensable injury.

No-Fault Insurance

In contrast to the uninsured motorist insurance policy is the automobile no-fault insurance policy. Generally, a no-fault insurance carrier may reduce its payable benefits by the amount of workers’ compensation benefits received by the worker. Of course, the insurer’s right to claim a reduction in the amount it owes under the no-fault policy is dependent on the worker’s injury being compensable under the worker’s compensation statute.

The determination of “compensability” and the amount that is payable is fairly dependent on the wording of the applicable statute in the respective states. For example, various no-fault statutes hinge the deduction on criteria such as workers’ compensation benefits that are “recovered,” “actually received,” or “entitled to be received.”

Get Help Today

The world of uninsured motorist insurance, no-fault insurance, and workers’ compensation is a tricky one. Our workers’ compensation team members would be more than happy to help you navigate these confusing waters. Call 844-781-PAIN or Request an Appointment now.

Common Work Injuries

Common Work Injuries in Georgia

Allen Turner Law’s client examples of common Georgia workplace injuries:

  • Repetition and Overuse – An overuse or repetitive injury develops when a repetitive task or activity is required at work.
  • Assaulted on the Job – Workplace violence. An assault on the job can cause an injury which can be work related.
  • Slipping & Falling – In many cases, floors can be hazardous and lead to injuries related to some type of work related fall.
  • Falling Down – This may be the result of a misplaced object or clutter/cleanliness issues,
  • Being Struck by an Object – Objects often fall from high locations such as shelves or roofs that can injure workers when hit.
  • Machine Related Accidents – A machine related injury is commonly caused by some type of machinery catching or crushing body and limb of the operator.
  • Lifting and Pulling – By far, this type of injury is the most common. Lifting and pulling heavy items often cause back, neck, arm or leg pain and can be debilitating.

If you have experienced any of these on the job please contact us at Allen Turner Law.

Repetitive Strain Injuries

What are Repetitive Strain Injuries?

At Allen Turner Law we have found that repetitive movements throughout the day often result in carpal tunnel syndrome. Working with sharp objects can result in lacerations/cuts. Lifting objects can result in tendonitis (inflammation of the tendons) or wrist sprains (tearing of cartilage). These are all very painful arm and wrist injuries which are common in Georgia workers’ compensation claims. Most of the time these injuries can be treated with medication, rest, modified activities and physical therapy. Occasionally, surgery will be needed such as a carpal tunnel release or ORIF (titanium pin and plate inserted to stabilize) a wrist fracture caused by repetitive heavy work. It is not uncommon for doctors to use injections in the affected area before proceeding to surgery. If you do have surgery, it is very important to have post-operative physical therapy to regain range of motion as soon as possible. The success and range vary according to the severity of the energy.

Workers employed in jobs that require repetitive movements of the hand and wrist can result in the development of carpal tunnel syndrome. Without rest breaks and other precautions, office workers, cashiers, workers on assembly lines, and many others are at risk for the development of this disability that causes numbness, weakness, tingling and pain in the hand, fingers, and sometimes the arm and shoulder.
In addition to repetitive motions, awkward hand and wrist positions, strong gripping, vibration, and mechanical stress on the palm of the hand can all contribute to the development of carpal tunnel syndrome. Although most commonly thought of as an office worker’s disorder…. mechanics, locksmiths, meat cutters, wait staff, and musicians have all been diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome.

What is Carpal Tunnel?

In brief, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome can be diagnosed in a variety of ways. Our clients generally use one of two common types of diagnostic tests. These are the Tinel’s and Phalen’s test where the test identifies tingling in the fingers from nerve damage. Doctors can use electromyography to find damage. This is accomplished by placing electrodes on your arms to determine the quality of nerve transmission. The potential treatments depend on how severe the carpal tunnel injury is. Doctors often prescribe anti-inflammatory, splints and pain relief drugs to help the injured worker. Physical therapy can also help to restore the nerve, but severe nerve damage may not allow for PT to be as effective.
If you have a carpal tunnel, arm, or wrist injuries and need legal advice, please contact Allen Turner Law.

What are Arm and Wrist Injuries?

“Arm and Wrist Injuries” are very common in the workplace. These injuries can happen in the workplace and they don’t need to be as a result of a specific incident. People can suffer arm and wrist injuries as a result of repetitive and consistent use (such as keyboarding, using the mouse or working with your hands all day in a factory)

Weekly Disability Income Benefits

Weekly Disability Income Benefits: A Brief Description

Temporary Total Disability Benefit – When you are not working at all :

You can receive benefits when the doctor says you cannot work at all or if the doctor has put you on light duty work and there is no light duty available. Once you have been out of work for a week, (the “waiting period”) you will be entitled to weekly lost income checks. If you are out of work for 21 days, you will be entitled to be paid for the waiting period as well. These checks are due 21 days after the injury and weekly thereafter.

These weekly checks will equal two-thirds of your pay to a maximum of $525.00, if you were injured on or after July 1, 2013. The maximum payment is $500.00 per week for injuries sustained from July 1, 2007 to June 30, 2013, $450.00 per week for injuries sustained from July 1, 2005 to June 30, 2007, $425.00 per week for injuries sustained from July 1, 2003 to June 30, 2005 and $400.00 for those injuries sustained from July 1, 2001 to June 30, 2003. These payments are not taxed.

Temporary Partial Disability benefit – If you are working but earning less money:

If you have some work restrictions and can return to work but you are earning less than you were earning when you were injured, either because you are making less per hour or because you are working fewer hours, you will be entitled to partial disability benefits.

These weekly checks will be equal to two-thirds of the difference between what you made before you were injured and what you make after you were injured, to a maximum of $350.00, if you were injured on or after July 1, 2013. The maximum payment is $334.00 per week for injuries sustained from July 1, 2007 to June 30, 2013, $300.00 per week for injuries sustained from July 1, 2005 to June 30, 2007, $284.00 per week for injuries sustained from July 1, 2003 to June 30, 2005 and $268.00 for those injuries sustained from July 1, 2001 to June 30, 2003. These payments are not taxed.

Permanent Partial Benefit – If you have a permanent injury you will be entitled to money for your permanent disability:

See below for computation. These payments are not taxed.

Medical Benefits

The insurer must pay all of your medical bills as long as you to go to the workers’ compensation (company) doctor. There is no co-insurance, no deductible and no time limit. The insurer will have to pay for your medical bills as long as the doctor says that the treatment is for your job related injury. This can be a lifetime obligation. You have a right to see at least two doctors on the list of doctors that your employer is required to post. You have the right to ask the State Board of Workers’ Compensation to allow you to be treated by the doctor of your choosing. If you have received weekly benefits, you have the right to be examined by the doctor of your choosing within 120 days of your receipt of those benefits.

Reimbursement for Mileage

You are entitled to 40 cents per mile for travel to and from your workers compensation medical providers or to the pharmacy to obtain medications. You are also entitled to parking reimbursement. You should keep track of your mileage and parking receipts as soon as you start going to the doctor. The insurer must provide transportation if you cannot provide it for yourself. You only have one year from the date of the trip to submit your mileage and receipts for reimbursement. As of July 1, 2013, the insurer must pay within 15 days of receipt of proof of these expenses or be subject to late fees.

Limitations How long can my benefits go on?

Medical Benefits

For injuries prior to July 1, 2013, this is a lifetime benefit. For injuries occurring after July 1, 2013, your benefits can continue for 400 weeks from the date of injury, unless you have a catastrophic claim. If you have a catastrophic claim, you have a lifetime right to medical treatment.

Temporary Total Benefits
For injuries occurring after July 1, 1992, your benefits can continue for 400 weeks from the date of injury, unless you have a catastrophic claim. If you have a catastrophic claim, you may receive lifetime benefits. Should you receive a light duty work release from your authorized doctor, these benefits may be limited to 52 consecutive weeks or 78 total weeks, in which case they would be changed and reduced to temporary partial benefits.

Temporary Partial Benefits
These benefits are limited to 350 weeks from the date of the accident.

Permanent Partial Disability Benefits
These benefits are computed by multiplying the percentage of your impairment rating given by your authorized doctor by the number of weeks allowed under the law for the type of injury that you have.

Rehabilitation
Should you have a catastrophic injury, you will be entitled to medical and vocational rehabilitation benefits. Trained rehabilitation professionals assist the injured worker with medical care and in attempting to return to work. Rehabilitation benefits can include retraining, but rarely is that seen.

Remember there is no recovery for pain and suffering

Georgia Workers’ compensation is a no fault system. It does not matter whether it was the employer’s fault, your fault or no one’s fault. While you very well might be in pain and undoubtedly suffering, you cannot recover any money for this.

Settlement

At Allen Turner Law workers’ compensation claims are frequently settled. This means that the insurer, instead of paying all the benefits listed above, merely pays an amount of money and may agree to pay for medical benefits over a specified period of time, usually between 3 months and 1 year. While you may wish to settle, there is nothing that can be done to force the insurer to settle. The insurer cannot force you to settle, either. Employers rarely agree to settle with an employee who wants to continue to work for the same employer.

Can I be fired while I am receiving workers’ compensation benefits?

Sadly Yes. There is not a Georgia law that prohibits this. We are in an employment “at will” state. An employer who fires an employee while the employee is unable to work, however, runs the risk of having the employee receive workers’ compensation benefits for a longer period than otherwise should the employee not be able to find other suitable employment. Frequently an employer will wait until an employee receives a regular duty work release from the doctor and then fire the employee because the employee would not then be eligible for further workers’ compensation benefits. If this happens to you, please contact us and we may be able to assist you in obtaining further benefits.

If you think you’re entitled to workers’ compensation benefits, please contact us at Allen Turner Law

Social Security Disability Appeals Process

June 2015 Newsletter

Social Security Disability Appeals Process

If an individual disagrees with the decision of the Social Security Administration, an appeal can be taken. In the appeals process, all parts of the decision will be re-examined, including those parts that are favorable to the appellant. A written request for an appeal is required and it must be done within a specified time period. The individual may have a representative aid them in the appeals process. The representative will act on behalf of the individual, but is prohibited from collecting a fee for this service without first gaining permission from the Social Security Administration.

There are generally three levels of the appellate process. The first appellate hearing will be before an administrative law judge (ALJ). This initial hearing will focus on whether or not the individual is disabled, when such disability began, and whether it has ended. New information can be presented at the hearing, and the individual, his representative, or the ALJ can examine witnesses.

An appeal of the ALJ’s determination is taken to the Appeals Council. Though the Appeals Council reviews all appeal requests, it may deny an appeal if it finds the ALJ’s decision was correct. If the Appeals Council finds a review is warranted, it will either conduct the review itself or remand it to an ALJ for review. Finally, an individual whose appeal was denied by the Appeals Council, or who disagrees with its decision, may file a lawsuit in federal court.

Overpayments of Social Security Disability Benefits

May 2015 Newsletter

Overpayments of Social Security Disability Benefits

An overpayment of social security disability benefits arises when the Social Security Administration has paid the recipient in excess of the amount that was actually due. The Commissioner of Social Security is authorized to collect the overpayment either by reducing the recipient’s future payments, requiring the recipient or his estate to repay the excess amount, or by reducing the recipient’s tax refund by the excess amount.

When an overpayment results through no fault of the recipient, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will not seek reimbursement if it would defeat the purpose of the Social Security Act or would be against equity and good conscience. When determining the recipient’s “fault,” or lack thereof, the Commissioner will examine any mental, physical, educational, or language limitation from which the recipient suffers. The SSA’s policy declares that an overpayment is against “equity and good conscience” if the recipient has changed his position for the worse or relinquished a valuable right due to reliance on the notification of payment or the overpayment itself. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has held the SSA’s definition to be unduly restrictive finding that it was Congress’ intention that a broad concept of fairness apply, taking into account the facts of each case.