Answers To Your Workers' Comp & Personal Injury Frequently Asked Questions
Doubt, uncertainty, and confusion can quickly cause painful situations to escalate into catastrophic traumas. Personal experience has taught us that when an accident victim allows his concerns to overwhelm his determination for justice, he neither gets relief nor justice. This is why we feel that getting answers to your injury questions are extremely important not only to relieve stress, but also to build a stronger injury claim. Allow us to address your concerns and come see for yourself how a simple answer can make a difference.
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I was hit by a driver cited for a DUI. What happens now?
Drunk driving remains a serious problem in the United States. More than one million drivers were arrested for driving under the influence in 2016 alone, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Statistics.
It's a frightening statistic, but what's even more shocking is these arrests make up just 1 percent of the 111 million episodes of alcohol-impaired driving self-reported by American adults each year.
Lawsuits Against DUI Drivers
If you were seriously injured in an accident caused by a driver cited for driving under the influence, or DUI, you may be entitled to compensation for medical expenses, property damages, lost wages, loss of income, pain and suffering, punitive damages, and other economic and non-economic losses.
However, even in accident cases involving DUIs, obtaining compensation is never a given.
Building a Strong Case Against a DUI Driver
Hurt in a DUI accident? Here's what you can do to build a strong personal injury case:
- Take photos and videos at the scene of the accident. Make sure to document the positioning of the involved vehicles, relevant road or weather conditions, property damage, and apparent injuries.
- Gather contact information and statements from people who witnessed the accident. It's especially helpful to get information from people who saw the intoxicated driver swerving or weaving before the crash; or staggering, slurring their words, or attempting to hide their intoxication after the accident.
- Seek medical attention as soon as possible, even if you don't think you're seriously injured. Adrenaline may mask the pain of certain injuries, and late-appearing injuries can take hours or even days to present themselves. Work closely with your doctor to ensure that your accident-related injuries are documented carefully and thoroughly.
- Consult a personal injury attorney. An attorney with experience handling personal injury cases against drunk drivers can help you understand your legal rights and options, and fight for the compensation you deserve.
Were You Injured in an Accident Caused by a Drunk Driver?
The knowledgeable and experienced attorneys with Rechtman & Spevak can help. Contact us today to schedule an appointment for a free initial case consultation.
What should I do if I need to see a specialist and there isn't one listed on my employer's panel of physicians?
After sustaining a serious injury on the job, it's understandable that injured workers would want access to care from the best doctors to treat their conditions. Unfortunately, when it comes to seeing a doctor, you're often limited to providers on your employer's approved panel of physicians.
While it's not impossible to see a specialist for a workplace injury, it does require jumping through a few hoops. Here's a look at the process.
Seeing an Authorized Doctor
Start by seeing a doctor from your employer's approved panel of physicians. In Georgia, the law specifies that these panels be comprised of at least six doctors, and include one orthopedic physician; no more than two industrial clinics; and at least one minority physician. The authorized doctor from the panel can refer you to a specialist, but they aren't always willing to do so.
If this happens, you still have a few options, including:
- Seeing a different doctor from the approved panel. You can switch to another doctor on the panel once without prior approval, and that physician could refer you to a specialist.
- Requesting an independent medical examination (IME). If it's been fewer than 120 days since you last received income benefits, you can request a one-time IME with any doctor of your choosing, and use that to schedule an appointment with a specialist.
- Presenting the IME report to your treating physician from the panel. After presenting the report, you can request to be referred to a specialist.
- Filing a request for a hearing seeking a change of physician. A workers' compensation attorney can help with this.
Sometimes, even if a doctor refers you to a specialist, your employer's workers' compensation insurance provider may decline to authorize the visit. This is particularly common for illnesses which are likely to require ongoing treatment, but for which there are no diagnostic tests to confirm progress. A prime example of this is psychiatric treatment.
Consult an Experienced Workers' Compensation Attorney
Are you struggling to obtain the medical care that you need after being injured in a workplace accident? The knowledgeable workers' compensation attorneys with Rechtman & Spevak can help. Contact us today to request an appointment for a free initial case consultation.
Who can file a wrongful death claim in Georgia?
When a person is killed in a vehicle or other personal injury accident caused by the negligence of another person or entity, surviving family members may have grounds for a wrongful death claim. A common type of civil lawsuit, a wrongful death claim allows the victim's survivors to seek compensation for both economic and non-economic damages related to the death.
However, the law doesn't permit just anyone who was close to the victim to file a wrongful death claim. In Georgia, eligibility for filing a wrongful death lawsuit is limited to just a few individuals: the victim's surviving spouse, children, parents, or personal representative. The surviving spouse has the first option to file and, if the couple has minor children, the spouse must represent their interests as well.
Eligibility For Wrongful Death Claim
In the absence of a surviving spouse, a wrongful death lawsuit can be filed by the victim's adult children, parents, or the representative of his or her estate. In cases where the wrongful death claim is filed by a personal representative rather than any of the forenamed family members, any compensation recovered must be held by the estate for the victim's next of kin.
Potential damages in Georgia wrongful death cases can include reasonable funeral and burial expenses, lost wages and benefits, loss of care and companionship, pain and suffering, and other considerations.
Did You Lose a Loved One in a Personal Injury Accident?
Losing a loved one is never easy, but finding out the death was because of someone else's negligence can be especially difficult. It's heartbreaking, and definitely not fair. While no amount of money can replace your loved one or fill the hole left in your life, a financial award from the at-fault party can help bring closure and make sure you and your family are taken care of—just like your beloved relative would have wanted.
The experienced attorneys with Rechtman & Spevak help numerous wrongful death claimants receive the compensation they need and deserve after their tragic losses. If you have questions about a wrongful death case, we'd love to answer them, and help you understand your legal rights and options. Call our office using any of the convenient numbers on this page, or complete the brief online contact form to request a free initial consultation.
What damages are available for a personal injury claim in Georgia?
After being seriously injured in a Georgia car collision, truck crash, motorcycle wreck, or other personal injury accident caused by someone else's negligence, victims may be entitled to pursue a wide range of damages.
These damages are usually divided into two main types: special damages and general damages.
Also known as economic damages, special damages compensate personal injury victims for quantifiable financial losses stemming from the
accident in question. Examples include:
- Medical bills
- Future accident-related medical expenses
- Property damage
- Lost wages
- Loss of earning capacity, if applicable
While special damages compensate victims for quantifiable losses, general damages (or non-economic damages) deal with losses that can't be neatly measured, such as:
- Pain and suffering
- Mental and emotional anguish
- Scarring or disfigurement
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of enjoyment of life
Additionally, in cases where the at-fault party's conduct was particularly egregious, a third type of damages may be available. Known as punitive damages, they're intended to punish the at-fault party for wrongdoing and deter similar actions, rather than compensate the victim for an economic or non-economic loss.
If a personal injury victim dies as a result of their injuries, their surviving family members may be eligible to file a wrongful death claim to seek compensation for special and general damages related to their loved one's death. Wrongful death damages may include reasonable funeral and burial expenses, loss of financial contribution, the family's emotional suffering, and other relatable forms of compensation.
Consult an Experienced Georgia Personal Injury Attorney
If you were seriously injured in a Georgia personal injury accident, the knowledgeable attorneys with Rechtman & Spevak can help you explore your options for compensation. We can advise you regarding which types of damages may be available in your case. Use the convenient contact information on this page to schedule an appointment for a free initial case consultation.
Who's liable when a driver hits a pedestrian who was distracted while texting?
The dangers associated with distracted driving are better known, but many people don't realize that distracted walking can also have serious consequences.
Distracted walking accidents and injuries are on the rise, according to the National Safety Council. Pedestrians who text, play mobile games, or surf online while walking are most at risk.
Pedestrian accidents are also on the rise, as noted by the Governors Highway Safety Association in its 2016 and 2017 reports, and distracted walking—particularly texting while walking—may be at least partially to blame.
When pedestrians are struck by vehicles, the injuries they sustain can be absolutely devastating.
Even in cases where the driver was traveling at a relatively slow speed, victims may require extensive medical care and time off from work. Pedestrian accident victims may be entitled to compensation from the driver who hit them. However, if the pedestrian was distracted and texting at the time of the accident, he or she may share in liability, which could potentially affect their financial recovery.
Fortunately, Georgia is a comparative negligence state. This means personal injury victims may still be entitled to compensation, even if they were partially responsible for their accidents and injuries. Georgia courts use modified comparative negligence rules, which allow for personal injury claimants to collect damages if they were up to 49 percent responsible for the accidents in which they were injured.
Consult an Experienced Pedestrian Accident Attorney
If you were seriously injured in a pedestrian accident, but are worried that your role in what happened may affect your ability to recover compensation, it's vitally important that you understand your legal rights and options.
The knowledgeable pedestrian accident attorneys with Rechtman & Spevak can help you build a strong case and fight for the compensation you deserve. Contact our offices today to schedule an appointment for a free initial case analysis.
How do employers choose their panel of workers' compensation doctors?
In Georgia, employees injured on the job may be entitled to medical, rehabilitation, and income benefits under the state's Workers' Compensation Law. Workers' compensation covers a wide range of authorized medical expenses, including doctor bills and hospital bills.
However, unless a worker's injuries are emergent in nature, their employer is unlikely to cover medical care provided by just any doctor.
Instead, in most cases, the injured employee is required to choose a physician from the employer's panel of workers' compensation doctors.
By law, this panel must:
- Be comprised of six unaffiliated doctors or clinics
- Include at least one orthopedic surgeon
- Have no more than two industrial clinics
- Include at least one minority doctor, based on ethnicity or gender
The doctors on this panel are chosen by the employer, often in consultation with its insurer. Additionally, employers can review the performance of the doctors on their panel and change them if they don't live up to their expectations.
The ability to choose and change the doctors on the panel is good for employers and insurers, as it gives them some measure of control over who's treating individuals who are injured on-the-job and, ultimately, how the claim is handled.
Unfortunately, this can be detrimental for injured workers. While some employers may choose well-qualified physicians who treat workers fairly, others may opt for doctors with reputations for keeping costs down by:
- Minimizing workers' injuries
- Failing to relate some or all of the injured worker's complaints to their on-the-job accident
- Recommending low-cost treatment options, even if higher-cost treatments are more effective
- Returning injured workers to work with restrictions too quickly
- Assigning a low permanent impairment rating
- Releasing injured workers from their care and sending them back to their regular job prematurely
Fortunately, knowledgeable attorneys with experience handling workers compensation cases can help injured workers choose a doctor from the panel who is more likely to listen to their concerns and treat them fairly. If you are dissatisfied with the treatment being provided by your treating physician, your attorney may be able to get your care transferred to a new doctor. Under Georgia law, you are entitled to a one-time change to another doctor on the employer's panel of physicians without obtaining prior approval.
Were You Injured on the Job?
Rechtman & Spevak is committed to helping injured Georgia workers receive the workers' compensation benefits they need and deserve. Contact us today to schedule an appointment for a free initial case consultation with one of our workers' compensation attorneys.
Are heart attacks and strokes covered by workers' compensation in Georgia?
There are approximately 1.5 million heart attacks and strokes each year in the United States. According to the American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association, the majority of heart attacks and strokes that happen outside of hospitals occur in public settings, including workplaces.
Heart attacks and strokes are not generally compensable as workers' compensation injuries. However, in Georgia, an injured worker may be able to collect workers' compensation benefits if he—and his attorney—can prove “by a preponderance of competent and credible evidence” that the worker's employment duties caused or contributed to the condition.
Well-Documented Medical Records Are Essential
Workers' compensation claims for heart attacks or strokes must include extensively documented medical evidence, which can be provided by the doctor who treated the injured worker, or a non-treating physician who's been asked to give an opinion after reviewing the individual's medical records. Other, non-medical evidence used to support these types of Georgia workers' compensation claims include testimony from witnesses, as well as testimony from the injured worker.
Common lifestyle and genetic risk factors for heart attack and stroke include:
- Unhealthy diet
- Family history of heart attack or stroke
- High cholesterol
- Coronary artery disease
However, even workers who have modest to moderate lifestyle and genetic risk factors may still be able to collect workers compensation benefits for an on-the-job heart attack or stroke if they can show their job duties are physically demanding and include a lot of heavy lifting, or expose them to excessive heat or cold, or induce mental and emotional stress.
Consult an Experienced Workers' Compensation Attorney
If you suffered a heart attack or stroke in the workplace and believe that your work duties caused or contributed to your injuries, you may be entitled to collect workers' compensation benefits for medical expenses, lost wages, and other damages.
Why do nurses, nursing assistants, and other hospital personnel experience so many work-related injuries?
Nurses, nursing assistants, orderlies, technicians and other healthcare personnel provide compassionate care to patients experiencing health problems and crises. Unfortunately, in doing so, they have an increased risk of sustaining or developing serious workplace injuries and illnesses. According to the Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), more than 35,000 nursing employees sustain on-the-job injuries each year. Many have to miss work as a result.
Nursing may not seem like a particularly hazardous profession. However, the injury and illness incidence rate is six cases per 100 full-time workers. This means private industry hospital workers are more likely to suffer significant on-the-job injuries than employees in more traditionally dangerous industries, such as construction, manufacturing, commercial trucking, and warehousing.
What makes the healthcare field so perilous for nurses, nursing assistants, and other medical professionals? In addition to exposing employees to illness, jobs in this field are physically demanding, requiring workers to lift, move, or reposition numerous patients on a daily basis.
Common on-the-job injuries for nurses and nursing assistants include:
- Sprains, strains, and tears. These injuries are often serious—in 2015, most required an employee to miss more than 31 days of work.
- Cuts and punctures
- Herniated discs. Orderlies and nursing assistants suffer back injuries at a rate three times higher than construction workers.
The causes of such injuries vary, but often include:
- Overexertion and bodily reaction. Comprised of injuries sustained while lifting or moving patients, these incidents accounted for more than 24,000—or 45 percent—of private hospital injury cases in 2015.
- Falls, slips and trips. These injuries made up 25 percent—or more than 13,200—of private hospital cases in 2015, according to the BLS.
- Exposure. The Georgia Nurses Association estimates that health care workers sustain between 600,000 and 800,000 needlestick and sharps injuries each year. As a result, nurses and other healthcare aides are frequently exposed to airborne illnesses, bloodborne pathogens, chemicals, and other hazards.
- Workplace violence. Nurses and orderlies are often assaulted by upset or ill patients or their family members.
Consult an Experienced Workers' Comp Attorney
Workplace injuries often have significant financial consequences for healthcare workers. If you're a nurse, nursing assistant, or other health care worker who was injured while performing job-related duties at Emory Healthcare, Northside Hospital, Piedmont Healthcare, or in a private nursing facility, you may be entitled to workers' compensation benefits.
The knowledgeable workers' compensation attorneys with Rechtman & Spevak can help you protect your rights every step of the way. Contact us today to schedule an appointment for a free initial case consultation.
What are the benefits of settling your personal injury claim out of court?
People who are seriously injured as a result of another person's negligence often file personal injury claims or lawsuits to seek compensation for medical expenses and other losses. Although some personal injury lawsuits actually make it to trial, the vast majority are settled long before they reach the courtroom.
Why Choose a Settlement?
While resolving a personal injury case in court can sometimes lead to a higher financial award for plaintiffs, it can also be lengthy, costly, stressful, potentially embarrassing, and unpredictable. However, when a fair settlement amount is offered, settling out of court can actually have numerous benefits, including:
- Faster resolution. Settling out of court can help personal injury plaintiffs receive compensation much more quickly than going to trial—it can take months or even years to receive a financial recovery from a trial, especially if a defendant decides to appeal an unfavorable decision. Out-of-court settlements usually take just days or weeks to negotiate.
- Fewer expenses. Litigating a personal injury case can be expensive. Although most personal injury attorneys work on a contingency fee basis and receive a percentage of the pre-trial settlement or court-ordered financial award, attorney fees aren't the only expenses to consider. Plaintiffs will also likely be responsible for court costs, expert witness payments, and more.
- Less stress. Bringing a personal injury lawsuit is stressful enough without being subjected to intrusive questioning and cross-examination. Opting to settle out of court can help plaintiffs avoid emotionally taxing courtroom scenarios.
- Maintain privacy. Trial details are public record, but settling out of court often lets both sides keep personal information private.
- Compensation plaintiffs can count on. Trials can be unpredictable. Even if all of the evidence is admissible and your witnesses are convincing, there's no guarantee that the jury will side with the plaintiff and award the desired amount of compensation.
Consult an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer
If you were injured due to someone else's negligence, you may be entitled to compensation. Let a knowledgeable personal injury lawyer examine the facts of your case and help you explore your legal options. Contact Rechtman & Spevak today to schedule an appointment for a free initial case consultation.
Does workers' comp provide benefits if an employee is injured by workplace violence?
Violence in the workplace is more common than people think. According to the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA), a federal agency tasked with regulating private industry workplace health and safety, as many as 2 million workers report having been the victims of on-the-job violence each year.
The Many Types of Workplace Violence
Workplace violence can come in many forms, including threats or acts of physical or sexual assault, intimidation, harassment, or other threatening or harmful behavior. Instances of violence in the workplace often involve other employees, but in some cases, they may involve clients, customers, and even visitors.
A victim of workplace violence may suffer serious physical, emotional, and psychological injuries that require extensive medical treatment. The cost of such treatment can take a toll on an injured worker’s finances—particularly if he’s unable to work while recovering from his injuries.
Fortunately, injured workers may not have to shoulder these financial burdens on their own. Workers who were assaulted while performing work-related duties may be eligible to collect workers' compensation benefits—as long as they weren't the initial physical aggressor.
Under Georgia's Workers' Compensation Law, workers who are injured on the job are entitled to compensation for related medical expenses, as well as temporary or permanent partial disability payments. An experienced workers' compensation attorney can help workplace violence victims ensure they receive all the benefits they're owed.
Our Attorneys Can Help Injured Workers Protect Their Rights
Georgia's Workers' Compensation Law can be confusing for those who have no previous experience with the system. However, if you sustained serious injuries in a violent attack that occurred in the workplace or while performing your work-related duties, you may be eligible for workers' compensation benefits. The skilled attorneys with Rechtman & Spevak can investigate your claim and help you explore your options for compensation. Contact us today to schedule an appointment for a free, no-obligation initial case consultation.