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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What is reasonable and necessary medical care in a worker's comp case?
Georgia law requires employers to provide medical benefits as part of workers' compensation for employees who've suffered on-the-job injuries. However, only reasonable and necessary medical expenses are covered.
Defining Reasonable and Necessary Medical Care
Under Georgia workers' compensation law, "reasonable and necessary" is thought to mean treatment in line with the standard of care for a specific condition.
For example, if you fell and broke your arm while delivering packages for FedEx or UPS, you'd expect to be provided with a diagnostic x-ray and a cast. If you sprained your ankle slipping on a wet floor while helping a customer at Lowe's or Home Depot, you'd expect to be provided with crutches and physical therapy exercises to help the injury fully heal.
Generally speaking, emergency room visits, basic diagnostic testing, limited physical therapy, and painkillers prescribed right after an injury are unlikely to be denied.
However, requests for coverage are often debated when medical expenses involve:
- Specialized equipment with deluxe features not found on standard models
- Modifications to the home to accommodate a disabling injury
- Care provided by attendants with little or no medical training
- Alternative treatments such as massage, yoga, acupuncture, chiropractic care, or water therapy
- Pain management
- Psychiatric care
- Extensive diagnostic testing
- New and experimental treatments with little research to support their effectiveness
- Duplicative treatments ordered by multiple doctors
- Specialized treatment ordered by a non-specialist health care provider
Some of the expenses a workers' comp insurance company may attempt to deny may very well be medically necessary. For example, modifications to the home would be an excessive expense for an employee with a minor back injury, but a perfectly reasonable request for someone suffering from permanent paralysis.
The Value of Legal Representation
If you're having trouble getting workers' compensation benefits to include medical expenses you believe are reasonable and necessary, it's a good idea to contact an experienced attorney who can advocate for your needs. Letting an attorney negotiate on your behalf maximizes potential compensation while giving you more time to focus on recovery from your injury.
Rechtman & Spevak's legal team is committed to helping injured Georgia residents resolve their workers' compensation claims fairly and promptly. Contact us today to schedule a free, no-obligation initial consultation.
How are future medical costs calculated in a personal injury settlement?
Traumatic brain injury, amputation, paralysis, and other permanently disabling injuries can create a significant financial burden. If your injuries were caused by another party’s negligence, obtaining an accurate assessment of future medical costs is a vital part of ensuring a fair personal injury settlement.
Anticipating Future Needs
Once you’ve reached maximum medical improvement, your condition is classified as being stable enough that your healthcare provider can make a reasonable prediction about your future requirements.
Your provider may recommend the following items as part of your treatment:
- Lab tests
- Follow-up visits
- Pain relievers or other prescription medication
- Physical therapy or other forms of rehabilitation
- Wheelchairs, crutches, prosthetics, or other assistive devices
- Home health care aides
- Placement in a nursing facility for around-the-clock care
- Mental health counseling
Since the cost of medical care continues to increase at a rapid rate, you’ll need to use experts to estimate what funds will be required for your future treatment needs.
Lifecare planning experts are professionals who specialize in estimating the cost of specific procedures, medications, and interventions given current rates of medical inflation. They also consider variables such as your age, general health before the accident, and treatment options in your geographic area.
In your personal injury claim, a life care planning expert will estimate expenses for the future before calculating a discount rate to bring costs to their appropriate present value. A total lifestyle approach will be used if your injury will require ongoing nursing care or placement in a facility, while an added expenses approach will be used if you’ll still be able to live independently as long as your specific treatment needs are addressed.
How Rechtman & Spevak Can Help
Even if your personal injury claim involves permanently disabling injuries, you’re not allowed to ask for additional funds once a settlement agreement has been reached. Therefore, it’s vital that you work with an attorney who can advocate for the maximum possible compensation.
The dedicated personal injury attorneys at Rechtman & Spevak have extensive experience helping injured Georgia residents resolve their claims for future medical expenses. Contact us today to schedule a free, no-obligation case review.
What are duties under duress?
If you've been injured in an auto accident, you may encounter a number of unfamiliar terms in the process of settling your claim. One of these terms is duties under duress, which is related to your pain and suffering compensation.
About Duties Under Duress
Duties under duress are tasks that you could easily perform before the accident, but now struggle to accomplish because of your injuries. For example, if you suffered a back injury, you may struggle to handle any task that involves lifting, bending, or sitting for long periods of time. Or, if you suffered a concussion, you may have lingering headaches and trouble concentrating at work.
Most duties under duress are related to symptoms of physical injury, but anxiety and depression may also play a role. If you're suffering from panic attacks, nightmares, or other mental health symptoms that are making it difficult to complete tasks that are a part of your daily routine, this should be included in your settlement.
Duties under duress can be related to work, education, household, or domestic duties. Some common examples of duties under duress include:
- Work activities. Limited range of motion, decreased physical strength or stamina, trouble remembering information, difficulty following directions, and other challenges related to your specific occupational duties.
- Education activities. Carrying books and supplies to class, sitting without pain during lectures, concentrating while studying, and other tasks related to performing successfully as a student.
- Household activities. Mowing the lawn, trimming hedges, maintaining your garden, washing windows, taking out the trash, grocery shopping, running errands, providing transportation for children, and other related tasks performed outside the home.
- Domestic activities. Washing dishes, doing laundry, vacuuming, dusting, making the bed, cooking meals, taking care of young children, and other tasks performed inside the home
Identifying Relevant Duties Under Duress
Duties under duress are important in a personal injury claim because they illustrate the extent of your pain and suffering related to your injuries. You can identify your duties under duress by thinking about the following questions:
- Have you had to hire someone to help with household or domestic tasks because of your injuries?
- Are friends and family currently assisting you with your chores?
- Has your supervisor made modifications to your job duties or are your coworkers assisting you with tasks at work that are difficult?
- Are there any duties you had trouble performing immediately after the accident, but can now successfully perform?
If you're not sure what duties under duress you've been experiencing, try keeping a journal to note what tasks are more difficult to accomplish as you go about your day. You may also want to consider asking close friends and family if they've noticed that you are struggling to complete certain tasks.
For each task you note, record what specific problems you are having and how much of your day is normally spent performing the task. Tasks that make up a significant portion of your daily routine are the most valuable duties under duress for the purpose of your personal injury claim. For example, not being able to focus on a computer screen due to visual impairments or headaches is more problematic for someone who works in an office than it would be for a stay-at-home parent.
Reporting Duties Under Duress
Any duties under duress that you note should be reported to your physician. Having your difficulties listed in your medical records clearly links them to your accident-related injuries.
When you're experiencing symptoms that are ongoing, you need to report them to your physician at every visit. If you do not report the symptoms at every visit, they won't appear in your chart notes. This will lead to the mistaken assumption that the issue has resolved itself.
Protecting Your Right to a Fair Settlement
In addition to sharing a detailed description of your duties under duress with your healthcare provider, it's important that you enlist the services of an experienced personal injury attorney to protect your right to a fair settlement. Attempting to resolve your case without representation will likely result in a settlement that doesn't adequately compensate you for your medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Call Rechtman & Spevak today to schedule a free, no-obligation initial case review.
- Work activities. Limited range of motion, decreased physical strength or stamina, trouble remembering information, difficulty following directions, and other challenges related to your specific occupational duties.
How will my attorney help me prepare for my injury case deposition?
If your personal injury claim is the first time you’ve been involved in any sort of legal action, the thought of giving a deposition can be intimidating. However, your attorney will help you prepare for your testimony to make sure your statements do not inadvertently harm your case.
About the Deposition Process
Depositions are an important part of the discovery process in many different types of legal actions. A deposition is essentially a formal question-and-answer session with a witness. The purpose of a deposition is to allow the other side an opportunity to find out what information you have so they can be prepared for a trial.
When you give a deposition in your personal injury case, you and your attorney will meet with the defendant’s attorney. A court reporter will be present to record your answers and the meeting may be videotaped. The defendant has a right to appear at the deposition, but he or she is not required to be present. Everything you say during a deposition is under oath, so you’ll be sworn in before the questions begin.
Depositions do not take place in a courtroom. Typically, you’ll meet in your attorney’s office. The time required for a deposition varies, with some lasting just 15 minutes and others taking several hours.
Common Deposition Questions
Every deposition is a little different, but here are some examples of the types of questions you can expect to be asked:
- Where do you work? What jobs have you had in the past 10 years?
- Where do you currently live? Where did you live in the past 10 years?
- What injuries or illnesses have you had in the past 10 years?
- What past legal claims or lawsuits have you been involved in?
- Have you previously been convicted of any felony or misdemeanor criminal offenses?
- Can you please describe the details of your accident?
- Can you please describe what injuries you have suffered following the accident?
- What specific physical limitations have you been experiencing as the result of your injuries?
Preparing for Your Deposition
To help you prepare for your deposition, your attorney will go over the process with you and have you practice answering questions that might be asked. He or she may also go over your medical records or ask you to revisit the scene of the accident to clarify that you’re both on the same page.
Tips to keep in mind as you prepare include:
- Dress conservatively. To make a good impression, dress as if you were attending church or a job interview.
- Keep your answers short and to the point. It’s important to provide the truth in your deposition, but you don’t need to offer up additional unnecessary or irrelevant information. Answer the specific question being asked as briefly as possible. If you don’t know the answer, say “I don’t remember” or “I don’t know” instead of guessing.
- Pause before answering. There is no judge during a deposition. If your attorney objects to a question, the objection is noted and the questioning continues. However, your attorney can instruct you not to answer a question if it pertains to attorney-client privilege. Pausing slightly before answering the question gives your attorney time to object if necessary.
- Ask for clarification. If you don’t understand what a question means, ask for clarification before answering. Generally, the opposing attorney is not trying to trick you. He just wants to get answers to his questions. It’s important that you understand what is being asked, which will help you avoid giving an answer that could hurt your case.
- Ask for a break when you need one. A deposition can be mentally taxing, but you’re allowed to ask for a break if you need to get a drink, stretch your legs, or use the restroom. Don't be shy about asking to stop for a few minutes if you need a break.
The Value of Experienced Legal Representation
Helping you prepare for your deposition is just one thing that an experienced personal injury attorney can do in order to help secure a fair settlement in your case. The team at Rechtman & Spevak is committed to advocating for the needs of injured Georgia residents throughout every step of a personal injury claim. Please call today to schedule a free, no-obligation case review.
How can I prove I am not an independent contractor to get the workers’ compensation benefits that I deserve?
In the modern economy, misclassification of workers is a significant and growing problem. While it was once rare for workers to be considered independent contractors, a large section of the workforce is now under this classification.
On the surface, the differences between an employee and an independent contractor may appear to be minimal. Some Georgia companies regularly hire employees and independent contractors to work side by side doing very similar tasks. However, if you’re hurt at work, being misclassified as an independent contractor will lead to a denial of workers' compensation benefits.
Proving the Nature of Your Relationship
In the simplest terms, an independent contractor is someone who does not have taxes taken out of his check and has no access to employer-provided benefits such as health insurance, a retirement plan, and paid vacation.
However, a business can’t simply decide on its own that you are an independent contractor. There is a specific legal definition for this term based on a number of different factors related to behavioral control, financial control, and the nature of your relationship with the business.
Classifications Based on Supervision of Work
- You are likely an employee if you have a supervisor who determines when, where, and how you must perform your work.
- You are likely an independent contractor if you work with minimal supervision and the business is only concerned with the end result of your work.
Classifications Based on Training
- You are likely an employee if the business provides you with specific training designed to help you perform your work in a certain way.
- You are likely an independent contractor if it is assumed that you either have the necessary training to do your job or will seek out training on your own time.
Classifications Based on Evaluation of Work
- You are likely an employee if your work is evaluated based on how it is performed.
- You are likely an independent contractor if your work is evaluated based on the quality of the final product or service.
Classifications Based on Nature of Services
- You are likely an employee if your work is a key part of the business. For example, if you are a server or cook in a restaurant, your employer is likely controlling your work to a significant degree.
- You are likely an independent contractor if your services do not relate to the business’s core mission. For example, consultants who provide accounting or marketing assistance to a manufacturing company are likely to be considered independent contractors.
Classifications Based on Investment in Materials and Supplies
- You are likely an employee if the business you work for provides you with the tools necessary to perform your work.
- You are likely an independent contractor if you are required to buy the materials needed to perform your work, such as a computer, specialized software, and general office supplies.
Classifications Based on Opportunity for Profit and Loss
- You are likely an employee if you’re paid a fixed hourly rate or a set salary.
- You are likely an independent contractor if you can either profit or lose money, based on the time and expenses necessary to complete your work.
Classifications Based on Permanency of Relationship
- You are likely an employee if you have a fixed, ongoing relationship with one business.
- You are likely an independent contractor if you are hired for a specific project or task and regularly work with more than one business at a time.
How Rechtman & Spevak Can Help
If you believe that your employer is trying to inaccurately classify you as an independent contractor in order to deny you access to workers’ compensation benefits, it’s vital that you seek the assistance of an experienced attorney as soon as possible. Do not take the risk of representing yourself, as mistakes can leave you responsible for your own medical expenses and lost wages.
Rechtman & Spevak’s attorneys are committed to helping Georgia employees receive the worker’s compensation benefits that they are entitled to. Call today to schedule a free, no-obligation initial case review.
What does tolling the statute of limitations mean?
The statute of limitations refers to the length of time an injured plaintiff has to take legal action against a defendant. There are different limitations for different types of cases, including circumstances where tolling can occur to increase the length of time you have to file a claim.
Understanding Georgia’s Statute of Limitations
Georgia’s statute of limitations laws are intended to ensure that litigation proceeds in a timely fashion. They allow cases to proceed while evidence is still readily available and prevent defendants from worrying about someone taking legal action decades after an event occurred.
Statute of limitations laws for Georgia specify these time limits to start a lawsuit:
- General personal injury claims: two years.
- Loss of consortium: four years after the right of action accrued.
- Property damage: four years.
- Wrongful death: two years.
- Product liability: two years.
Extending Deadlines by Tolling the Statute of Limitations
In most cases, the statute of limitations is non-negotiable. If you miss the deadline to file, you can’t take legal action. However, under certain circumstances, the statute of limitations can be tolled. Essentially, this means that the clock has been temporarily stopped to allow extra time for taking action.
The most common reasons for tolling the statute of limitations are as follows.
- The victim is an injured child. When the victim is a child and the case does not involve medical malpractice, the statute of limitations begins to run when he turns 18.
- The victim was not mentally competent at the time the injury occurred. When an injured person is considered mentally ill or otherwise not legally competent, the statute of limitations doesn’t begin until after his disability is removed.
- The incident of wrongful conduct involves the commission of a crime. If you’re injured in an accident involving someone who committed a crime, the two-year statute of limitations is tolled for the time between when the offense is committed and when the criminal case is resolved, provided that such time does not exceed six years. For example, if you receive injuries from an accident involving a drunk driver, the statute of limitations is extended by the amount of time it takes for his DUI charge to be resolved.
- There was no opportunity for reasonable discovery. The statute of limitations may be extended if there was no way for an injury or medical condition to have been reasonably discovered within the specific timeframe.
- The defendant has declared bankruptcy. The “automatic stay” that is granted as the result of filing bankruptcy generally tolls the statute of limitations until the bankruptcy is resolved or the stay is lifted.
- The defendant has committed fraud. When the defendant has fraudulently deterred the plaintiff from bringing legal action, the period of limitations runs only from the time of the plaintiff’s discovery of the fraud.
Tolling the statute of limitations does not affect a case in terms of your burden of proof or your eligibility for compensation. It only affects how much time you have to bring legal action against the defendant.
Seeking Legal Assistance
If you’ve suffered damages due to another party’s negligence, it’s in your best interests to seek legal representation as soon as possible. When you begin the process of filing a claim immediately after the incident, it’s easier to locate the evidence you need to build a strong case. In fact, some attorneys may refuse to accept a case if the statute of limitations deadline is rapidly approaching, due to the length of time it takes to properly prepare for legal action.
However, don’t assume that you are entirely out of luck if it appears that the statute of limitations for your case has passed. In many cases, it’s possible to bring multiple causes of action from a single occurrence of wrongful conduct. This means that you may still have options even if it appears that the statute of limitations for your case has run out.
The experienced personal injury attorneys at Rechtman & Spevak can help interpret the statute of limitations, assess the value of your case, locate relevant evidence, and negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf. Call today to schedule a free, no-obligation initial case review.
Who is responsible for damages in a multi-vehicle accident?
Multi-vehicle accidents present special issues in a personal injury claim because it’s not always immediately obvious which driver—or drivers—may be at fault
How Fault Is Determined
In any accident, the first priority is attending to the immediate medical needs of injured drivers, passengers, or pedestrians. After arrangements have been made for this care, law enforcement officers begin their investigation.
Evidence gathered can include:
- Testimony from drivers.
- Testimony from passengers.
- Witness testimony from pedestrians or people who were nearby when the accident occurred.
- Traffic camera footage.
- Notes and photos regarding location and type of vehicle damage.
- Past driving records to see if anyone involved has a history of reckless driving, DUI, or other unsafe behavior.
- Black box data.
Fault Options in a Multi-Vehicle Accident
In a multi-vehicle accident, there are three possibilities for who is responsible for damages.
- Single at-fault driver. In most cases, a multi-vehicle pileup happens when one driver makes a mistake that begins a chain reaction. This may include turning the wrong way down a one-way street, running a red light, or abruptly stopping.
- Multiple at-fault drivers. Although the driver who sets off the chain reaction is primarily responsible for the accident, it’s likely that other drivers may also share some degree of fault. For example, consider an accident where driver A is tailgating and rear-ends driver B. If driver C was speeding, he could easily strike the back of driver A’s vehicle. Driver D might hit the back of driver C’s vehicle because he was distracted by texting and driving. In this case, everyone is partially at fault except for driver B.
- No at-fault driver. In very rare cases, an accident may be determined to be nobody’s fault. For example, a driver who loses consciousness due to a genuine medical emergency can’t be held responsible for the damages that result.
Collecting Compensation as an At-Fault Driver
When more than one driver is at fault, Georgia uses a modified comparative negligence system for assigning responsibility for accident related expenses. This means you can still collect compensation as an at-fault driver, but only if you were 49% or less at fault for the accident. If you are 50% or more at fault, you can’t recover any accident-related expenses.
Additionally, your percentage of fault proportionally reduces your ability to recover damages. For example, if you were 25% at fault for the accident, you’d only be able to recover 75% of the damages you’d receive if the other driver was 100% at fault.
How Policy Limits Affect Your Personal Injury Claim
Unfortunately, policy limits often play a big role in personal injury settlement for multi-vehicle accidents. Since accidents of this type often involve multiple people with serious injuries such as organ damage, traumatic brain injury, or paralysis, medical bills can be substantial. Lost wages can also add significantly to the settlement, especially when more than one person has been left with a permanent disability that prevents him or her from returning to work.
Although drivers are generally encouraged to take out substantial liability coverage to protect themselves in the event of an accident, most drivers only carry the state-mandated minimum insurance. Georgia’s minimum car insurance requirements are:
- Bodily injury liability of $25,000 per person.
- Bodily injury liability of $50,000 per accident.
- Property damage liability of $25,000 per accident.
If an accident exceeds the policy limits of the people who are at fault, you may then go after any uninsured motorist coverage that you have on your own policy. If there is not adequate insurance coverage, then you will need to try to collect from the at-fault driver(s) personal assets. This can be a difficult and time-consuming task.
How Rechtman & Spevak Can Help
Maximize your available compensation in a personal injury settlement by hiring an experienced attorney to line up the necessary evidence to document your expenses and negotiate on your behalf. The dedicated team Rechtman & Spevak serves clients throughout Georgia, advocating for the funds they need to recover from their car accident injuries. Call today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.
What does pain and suffering mean in a personal injury settlement?
Pain and suffering compensation is intended to reimburse you for both the physical pain and the emotional trauma you experienced as the result of another party’s negligence. Your compensation will depend upon a number of factors, including the severity of your injuries and whether or not you’ve been left with any permanent disabilities as the result of the incident.
About Personal Injury Settlements
In a personal injury settlement, there are two types of damages: economic damages and noneconomic damages. Economic damages are damages that have an easily assigned dollar value, such as the cost of the medical care you needed as the result of your injuries and the value of your lost wages. Noneconomic damages are damages that have an abstract and subjective nature. This includes pain and suffering damages as well as punitive damages and applicable compensation for loss of consortium.
Using the Multiplier Method
The multiplier method is the most common way to evaluate pain and suffering for a personal injury settlement. This method tallies up your documented medical expenses and multiplies the total by a number between 1 and 5. Lower numbers are used for less serious injuries where the victim is expected to make a full recovery, while higher numbers indicate serious injuries resulting in some level of permanent disability.
One factor to consider with the multiplier method is that some medical expenses are looked upon as more valid than others. If you briefly saw a physician for your neck and shoulder pain, but continued treatment with a chiropractor instead of following the physician’s recommendations, your expenses might be called into question by the other party’s insurance company. Seeking treatment for a longer than average period of time without having any documented complications in the healing process may also cause your expenses to be questioned.
Using the Per Diem Method
Another method that can be used to evaluate pain and suffering compensation is the per diem method. This method assigns a daily value to pain and suffering, then multiplies the daily value by the number of days in which the victim took to fully recover. In most cases, the per diem value is based on your wages earned at work. Using your daily wages as the per diem value assumes that the effort of coping with your injuries is roughly equivalent to going to work each day.
Choosing Which Method to Use
There is no hard and fast rule used to determine how pain and suffering compensation must be calculated. This means that pain and suffering compensation is often one of the most highly debated parts of a personal injury settlement.
Your hourly earnings may affect which method results in a more favorable settlement, especially if your injuries are very serious and your earnings are relatively modest. For example, a fast food worker who suffered internal bleeding and a severely broken leg that required surgery and a hospital stay would likely receive a higher level of pain and suffering compensation using the multiplier method.
Generally speaking, the per diem method is best suited for use in cases where the injury is one with a relatively short recovery period. If you’re left permanently disabled, the calculation becomes unreasonable given the fact that your medical expenses and lost wages may be enough to exceed the limits of the at-fault party’s insurance policy.
Whichever method you choose, you’ll need to present as much evidence as possible to support your claim. Many attorneys recommend keeping a journal of your symptoms and how they’ve affected your daily activities, so you can offer specific examples of the pain and suffering you’ve experienced if you are ever called to testify. Copies of your medical records and expert testimony from healthcare providers experienced in dealing with your particular condition may also be important in establishing the the value of pain and suffering in your claim.
The Value of Legal Representation
The best way to maximize your available compensation in a personal injury settlement is to retain the services of an experienced attorney. Your attorney can line up the necessary evidence to document your medical expenses and lost wages, while negotiating on your behalf to ensure that you receive the highest possible compensation for your pain and suffering. Call Rechtman & Spevak today to schedule a free, no-obligation initial case review.
How can I tell if my illness is work-related?
Workers’ compensation claims involving on-the-job accidents are normally fairly straightforward. It’s easy to establish a cause and effect relationship when a worker suffers injury due to a fall or a malfunctioning piece of equipment.
Claims for work-related illnesses are more complex because the illness is often the result of cumulative exposure or could mistakenly be attributed to activities that occurred outside the workplace.
Claims for Occupational Hearing Loss
Hearing loss is one of the most common types of work-related illnesses. Anyone who works in an environment where he or she is regularly exposed to loud noises is vulnerable, although construction workers and those who are employed in manufacturing facilities report the highest number of these types of claims.
Work-related hearing loss is covered under workers’ compensation law. However, testing may be done to rule out other possibilities for your condition, such as infection or a head injury.
Claims for Skin Conditions Related to Chemical Exposure
Florists, hairdressers, manicurists, cooks, janitors, and certain types of manufacturing workers often spend large portions of their day in contact with harsh chemicals. These chemicals can be linked to several different skin conditions.
- Irritant contact dermatitis. A painful but curable skin condition, this disorder can be the result of long-term exposure to chemicals.
- Allergic contact dermatitis. Patients with this type of skin condition can experience effects immediately or after prolonged exposure. The effect is permanent once sensitization occurs.
- Skin cancer. Contact with carcinogenic chemicals can lead to skin cancer, which could in some cases be fatal.
Claims for Mesothelioma or Asbestosis
Exposure to asbestos over many years can lead to mesothelioma or asbestosis. Construction workers, carpenters, plumbers, electricians, engineers, firefighters, machinists, heavy equipment mechanics, and welders are just a few of the various professionals who are considered to be at risk for these illnesses. Claims for such occupational diseases are subject to an enhanced standard of proof to establish that the illness is work related. Therefore, it is essential that you have an experienced workers' compensation attorney assist you on these claims.
Claims for Exposure to Contagious Diseases
Common illnesses such as the cold or flu are not eligible for workers’ compensation. However, if you work in a nursing home, hospital, doctor’s office, or other healthcare setting, certain types of contagious diseases can be considered work-related if you can establish that you were infected while performing your job duties. This includes tuberculosis, brucellosis, or Hepatitis A.
Claims for Workplace Food Poisoning
Food poisoning can be considered eligible for workers’ compensation if you can trace the illness back to food supplied by your employer. If you become ill after eating food you’ve brought from your own home or purchased for yourself at another location, the illness is not considered work-related. Reports of similar illnesses among coworkers who ate the same meal are often sufficient to establish a link between your employer and your need for medical treatment.
Claims for Mental Health Conditions Related to Workplace Trauma
Treatment for mental health conditions related to your work may be covered under workers’ compensation, as long as the psychological condition arose following a physcial injury caused by an on-the-job accident. In the absence of a physical injury, psychological problems such as depression and PTSD are not covered under Georgia law.
Protecting Your Right to Compensation
If you’re experiencing difficulty obtaining workers’ compensation benefits for an illness that you believe is related to your employment, obtaining legal representation is a must. An experienced attorney can help line up the evidence you need to document the cause of your condition, thus protecting your right to medical treatment and income replacement benefits.
Rechtman & Spevak’s attorneys are committed to helping injured Georgia residents access the workers’ compensation benefits they need to move forward with their lives. Call today to schedule a free, no-obligation case review.
Am I taking any risks by representing myself in a workers’ compensation claim?
If you’ve been injured in a work-related accident, you may find yourself wondering if it’s really necessary to hire an attorney. The answer to this question depends upon the circumstances of your case, but most workers will find that having someone to advocate for their right to compensation helps them to receive the benefits they need to move forward with their lives.
When Is It Possible to Represent Myself in a Workers’ Compensation Claim?
You are not legally required to have an attorney to receive workers’ compensation benefits. In fact, some cases can be easily settled without an attorney. You can comfortably represent yourself if your case meets all of the following criteria:
- Your employer agrees with your claim that your injury is work-related.
- The insurance company is promptly responding to your request for benefits.
- Your injury is minor, such as a sprained ankle or small cut requiring just a few stitches.
- You missed little or no work due to your injury.
- You have no pre-existing medical conditions that could complicate your case.
When Do I Need to Protect Myself by Hiring an Attorney?
Hiring a workers’ compensation attorney to represent your interests is essential if your cases meets any of the following criteria:
- Your employer denies that your injury is work-related.
- Your benefits are being delayed by the insurance company.
- Your employer has attempted to retaliate against you for filing a claim.
- You’ve missed several weeks of work and are worried about making ends meet due to the resulting drop in income.
- Your injuries are serious enough to result in a permanent partial or total disability.
- You’ve received a settlement offer that only covers part of your medical expenses.
- You disagree with your physician’s assessment of the severity of your injury.
- You have a pre-existing condition that has complicated your treatment.
- You’re also receiving Social Security disability benefits and/or Medicare.
You may also have a potential third-party claim, such as a personal injury suit related to a motor vehicle accident that occurred while you were driving a company vehicle.
What Services Can an Attorney Provide?
Some of the services a skilled workers’ compensation attorney can provide include:
- Identifying the worth of your case based on the severity of your injuries and your future earning potential.
- Getting the right medical evidence to support your case,
- Finding vocational experts who can testify about the physical requirements of your job or what type of work you can be expected to perform given the nature of your injuries.
- Structuring a settlement so as not jeopardize Social Security disability or Medicare benefits.
- Negotiating with the insurance company on your behalf.
- Monitoring the progress of your claim so you’re free to focus on recovering from your injuries
It is vital to remember that the workers’ compensation system no longer serves as an adequate safety net for injured workers. In many cases, the law favors employers and their insurance companies. Without an advocate on your side, you risk having your claim unfairly denied or being offered less than what you truly deserve.
Can I Afford to Hire a Workers’ Compensation Attorney?
If you’re currently unable to work and watching your medical bills pile up, it’s understandable to be anxious about adding to your financial burden. However, workers' compensation cases are handled by attorneys on a contingency fee basis. In other words, the attorney will get a percentage of what he or she gets for you. Any attorney you hire to handle your Georgia workers' compensation claim can charge you 25% of what they recover on your behalf. Your attorney will not receive any portion of benefits that are already being voluntarily paid by the insurer. The attorney only gets paid this percentage on benefits or a settlement that he or she gets for you that you were not able to obtain on your own. There is no upfront cost, and if your attorney doesn't get you a settlement or any additional benefits, there’s no fee.
How Do I Get Started with My Case?
If you’re having trouble getting your employer and their insurer to pay benefits following a work-related injury, Rechtman & Spevak’s attorneys can help. Call today to schedule a free, no-obligation initial case review.