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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  • Who's liable when a driver hits a pedestrian who was distracted while texting?

    distracted_pedestrianThe 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?

    choosing a workers comp doctorIn 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.

    Doctor Panel Requirements

    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.

    Why This Isn't Always Good For The Injured Worker

    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
    • Smoking
    • High cholesterol
    • Hypertension
    • Obesity
    • Diabetes
    • 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.​

    The knowledgeable workers' compensation attorneys with Rechtman and Spevak can help you build a strong case. Contact us today to schedule an appointment for a free initial case consultation.

  • 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 Injuries Are More Frequent Than Most Think

    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 Nursing Assistant Injuries

    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.
    • Fractures
    • Cuts and punctures
    • Bruises
    • 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.

    Experienced Workers' Comp Attorney For Injured Nurses

    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?

    Out-of-court settlements

    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.  Workers' comp for violence in the workplace

    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.

     

  • What is the likelihood my wrongful death case will settle out of court?

    Wrongful death claims, like other types of personal injury cases, rarely go to trial. It’s estimated that over 90% of cases are settled out of court. Of those that do go to trial, about 90% settle before the court reaches a verdict.

    Advantages of Settling Out of Court

    Settling out of court offers a number of important advantages:

    • Settling is less expensive. Preparing for a trial takes a lot of time, which increases legal fees. In many cases, settling before trial is the most cost-effective solution for everyone.
       
    • Trials are unpredictable. In your mind, you may have an open and shut case. However, trials are known for being unpredictable. The jury might not agree with your assessment of liability, or they may decide that your case is worth less than you think.
       
    • Settling protects your privacy. A wrongful death claim can involve a number of sensitive issues. If you settle out of court, you can control the release of this information. If your case goes to trial, you may have to deal with unwanted media attention.
       
    • Trials and appeals can take years. The legal system moves much more slowly than many people would like. Even a fairly simple wrongful death case may take years to resolve once the trial and appeals are taken into consideration. If you settle out of court, you can put the matter behind you and focus on moving forward with your life.

    Deciding to Accept a Settlement Offer

    If you’ve received a settlement offer in your wrongful death claim, it’s important to discuss the terms of the settlement in great detail with an attorney. A fair settlement should provide adequate compensation for the deceased person’s medical expenses, burial costs, and lost wages. You should also be compensated for the deceased person’s pain and suffering in their final moments as well as your own loss of his or her care and companionship.

    How Rechtman & Spevak Can Help

    The experienced legal team at Rechtman & Spevak is dedicated to helping Georgia residents who have lost a loved one due to the negligence of others receive the wrongful death compensation they deserve. Our attorneys will advocate for your rights throughout every step of the settlement process. Call today to schedule a free, no-obligation initial case review.

  • 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
    • Surgery
    • 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:

    • Surgery
    • 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.