What is an Idiopathic Injury and How Does it Affect GA Workers’ Comp Benefits?

According to Georgia workers’ compensation laws, an on-the-job injury is only considered compensable if it arose out of and in the course of employment. In other words, your workplace injury must have occurred while you were in the process of working and there must be some connection between your work activity and your injury in order for you to be eligible for benefits. Unfortunately, if your injury occurred at work, but is classified as an idiopathic injury, your employer and your employer’s insurance carrier may deny medical or disability benefits related to the injury. If you suffered an on-the-job injury in Georgia and you think you may be entitled to income benefits, contact our knowledgeable workers’ compensation attorneys at Rechtman & Spevak as soon as possible. Our workers’ comp lawyers have extensive experience protecting the rights of injured workers in GA, and can help you pursue the benefits you deserve for your Georgia workplace injury.

Idiopathic Injuries Explained

An idiopathic injury is defined as a medical issue that arises spontaneously from an obscure or unknown cause and has little connection to the performance of your work duties. Pursuant to O.C.G.A. §34-9-1(4), “injury or personal injury shall not include heart disease, heart attack, the failure or occlusion of any coronary blood vessels, stroke, or thrombosis unless it is shown by a preponderance of competent and credible evidence, which shall include medical evidence, that any of such conditions were attributable to the performance of the usual work of employment.” In other words, Georgia workers’ comp laws hold that a heart attack and other such medical events – which presumably do not “arise out of” the worker’s employment – are not considered compensable injuries.

Pursuing Benefits for GA Workplace Injuries

The reasoning behind this statute is that a heart attack, for example, is caused by an underlying factor not related to the worker’s job duties. Unless it is, of course. In some situations, a heart attack or another medical condition traditionally considered to be “idiopathic” can absolutely be caused by a worker’s activities on the job. For example, employees who are consistently exposed to chemicals at work may be at risk for health issues that could result in an adverse event, like a heart attack. Under these circumstances, because the injury or illness actually did arise out of and in the course of employment, it may be compensable under Georgia workers’ compensation laws.

Workers’ Comp Lawyers for On-the-Job Injuries

Although several idiopathic injury cases have reached appellate courts across the state of Georgia, the law in this particular area of workers’ compensation is still evolving, and there is no singular opinion among judges presiding over workers’ compensation cases involving this type of injury. For this reason in particular, it is important to consult a qualified workers’ compensation attorney after suffering an injury at work that may or may not be classified as an idiopathic injury. Contact our workers’ compensation lawyers at Rechtman & Spevak if you have been injured on the job in Atlanta, Marietta, or elsewhere in Georgia, and you believe you may be entitled to workers’ comp benefits. With our experienced attorneys on your side, you can protect your legal rights and seek fair and timely reimbursement for your workplace injury.

Jaret A. Spevak
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Atlanta Attorney with Over 20 Years Experience