Burdine & Brown
Can I Receive a Payment for Pain and Suffering in A Job Injury Claim
The words “pain and suffering” do not appear in the law of workers' compensation. These words came from tort law, the common law that began in England and that we in the USA adopted.
Pain and suffering do apply in automobile negligence cases, medical malpractice cases, slip and fall cases, product liability cases, but not in workers' compensation cases.
Why is that? Georgia law is not alone by not including pain and suffering as part of this workers' compensation statute. All 50 states have excluded these words from their laws.
Workers' compensation does provide a very small substitute for pain and suffering. It is called Permanent Partial Disability (PPD) or it is also called an impairment rating. The American Medical Association has published a huge book as a guide for doctors to measure the loss of range of motion primarily as the proper PPD rating for the worker's injuries.
Here is an example. A worker sustains an elbow fracture resulting from a fall. Surgery follows. The worker is left with an arm that cannot extend to 100% after surgery. That is a clear limitation. The surgeon should rate the injury according to the AMA's Guides to The Evaluation of Permanent Impairment, 5th Edition.
The physician rates the arm injury (not the elbow) with a 15% impairment rating. If the worker received $575 per week benefits from the insurance company while out of work, then the formula is as follows: $225 weeks X 15%= 33.75 weeks X $575 = $19,406.25.
The PPD rating is paid once the worker returns to work or could be included as an element to consider at the time the case is settled.
This amount of money is a small pittance compared to the pain and suffering award one could obtain from a jury in a trial for damages.
This example goes to show that the workers' compensation system is certainly not one where one can “get much” or even be completely compensated for their injuries. Blame that on the heavy influence of business and insurance interests in Georgia.