WE REPRESENT INJURED WORKERS IN GEORGIA
Kiddingly, I have told many of my clients that “Georgia is a great place to live but just do not get hurt working here.” How true this statement actually is.
All 50 states have 50 different laws governing job injuries. There are similarities such as payment for being out of work due to a disabling injury and free medical care for the worker sue to the injury.
Yet it is amazing how different Georgia law is from many other states, even those close by, in the field of workers' compensation. See my FAQ titled "How Legislation is made in the Workers' Compensation arena?"
There is a rating system in the USA operated by an insurance organization (NCCI). The goal is to advise businesses where the best and worst states are for workers' compensation. Wait a minute…Best and worst for whom? The worker, the businesses or the insurance companies? Georgia ranks near the top in a few categories that clearly favors the employer and insurance company, such as:
- One of the lowest weekly benefit rates for the worker who is disabled;
- Control of the worker through restrictive medical care run by the insurance companies;
- Very few unions of workers which shifts power to the employer in almost all circumstances;
- Very conservative pro-business courts that tend to issue decisions in favor of business and insurance interests instead of favoring the worker/consumer.
The list goes on. Georgia is known as a state interested in securing new businesses from overseas and from other states. No one faults the leadership in this state for seeking new businesses. But when you sustain a job injury anywhere in Georgia, you will swiftly see the “other side of the coin.” See my FAQ titled "Workers' Compensation system and statistics."
It seems that over the last ten years, year by year, the employers and the insurers have chipped away at the rights of the injured worker. Three of the most recent examples are as follows:
- As of July 2015 all injured workers are now entitled to a maximum of 400 weeks of benefits after which their medical treatment stops. Prior to this date, the worker was entitled to lifetime medical treatment. The exception is that one must prove that their case is catastrophic or there is a need for a replacement of prosthetic devices, spinal cord simulators or intrathecal pump devices, durable medical equipment orthotics, connective eyeglasses and hearing aids, manual and electrical wheelchairs, beds and mattresses, traction equipment, canes and crutches.
- When it is demonstrated that the employer's Panel of Physicians consists of 5 and not 6 doctors properly posted (please see my FAQ titled “Who controls the medical care of the injured worker?”, now the employer gets another shot and to pick another doctor to replace the one that refused to treat. It took years to increase the Panel to 6 doctors. When I first began practicing law in 1979 the Panel of Physicians consisted of only 3 doctors. After 10 years that number was increased to 4 doctors and now it is a 6. I wish the Panel of Physicians would consist of 30 doctors because out of 30, the odds are much better at finding a decent doctor for the injured worker. See my FAQ titled: “When does my employer or the insurance company lose the right to control my medical care.”
- If the employee violates safety rules and sustains an injury, the employer/insurer may deny the claim altogether. See my FAQ titled “Can a worker's willful misconduct bar completely a claim for job injuries?”
My name is Tom Brown. I have been practicing law for 42 years (and still love it). I am an advocate for injured Georgia workers. My goal is to help hardworking people secure the weekly income benefits, medical treatment and a possible settlement (most but not all cases can settle with a lump sum payment for the exchange of a closure of medical treatment and a resignation from your job) so that my client can move forward and have a productive life again. See my FAQ titled "Is that a fair offer of settlement."
All businesses and workplaces in Georgia that have three or more employees are required to carry workers' compensation insurance to protect their injured employees. If you are injured in a workplace accident in Georgia, your employer's workers' compensation insurance provider generally pays for your medical treatment, including doctor visits, hospital treatment, physical therapy, and prescriptions.
You are entitled to income benefits amounting to two-thirds of your average weekly wage up to $675, if you are unable to work. You also are entitled to other funds if you lose use of any body part in a workplace injury. If you sustain a catastrophic injury that leaves you totally unable to do any job, you could be eligible for many years of benefits, possibly a life-time..
Unfortunately, insurance company claims adjusters do not usually inform you of the full benefits you are owed. Nor do they tell you all your rights. The job of a claims adjuster is to protect the insurance company's profit margin. That is why you need an injured workers' advocate with decades of experience and the passion and conscience to fight to protect your interests.
I represent injured workers who have experienced a variety of on-the-job injuries, including:
- Disc injuries (herniated, bulging):
- Spine injuries (strain/sprain);
- Brain injuries;
- Shoulder injuries (rotator cuff injuries);
- Knee injuries;
- Hip injuries;
- Ankle and foot injuries;
- Jaw injuries (TMJ);
- Psychological injuries
The injuries occur while my clients have engaged in the following activities:
- Forklift driving
- Truck driving
- Automobile accidents on the job
- Lifting accidents
- Construction work
- Heavy equipment operations
- Electrical work
- Slip and fall incidents
- Repetitive motion work
- Assembly line work
- Delivery driving injuries
- Machine operating injuries
If your injury is minor, usually causing no lost time from your job, having a lawyer usually will not change the outcome of your claim. We will tell you so up-front. But most injured workers with serious on the job injuries do benefit from quality legal representation.
There are a few questions you should be asking me about your job injury claim. Here are a few with references to the answers in my FAQ section of this website at www.burdineandbrown.com.
- Can I just use my group insurance instead of claiming workers' compensation benefits and filing my injury claim under workers' compensation? See my FAQ titled "If the workers' compensation insurance company denied my claim..."
- Is your lawyer seeking a settlement of your claim, even before your medical treatment is not completed? If so, this always benefits the insurance company since failure to develop the extent of your injuries and possible disability will give the insurance company the grounds to lower the value of your claim.
- Has the insurance adjuster told you they have closed your file? Do not listen to them. Call me for a thorough review. Caution: there are a number of statutes of limitations that must be strictly adhered to or your case could be permanently closed. See my FAQ titled "Does a return to light and restricted work end your workers' compensation claim?"
- Have you been paid for permanent impairment of a joint or for a fusion operation or for limitations in range of motion? You may be eligible for a modest payment. See my FAQ titled "What is a PPD Rating?"
- Do you believe the insurance doctor is misdiagnosing your condition? See my FAQ titled "What if my IME doctor wants to do a diagnostic..."
- Do you suspect the MRI or other diagnostic testing has been under-read by an insurance doctor?
- Have you been denied your one-time independent medical examination? (There are a few prerequisites that must be met before you are eligible for this free examination)
- Has your case been postponed multiple times without good reason by your current attorney? See my FAQ titled "Why has my case been postponed so many times?"
- Has your attorney provided you with all your medical records for the treatment you have received in your injury claim?
- Has your attorney lost interest in your claim and now all he/she is interested in is a settlement mediation* so the attorney can collect a fee and be done with your case? (*Note: settlement mediations are appropriate in certain cases, but not in all cases)
- Has your employer or your claims adjuster told you where you must seek medical treatment for your injury and not given you a choice from the company panel of physicians? (Please note; in many cases the company panel of physicians has all horrible doctors posted-this presents a very tough situation for the injured worker caught in a “web” of bad doctors).
- Why do I have to be examined by company doctors when I would like to be treated by my family doctor?(Unfortunately, this is the most disappointing part of my job, when I have to tell the injured person that he/she must attend the doctor's appointment using the employer/insurance company doctor(s).)
However, there are many exceptions. For instance:
- Was the panel of physicians posted and accessible to you at your place of employment?
- Are all the doctors or facilities in operation currently?
- Are there six (6) different doctors or hospital names posted on the panel of physicians?
- Have you exercised your right to choose another doctor from the “awful” list?
Are you on social media? If so, expect the insurance company to monitor your comments and your pictures and your postings, whenever they can. If a stranger requests access to your Facebook site, just say “No”. Change your privacy settings so only friends can have access to your data and pictures. I have had a few instances where insurance companies have attempted to use information they found on the internet against my clients. See my FAQ titled "Should I stop my Social Media activity after my job injury?"
- Has the insurance company asked you for a recorded statement? We urge you to say no without attorney guidance. We are entitled to be present for any such statement. Insist on your attorney to be present (and we will prepare you in advance for the recorded statement)
- Does your workers' compensation adjuster continue to deny medical care ordered by your doctor?
- Does the workers' compensation adjuster deny your prescriptions ordered by your treating physician? See my FAQ titled "Who controls the medical care of the injured worker?"
- Must I let the workers' compensation insurance nurse or representative come with me to each of my doctor's appointments? Do I have any right of privacy with my doctor? See my FAQ titled "Should I take the advise of the..."
- Do I receive reimbursement for gas and pharmacy expenses in my workers' compensation claim? Yes, if you submit a request which we do for all our clients. You only need to provide us with verification of the dates of your doctor's visits and the pharmacy receipts, we do the rest.
- In the world of workers' compensation, the longer you wait, the more likely the insurance doctors will declare you 100% fit to return to work, even if you are not. Then you weekly disability benefits will stop.
- The insurance doctors will order tests form their favorite MRI facilities (usually owned by these doctors) and the results will state nothing close to the truth about the extent of your injuries.
- Do not wait until you are nearing the end of your case to hire an attorney in your workers' compensation claim.
When searching for the perfect lawyer do you ask:
-Where did you go to law school?
-How many millions have you recovered?
-How much do I care?
NO! You will want to know if I can solve your immediate legal problem.
In 3 separate but similar areas of the law, I have handled many different varieties of legal problems in job injury cases, automobile accident cases and in social security disability cases.
I will welcome an opportunity to speak to you about your specific case. I do like to speak to potential clients by phone to see if I can help. If I believe I can help you then I will schedule an in office meeting to discuss all the details of your case.
At that point we can determine if you and I will establish an attorney-client relationship. I do want to hear from you. Do call me!
Contact My Office
We are here to represent the needs of and to fight for the rights of the injured workers of Georgia within the bounds of the law and the Rules of the State Board of Workers' Compensation. We believe in face to face contact with our clients whenever possible. Communication is the key to better representing people in general and my client sin particular. The system and the law in Georgia is stacked against the injured worker and it is with great pleasure that I try to help those who need to "fight the good fight" against the powers that be. It is an honor and privilege to use the law to demonstrate that our clients are deserving of the benefits we seek for them.