Articles Posted in Workers’ Compensation

A simple Google search turns up three reports of construction site accidents for the month of August: one involving a GDOT employee in Atlanta, another at a Georgia Water and Power site, and a third where three workers were injured at another power plant in Madison County. We all know construction sites are dangerous, but we don’t often consider how dangerous they are – both for the workers, and the public at large.  

Premises Liability and the General Public

There are numerous hazards on any given construction site – broken and uneven pavement, open pits, holes, and unstable structures, all of which could cause serious bodily injury. Construction companies, therefore, owe a duty to the public to ensure that the work site does not pose a hazard to passersby and the general public. As a result, construction companies are obligated to post signs warning of potential hazards, such as “keep out,” “authorized personnel only,” and “do not enter.” In addition, they must keep the site secure by means of fencing, barriers, locked gates, and other means from preventing entry. Construction sites are especially attractive to children, and so particular attention must be paid to keeping them out.

Despite modern safety equipment and government regulations, construction sites are still a very dangerous place to work. Construction workers can’t work when they’re injured so these accidents can be extremely problematic on a number of levels. In addition to your lost wages, what about your medical bills? How are you going to pay your mortgage or put food on the table? And what if you’re permanently disabled? There are a number of complicated questions that surround these injuries. If you’ve been injured in a construction accident, you should at least consider talking with a lawyer in order to understand your options.  

Worker’s Compensation vs. Personal Injury

Thankfully, worker’s compensation benefits are available in most cases, but most people don’t understand what worker’s comp covers and what it does not. Furthermore, in most cases, filing a claim for worker’s compensation prohibits you from suing your employer for personal injury.  As a result, it’s important to understand the difference between a personal injury claim and worker’s compensation and a personal injury lawsuit. We’ve provided the table below to help illustrate the differences between these two types of claims.

When someone mentions a workplace injury, people often imagine some kind of awful industrial accident involving heavy equipment that results in a severe injury or even death. While those kinds of accidents do happen, there is a broad spectrum of injuries that can occur in the workplace. It’s important to note that if you’re injured on the job, you may be entitled to compensation, no matter what the injury. In this post, we want to call your attention to some of the most common workplace injuries that people tend to overlook.  

Repetitive Motion Injuries

Repetitive motion injuries (RMIs, for short, but also known as “repetitive strain injuries”) are injuries that arise from actions that are repeated hundreds of times throughout the day or week. An obvious example is working at a computer all day, resulting in carpal tunnel syndrome, deteriorating vision, and muscle strains in your back and neck. However, RMIs are not limited to desk jobs – any motion that is repeated over and over can eventually harm the joints, tendons, and ligaments. 

According to the Department of Labor, there were 2.9 million nonfatal workplace injuries in 2016. Of course, this includes those cases that may not affect the worker’s ability to continue working. But what if your injury forces you to take time off? You have bills to pay, and you need to buy groceries, but you also need to recover from your injury. What do you do?  

Workers’ Compensation

Workers’ Compensation is basically insurance carried by an employer that makes it relatively easy for an employee to get compensated if they were injured at work or made ill by their employment. An injured worker may be entitled to workers’ compensation regardless of whether his employer is at fault for the accident. Generally speaking, workers’ compensation is an alternative to suing your employer for your injuries.

The Maine Supreme Court is currently deciding whether a paper mill worker who was left suicidal by narcotic painkillers should receive workers’ compensation benefits for medical marijuana. It is the first time that the court has considered this question. The plaintiff, Gaetan Bourgoin, won a ruling from the state’s workers’ compensation board two years ago saying that the paper mill’s insurer must reimburse him for medical marijuana. He contends that marijuana is both cheaper and safer than narcotics. However, Twin Rivers Paper Co. and its insurer appealed the ruling, arguing that paying for pot use, even for medical purposes, could expose the company to prosecution, since marijuana is still illegal at the federal level.

Now that medical marijuana is legal in 29 states and the District of Columbia, insurers across the country have been confronted with the problem of whether they should cover medical marijuana. Compounding this problem is the byzantine tangle of state laws on reimbursement. For example, five states – Connecticut, Maine, Minnesota, New Jersey and New Mexico – have found medical marijuana treatment is reimbursable under their workers’ compensation laws, according to the National Council for Compensation Insurance. Florida and North Dakota, meanwhile, passed laws this year excluding medical marijuana treatment from workers’ compensation reimbursement.

This issue is a bit more complex in Georgia. While patients who are suffering from certain conditions are legally authorized to possess low-THC cannabis oil in Georgia, the sale, manufacture, and distribution of marijuana are still illegal, meaning that doctors are not allowed to prescribe it. Although nothing in Georgia’s workers’ compensation law specifically bars legal marijuana treatment, the law does state that insurance companies only have to pay for medical treatment that is authorized by a medical provider. Thus, because doctors cannot prescribe marijuana, workers’ compensation insurance companies do not currently pay for it in Georgia.

ExxonMobil Corp. has been fined $165,000 by federal regulators for safety violations over an explosion that occurred in 2016 at a large oil refinery in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  The  United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued a total of nine citations, including citations for inadequate training and equipment maintenance at the aging facility. Exxon has stated that it is contesting OSHA’s most recent findings and the fines the agency imposed.

The facility in question is an alkylation unit that makes octane-boosting components for gasoline. The explosion occurred on November 22, 2016, when a worker removed the cover of a malfunctioning valve on an isobutane line and used a wrench to turn the valve system. As the operator turned the valve system, portions of the valve fell out, releasing isobutane and igniting a welding machine 70 feet away. As a result of the explosion, one worker was knocked off a scaffold and left dangling over the fire, while another worker was burned over most of her body. In total, four workers were injured, two of them severely.

This is not the first time the Baton Rouge facility has drawn the federal government’s ire; he facility was faulted five years ago by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for failing to address corrosion on pipes and valves and for inadequate shutdown and emergency procedures provided to workers.In 2012, the EPA inspected the Baton Rouge refinery as part of a risk management prevention program and found Exxon had not examined more than 1,000 underground pipes in five years, many of which were corroded, according to the agency’s report on the inspection. The EPA also found that emergency and shutdown procedures failed to provide needed details for operators.According to the latest OSHA citations, Exxon’s safety procedures and training for operators on the alkylation unit were lacking, equipment was not properly maintained, and required safety inspections were not carried out within the required time periods. Eight of the nine citations were listed as “series,” each carrying a fine of $12,675. The ninth fine was for failing to carry out external visual and ultrasonic inspections of piping, and carried a fine of $63,373. The ninth fine was much higher than the fines for the other citations because OSHA cited Exxon in 2016 for violating the same inspection standard at a mother of its refining facilities in Baytown, Texas

The workers’ compensation system is a no-fault insurance system whereby employees give up their right to sue their employers for personal injuries in civil court in exchange for a fixed set of benefits they will receive if they are injured on the job, regardless of fault. If an injured employee were to sue his or her employer for personal injuries in civil court, he or she would have to show fault on the part of the employer and prove all the elements of a personal injury claim, while the employer would be able to defend itself using every legal defense available. In those cases, the injured worker might be able to recover more than he could get through workers’ compensation benefits, but, then again, he could end up getting nothing at all. The workers’ compensation solves this problem by barring personal injury suits by employees against their employers, but guarantees compensation to injured employees.

Each state runs its own workers’ compensation system and has different requirements for participation in the program.Here, we’ll take a look at Georgia’s.

Georgia Workers’ Compensation Eligibility

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