When you have sustained a serious work injury and your injury is determined to be “catastrophic” under Georgia workers’ compensation laws, then you are entitled to medical benefits, vocational rehabilitation benefits and Total Disability Benefits indefinitely or until you can return to work. If your injury is not specifically labeled as catastrophic, your income replacement benefits will be capped at 400 weeks. This is why it’s important to ensure you receive a catastrophic injury determination under Georgia workers’ compensation rules.
Eligibility Requirements for Catastrophic Determinations
O.C.G.A. 34-9-200.1(g) provides the state’s definition of catastrophic. The following injuries are considered catastrophic in a workers’ compensation claim:
- Spinal cord injuries that involve severe paralysis of the arm, leg or trunk
- Amputation of an arm, hand, foot or leg that results in the effective loss of use of that appendage;
- Severe brain or closed-head injuries (To be considered severe, the employee must have severe sensory or motor disturbances, severe communication disturbances, severe complex integrated disturbances of cerebral function, severe disturbances of consciousness, or severe episodic neurological disorders.);
- Second- or third-degree burns over 25 percent of the body as a whole;
- Third-degree burns to 5 percent or more of the face or hands; and
- Total or industrial blindness.
In addition to the above specific conditions, the law stipulates that your condition still may be deemed as catastrophic if the injury is “of a nature and severity that prevents the employee from being able to perform his or her prior work and any work available in substantial numbers within the national economy for which such employee is otherwise qualified.”
Proving Your Injury is Catastrophic
Given the vague nature of some eligibility requirements, there is some leeway in what types of conditions and the severity of the symptoms that qualify a worker for a catastrophic determination. If you or your loved one sustained a severe work-related injury, you’ll want to have a lawyer review the case to see if you should pursue catastrophic workers’ compensation benefits.
You will need to provide a substantial amount of medical evidence and vocational evidence in order to validate your request for a catastrophic determination. Your workers’ compensation attorney can assist with this. Bader Law Firm, LLC has professional connections with well-respected medical experts and vocational experts who can evaluate your condition and, if justifiable, testify about the catastrophic nature of your injury and your inability to work. For a free legal consultation in Atlanta with a catastrophic work injury lawyer, call 404-888-8888 today.