If you work for an employer in Savannah, Georgia, who has at least three full time or part time employees, then you should be covered by mandatory workers’ compensation insurance. This means that if you sustain any kind of injuries while working, you are eligible for wage benefits and medical benefits. These benefits are typically provided until you reach maximum medical improvement and are able to return to work. Unfortunately, not all claims are this simple, and some work related injuries are catastrophic, resulting in a lifetime of disability. When this happens, the benefits that you are eligible for change, and they could be provided for the rest of your life.
What Counts as a Catastrophic Injury in a Savannah, Georgia, Workers’ Compensation Claim?
To begin with, you need to figure out whether or not your injury can be classified as catastrophic. You may have serious injuries, even disabling injuries that are not necessarily catastrophic by definition. The types of injuries that are frequently designated as catastrophic include the following:
- Paralysis from spinal cord injury.
- Amputation of a limb or extremity.
- Severe traumatic brain injury with neurological dysfunction.
- Burns covering at least 25% of the body (second and third degree).
- Burns covering at least 5% of the face and/or hands (second and third degree).
- Injuries resulting in blindness.
These are not the only catastrophic injuries. Any injury that prevents you from ever being able to return to work could potentially be defined as catastrophic in a Savannah, Georgia, workers’ compensation claim. The catastrophic designation for your injury should come from your physician. If the injury is not catastrophic, then your physician may release you to return to work with certain medical restrictions. In other cases, they may restrict you to not return to work until you have healed. With catastrophic injuries, it is presumed that you will not be able to heal to a degree where you can return to work.
If your physician does not classify your injury as catastrophic, and if the injury is not among those that are automatically considered to be catastrophic, then you may need to request a hearing. It will be up to you and your attorney to prove that the injury truly is catastrophic. This may involve seeking second opinions from other medical professionals and seeking the testimony of a vocational expert. You should not give up hope because the company approved physician did not classify your catastrophic injury as being catastrophic. It is natural for the workers’ compensation system to attempt to deny that a catastrophic injury should be classified as such because it costs them more money. Many workers are forced to fight the unfair lack of classification in court for this reason.
What Kind of Rehabilitation Benefits Are You Eligible For in a Catastrophic Injury Case?
Many catastrophic injuries require a substantial amount of rehabilitation for the injured worker to reach maximum medical improvement. Rehabilitation can also make it possible for the injured worker to learn how to adjust to their disabilities and live the best quality of life. For example, if you lost a limb in a work related accident, then you need to learn how to live and function without that limb.
Rehabilitation can never give back the limb, so you can’t expect to ever return to your former condition. Yet, it can help you to learn how to live without it. You may even be able to get employment in another area or industry. Thus, the rehabilitation benefits that you receive from your workers’ compensation claim could include more than regular rehabilitation to recover. It can include all medical treatment, any counseling that you need, and vocational therapy or job planning assistance. It can even cover training for a job position that will accommodate your new restrictions.
You will need to be aware that these rehabilitation benefits are only legally required for injured workers who have a catastrophic injury. That doesn’t mean that non-catastrophic injuries can’t also benefit from rehabilitation benefits, but the employer and workers’ compensation insurance provider do not have to provide them. If you want rehabilitation benefits for a non-catastrophic injury, then you can request these benefits, but you may not get them.
What Do You Do if Your Loved One Was Killed By a Catastrophic Work Injury in Savannah, Georgia?
Some catastrophic work injuries lead to death. When this happens, the dependants of the deceased worker are entitled to receive workers’ compensation benefits. Dependents are the only ones who are eligible for such benefits, which include the spouse, the minor children, any dependent parents, and any other legally defined dependent person. The death benefits that you can recover as a dependant of someone who was killed by a catastrophic work injury include medical expense benefits, income benefits, and funeral and burial benefits.
The medical benefits will take care of any expenses associated with the medical treatment that your loved one received, due to the work injury, before they passed away. The income benefits will provide 2/3 of your lost loved one’s former weekly wages. The funeral and burial benefits will provide for the costs of your loved one’s funeral and burial, up to $7,500.
It is important to know that these benefits are not provided forever. Rather, you will stop receiving benefits as a minor dependent when you reach the age of 18 if you are not in school or the age of 22 if you are a full time student. In cases where you are receiving benefits as the surviving spouse, those benefits will stop if you remarry or move in with a new partner. In cases where you are the only dependent receiving benefits, they will stop once they reach $150,000.
What Can You Do When Your Catastrophic Injury is Not Categorized Correctly?
If you have suffered a catastrophic work injury in Savannah, Georgia, and if that injury is not correctly classified as being catastrophic, then you are not without options. You can contact a skilled Savannah, Georgia, workers’ compensation attorney and request a hearing to get the correct classification. You will have to prove that your injury truly is catastrophic, and the attorneys at the Bader Law Firm can help.