If you have been injured at work, and if your injury is directly related to your work tasks, then you should be able to successfully file for workers’ compensation benefits. You should receive medical benefits and wage benefits to address your healthcare treatment and your lost wages from time off of work in recovery. Yet, if your claim is denied because the injury is considered to be idiopathic, then you may have an uphill battle ahead of you. An idiopathic injury is one which occurred spontaneously, and not because of your work environment. For example, a seizure, a heart attack, or a stroke that led to an injury at work would all be considered idiopathic. Yet, it is not quite as simple as that. If you suffered from an idiopathic incident and you fell and hit your head on the floor, causing injury, then there is nothing to link your work to your injury. However, if you fell and hit your head on a desk or a machine that was connected to your work and might not have been there at home or anywhere else, then it is possible that you can fight for benefits if your claim is denied as idiopathic in nature.
The Injured Worker Carries the Burden of Proof in Workers’ Compensation Claims
There are many Atlanta, Georgia, workers’ compensation claims that hinge on a significant key factor of the case.
And it is up to the injured worker to prove that their injury was actually work related. A perfect example can be seen in the case of a woman who was working as an EMT. She had just returned from an emergency call for help, and she was filling out the necessary paperwork from that incident. She then sat at a desk while she remained on call, waiting for the next emergency to call her away.
When her supervisor came into the room, she stood up to allow her to use the desk. On standing, her knee gave out, and she ended up seeking emergency room treatment, where she discovered that she needed knee surgery. She filed a workers’ compensation claim, and the claim was initially approved. Simply being at work allowed for the approval according to an administrative judge. Yet, the employer disagreed. The employer actually appealed the case because they believed the injury was idiopathic.
The trick for the worker was to try to prove a causal link between her work related tasks and the injury that she sustained. She argued that she stood up in order to allow someone else at work to use the desk, and that the injury occurred on standing, making it eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. The employer argued that the knee injury could have occurred anywhere, at any time. But how could she do that? If she had stood up because an alarm went off, then this could be seen as a causal factor, related to her employment. But this was not the case. Her argument was that standing up at the request of her supervisor was enough to prove it was a work related injury, and she could have been successful with that argument, except that she was not. Ultimately, the court determined that she did not meet her burden of proof, her injury was idiopathic, rather than work related, and her claim was denied.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that it couldn’t have turned out the other way. Every case is different. With the representation of a skilled and experienced Atlanta, Georgia, workers’ compensation attorney, each injured worker can make the strongest case possible, and things may work out in your favor.
Exceptions Concerning the Increased Risk of Injury in Atlanta, Georgia, Workers’ Comp Claims
To illustrate the exceptions to the general rule against providing coverage for idiopathic injuries, we can look at a few more examples. In one case, an employee had a seizure, due to epilepsy. This would typically be seen as an idiopathic condition. Yet, in this case, there was a work table with sharp edges in the location where the worker fell down. He struck his head on that sharp edge, and the presence of the hazardous work table allowed him to recover workers’ compensation benefits for what would otherwise have been denied as an idiopathic condition situation. The same would apply if the worker had fallen down stairs at work or struck any other work related object on their way down. Heights, machinery, work tables, and more could be viewed as particular hazards in the work place.
On the other hand, another case involved an employee fainting and striking her head on the floor. Because there are floors wherever you go, this was not found to be a work related hazard. If she had fainted at home, she would have also struck a floor. If she had fainted at the store, she would have also hit the floor. Unless she were to strike something else, in which case, she might have a valid personal injury claim. In this case, where she fainted at work, she did not get the benefits that she sought.
Knee injuries come up frequently in these situations because knees are known for going bad with age and over use. It is not uncommon for someone’s knee to pop, give out, or even require surgery for reasons that may or may not be related to work. This is one of the most frequently seen idiopathic injuries in denied workers’ compensation claims. It can be very difficult to prove that your work environment or tasks resulted in a knee injury. If you can’t establish that you fell, that you hit your knee on a work related object, or that you were involved in work related tasks that directly caused the injury, it can be very difficult to get a workers’ compensation claim approved.
Contact the Bader Law Firm to Discuss Your Case with an Atlanta, Georgia, Workers’ Comp Attorney
The best thing that you can do if you are facing an injury that may be work related or may be considered to be idiopathic is to contact an Atlanta, Georgia, workers’ compensation attorney to get a free case evaluation. We can help by taking a close look at your claim and the injury, and determining how best to argue your case when it comes to getting your workers’ compensation claim approved. Call the Bader Law Firm to schedule your free case evaluation today.