Workers in Savannah who sustain serious injuries on the job and the families of fatally injured workers are eligible for workers’ compensation death or catastrophic injury benefits under Georgia workers’ compensation laws.
It is important to mention right away that it may not be easy to get a determination that your injury is catastrophic when you file a workers’ compensation claim. Your injury must meet specific speculations in order to be deemed catastrophic – at least in the eyes of the insurers. Many insurance companies are reluctant to label a case as catastrophic without ample, clear, and compelling evidence of such. They know they would have to shell out a disability check for years to come.
If your injury is severe, have the Bader Law Firm in Savannah assist you to ensure you get the determination and benefits you deserve.
What does Georgia consider a catastrophic injury?
The laws that define “catastrophic injury” for the purposes of workers’ compensation cases are located in Georgia Code § 34-9-200.1(g). The statues provide six broad categories of injuries that may merit a catastrophic injury determination.
- Spinal cord injury with severe paralysis of an arm, a leg, or the trunk
- Amputation of a hand, foot, arm, or leg
- Severe brain or closed head injury (must have severe sensory, motor, or communication disturbances; severe disturbances of consciousness; or severe episodic neurological disorders)
- Severe burns (must have either second or third degree burns over 25 percent of the body as a whole, or third degree burns on five percent or more of the face and/or hands)
- Total blindness or blindness that keeps a worker from pursuing an occupation
- “Any other injury 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.”
Note that the last category leaves a great deal of leeway and room for discretion.
What kinds of workers’ compensation benefits are available for catastrophic injuries?
When you sustain a catastrophic work injury, you are entitled to several types of benefits.
- Medical benefits – Workers’ compensation will pay for all of your current and future medical bills related to your work injuries.
- Wage replacement – You are also entitled to a weekly wage replacement check. The amount of your check will be equal to two-thirds of your pre-injury wages. While workers with non-catastrophic injuries can only receive disability checks for up to 400 weeks, those with catastrophic injuries are entitled to benefits as long as they are unable to work. In other words, benefits can potentially continue indefinitely.
- Vocational rehabilitation benefits – If you can no longer work in the same capacity as you did prior to your injury, but there is potential for you to learn new skills and re-enter the workforce, you will have access to free vocational rehabilitation benefits as well. This may include career assessments, job training, education, job placement services, and interview coaching.
What am I entitled to if my loved one died from a work-related injury?
If your loved one died in a work accident or as a result of a work-related condition, you are also entitled to benefits under workers’ compensation. In order to qualify, you must legally be considered a “dependent,” such as a spouse, minor child, or verifiably dependent parent.
There are three types of death benefits you can receive.
- Medical expenses – The reasonable medical expenses related to your loved one’s work injuries or illness prior to death. The Board mandates that these expenses be paid by the insurer directly to the providers.
- Income benefits – You can also receive a weekly check calculated at two-thirds of your loved one’s wages prior to the accident, subject to the state’s weekly maximum.
- Burial expenses – You can receive up to $7,500 in burial expenses.
Your benefits will cease when you remarry or cohabitate (if you are a surviving spouse); you turn 18 or turn 22 (if you are enrolled in school full-time); or your total payout has reached $150,000 (if you are a surviving spouse and the only dependent.)
What if the insurer wrongly categorizes my injury as non-catastrophic?
It is not uncommon to have the insurer label your condition as non-catastrophic even if you feel it is catastrophic. If this occurs and you disagree with the decision, you can request a hearing with an administrative law judge.
Call our work injury attorneys at the Bader Law Firm in Savannah for help with your case. We can help gather the medical evidence necessary to substantiate your claim and fight diligently to win the full amount of benefits to which you are entitled. Contact us today at 678-562-5595 for a free consultation.