If I settle my Workers’ Compensation Claim, am I still entitled to my pension and retirement benefits?

When an employee settles his or her workers’ compensation claim, the Employer/Insurer usually requires the employee voluntarily resign.  At the settlement, many employees become concerned about their pension and/or retirement benefits, such as flight privileges, monetary bonuses, health insurance coverage, disability insurance coverage and numerous other perks.  Often times, employees have worked hard for these benefits and do not want to forgo benefits that have taken years to earn.  Employees’ concerns about waiving rights to retirement benefits is valid, and such concerns should be discussed with a workers’ compensation attorney during the initial consultation. The aforementioned retirement benefits are considered contractual benefits which fall outside the scope of the Georgia Workers’ Compensation Act. Workers’ compensation attorneys will explain to their clients at the inception of a claim that several additional claims may arise out of a workers ‘ compensation claim, such as violations of ERISA or COBRA.  Often times ERISA or COBRA violations are tangentially related to a claim for compensation and will not be handled by a workers ‘ compensation attorney. For example, an employee may be confronted with a violation of ERISA or the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 with regards to an employer denying the employee access to health benefits.  ERISA was enacted to ensure that Employers uphold their legal obligations to their employees with regards to health insurance plans.  Most employee health plans are covered by ERISA and require that employers provide participants or beneficiaries (employees and their  dependents) with access to plan information.  Additionally, ERISA also requires employers uphold their fiduciary responsibility to their employees by ensuring employers properly manage and oversee...

Ramos Law Firm Members Help Make Wishes Come True

The Ramos Law Firm participated in the 2009 Walk For Wishes for the Make-A-Wish Foundation on Saturday, April 25, 2009, at Atlantic Station.  The Walk kicked-off with music, food, and stories from the children benefitting from the event.  Other teams included participants from Concentra Medical Clinic, Kohl’s, GMAC, and Carter Properties. The Walk was approximately two miles long which wrapped around Atlantic Station.  “Our workers’ compensation attorneys are active in the community, and I am glad that we were able to lend a hand today,” Bryan Ramos commented. The Make-A-Wish Foundation® grants the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions to enrich the human experience with hope, strength, and joy. The Foundation is the largest wish-granting charity in the world, with 69 chapters in the U.S. and its territories. Granting more than 12,500 wishes a year and 141,000 wishes in the United States since inception, the Make-A-Wish Foundation® grants one wish every 41 minutes. The Ramos Law Firm team was able to raise approximately $2,000 in pledges and donations to assist in the Make-A-Wish Foundation mission.  The workers’ compensation attorneys who participated were Bryan Ramos and Julia Lindsey.  The remainder of the Ramos Law Firm team members consisted of The Lindsey family (some of which were in strollers), Lindsay Nail (RLF staff member), Kathy Rhinehart, Mariann Pate, Karen Smith, Elaine Taylor, Cynthia Pagano, Marcia Lewis, Timothy Clements, and Annette Simelaro. For more information on how you can help, please visit...

Alumni Leaders Week at Johnson & Wales University

Most people probably have the notion that their attorney went to high school, undergrad, law school, and began practicing right away.  That is not necessarily the case. After I received my undergraduate degree at Ohio Wesleyan University, I attended Johnson & Wales University, where I received a degree in culinary arts.  In fact, I cooked professionally for some time before deciding to go on to law school. Johnson & Wales University is far more than a culinary institution.  It has a school of hospitality and a business school as well.  Once a year, I am asked to return to Johnson & Wales University at their Charlotte, North Carolina campus to lecture both business and hospitality school students on hospitality law.  It is part of Johnson & Wales University Alumni Leaders Week. I enjoy lecturing the students, not only because I know I am providing an example of the many different kinds of careers one can choose after receiving their degree, but also because I enjoy the opportunity to have an open forum with a large group of young people about to enter the workforce about their understanding of workers’ compensation law.  From the discussions I’ve had, it is clear that workers’ compensation is something people do not know enough about.  Perhaps this is why there is so much workers’ compensation litigation across the country.  My lectures strive not necessarily to give the students a comprehensive understanding of workers’ compensation law, but rather to encourage them to learn about the rights and responsibilities of both employers and employees with regard to workers’ compensation.  To extend that further, I certainly believe...

Are grandchildren considered dependents and eligible to receive death benefits?

In society today, it is not unusual to see grandchildren living with their grandparents.  Under the workers’ compensation laws are grandchildren considered dependents?  Biological children of an employee that are under age 18 are considered dependents. Pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 34-9-13, a “child” also includes dependent stepchildren, legally adopted children, posthumous children, and acknowledged children born out of wedlock.  Married children are not considered dependents. As for grandchildren, O.C.G.A. § 34-9-13(d) states that in all other cases, questions of dependency shall be determined in accordance with the facts at the time of the accident.  Also, no compensation shall be allowed unless the dependency existed for a period of three months or more prior to the accident. Facts: An employee gets injured while working on September 11, 1998.  He received workers’ compensation benefits for his injury.  On February 14, 2000, the employee’s grandson moved into his home to live.  On August 17, 2006, the employee’s injury was deemed as catastrophic.  On October 2, 2006, the employee dies due to complications related to his work injury.  Is the grandson eligible considered a dependent and entitled death benefits? If we apply the workers’ compensation rules to our fact pattern, the grandson that moved in with the employee on February 14, 2000 is NOT eligible for death benefits.  While the grandson would be considered a dependent if he moved in and received financial support from his grandfather/employee, he was not a dependent at the time of the accident on September 11, 1998.  Dependency is determined at the time of the accident which in this case was 2 years before the grandson moved in...

Providing Information To Your Workers’ Compensation Attorney To Help Your Claim

In preparing to discuss a claim with a workers’ compensation attorney, it is important for the injured worker to gather up all the information about the injury he or she can to provide to the attorney.  However, it does not stop there.  In assessing a litigation strategy in a workers’ compensation claim, it is important for the attorney to have an understanding of the injured worker’s total circumstances.  By that, I mean that the injured worker should not only be prepared to discuss the injury itself, but the overall financial effect the injury is having on his or her life.  Some of the information that is very important to the attorney includes: Sources of income outside of the injured worker’s employment. Whether the injured worker has access to group insurance coverage if he or she were to resign or lose the job. How much the injured worker reasonably requires in income to live. Whether there are any immediate financial emergencies, such as the mortgage being in arrears. Whether resignation from the job is a viable option. Whether the injured worker believes he or she can find employment upon recovery from the injury. This is far from an exhaustive list of the information that is useful to the attorney when assessing a litigation strategy.  It can make a very large difference in choosing the course of action, such as remaining on benefits versus settlement.  There also may be other actions outside of the workers’ compensation arena that must be taken.  The attorney can likely assist the injured worker in finding additional professional assistance, if necessary. Remember, a workers’ compensation attorney...