Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Teleconference Initiative

In an effort to “expedite” the resolution of certain issues, the State Board of Workers’ Compensation has recently implemented a “conference call” vehicle to assist injured workers and insurers. Essentially, attorneys may call the Board and request a conference call with the presiding administrative law judge (ALJ) assigned to the claim.  If there is no ALJ assigned to the case, the State Board of Workers’ Compensation will assign a case accordingly.  These ALJ’s are empowered to address the resolution of medical issues or other claims that have NOT been “controverted” by the Employer/Insurer.  The primary purpose of this vehicle is to reach an answer without an evidentiary hearing.  The Board has included issues such as problems obtaining medication prescribed by the authorized treating physician; payment of unpaid medical bills; or accidental suspension of benefits.  The Board also indicated that this conference call vehicle should NOT be used for change of physician requests or other issues where the submission of evidence is required. If one party requests the conference call, the other party’s participation is mandatory unless otherwise excused by the presiding judge.  Once the conference call is scheduled and the parties are notified via email to initiate the call, failure to participate may result in monetary penalties.  The Board requires 24-hour prior notice and a valid reason to avoid potential sanctions.  The workers’ compensation board “encourages” all parties to work together with the judge’s calendar. It is the Ramos Law Firm’s hope that this new vehicle will assist injured workers’ in securing prompt medical treatment or resolution of a pending issue in his or her workers’ compensation...

Workers in the automotive industry at risk for more than just blunt trauma injuries

As of January 3, 2012, Kia Motors Manufacturing in Georgia indicated that it finished its $100 million expansion to boost annual production.  Automotive jobs are labor intensive and often dangerous.  While the obvious, blunt traumatic injury occurring on the job should be covered under workers’ compensation, repetitive motion injuries are also covered under the workers’ compensation system.  For example, carpal tunnel syndrome or rotator cuff tears are common injuries that autoworkers experience.  While there is no one “accident” that caused the repetitive injury, the continuous use of the hands or arms may have had a cumulative effect precipitating the injury.  These injuries could also affect the legs and feet.  For example, instead of carpal tunnel syndrome, the injured worker may have “tarsal” tunnel syndrome. Proving these occupational injuries can be challenging.  In short, the workers’ compensation judges will rely on the medical evidence, the injured workers’ reports to the supervisor or the human resource departments, as well as the type of job the employee had.  Furthermore, the workers’ comp judge will consider how long the employee was working that job.  The longer the injured employee worked the repetitive motion job, the better chances he or she has in proving the claim. If you have been hurt while working on an assembly line at Kia or any other Georgia employee and you would like a free consultation about your workers’ compensation rights, please contact the Ramos Law...

Sears Closes Stores

Sears announced that it will close six Georgia stores as follows: Sears in Macon; Kmart in Atlanta, Buford, Columbus, Douglasville and Jonesboro. Florida will be hit the hardest by the closing of Sears and Kmart stores, losing 11, according to a preliminary list of 79 planned closures released Thursday. Ohio and Michigan have six store closures planned in their states. Tennessee, North Carolina and Minnesota are set to lose four stores each. In Georgia, we suspect that these closures will produce a substantial amount of lay-offs including employees injured on the job. It is important to note that these injured employees who have been laid off have certain responsibilities before workers’ compensation benefits are started. It is recommended that these injured employees return to their authorized treating physician immediately. This will help certify their work restrictions. Subsequently, we recommend that the laid off and injured workers begin to document a search for employment within the recently certified work restrictions. Additionally, it would be prudent to seek unemployment benefits. Those Georgia workers’ desiring a free consultation regarding their rights under workers’ compensation should call the Ramos Law...