Tolling the Statute of Limitations by Paying Benefits

Recently, the Ramos Law Firm was asked whether the payment of salary paid due to an occupational injury qualified as income benefits for the purposes of tolling the statute of limitations.  Particularly, an Atlanta employer paid an injured employee two weeks of salary on account of a work injury.  After one year, the injured employee desired to file a workers’ compensation claim.  However, the workers’ compensation insurance adjuster denied the claim as being beyond the statute of limitations under O.C.G.A. 34-9-82. The adjuster incorrectly denied the case.  Under O.C.G.A. 34-9-82, the employee’s “right to compensation shall be barred unless a claim therefore is filed within one year after the injury, except that if payment of weekly benefits has been made or remedial treatment has been furnished by the employer…” In relation to this particular question, the payment of salary paid “on account of the injury” is considered “weekly benefits” under the Act.  See, Harper v. L&M Granite Co., 197 Ga. App. 157 (1990). Therefore, the injured employee’s statute of limitations did not run and he was entitled to move forward with his claim with the Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation in Atlanta.  If you are approaching one year after your date of injury, please contact the Ramos Law Firm right away so that we can determine if a claim should be filed to protect your statute. If your injury occurred over a year ago, contact us today for a free consultation to determine if you have been barred by the above...

How will I get paid after my work injury while I’m on workers’ compensation leave?

When an injured worker is not able to return back to work because of a work injury, the hurt employee may be deemed “totally disabled.”  Should this occur, the employee hurt at work may be entitled to money benefits under O.C.G.A. § 34-9-261.  The amount of money the employee would be entitled to depends upon his or her “average weekly wage”.  The law provides that the employee may receive two-thirds of the average weekly wage.  However, the workers’ compensation law provides that the maximum amount the employee may receive on a weekly basis is $525 presuming the injury occurred on or after July 1, 2013 regardless of how much the injured employee was making.  O.C.G.A. § 34-9-260. If you have any questions about your average weekly wage or other money benefits you think you may be entitled to, please contact the Ramos Law Firm at...

What is my workers’ compensation claim worth?

The answer to this question depends on a number of factors uniquely tied to each case. Generally, the claim’s “value” rests on the injured workers’ average weekly wage, the length of time the claimant has been out of work, and of course, the severity of the injury. From a legal standpoint, the issue of whether the accident was work-related is also very important.  If the accident did not happen at work, then the value of the case decreases as the Employer/Insurer will disclaim any responsibility or “controvert” liability. On the other hand, if the case is accepted under the workers’ compensation system, then the insurance company will “be on the hook” for benefits.  The benefits that the Employer/Insurer will be responsible for will be weekly income benefits (not full wages but rather the workers’ compensation rate) and medical / rehabilitation benefits.  It is important to note that there is no “pain and suffering” benefits allowed under the workers’ compensation system. The value of the case will be determined on what the Employer/Insurer may be responsible for paying in the future. If you have any questions about what your case is “worth”, please feel free to contact the Ramos Law...

A typical workers compensation claim when an employee suffers back strain or herniation

A common workers’ compensation scenario involving a back injury goes like this: The injured worker will feel pain in his back or spine, be directed to a Concentra, Urgent Care, or Choice Care in Atlanta or DeKalb County, and the “doctor” may dismiss the worker with a “back strain or sprain.”  Hopefully, an x-ray will be done and the worker will be given some prescription medication.  However, the injured worker may remain in pain.  After a few days, the employee (hurt at work) would return to the industrial clinic complaining of pain.  Hopefully, an MRI would done. If the MRI scan demonstrates a disc herniation, this means that there may be a tear in the outer ring of a spinal disc.  Generally, inflammation may occur and cause pain.  The symptoms may depend on the level where the herniation occurred and whether it is touching a nerve.  For example, a herniation in the low back may cause pain in the buttocks or down the injured worker’s legs.  Treatment for back pain may include physical therapy, and potentially surgery.  It is important that injured workers understand their course of treatment and options. If the employee’s pain is bad enough that he or she is losing time from work, he or she may be entitled to income benefits under the Georgia Workers’ Compensation Act, in addition to the medical treatment (provided at the expense of the Employer/Insurer).  There also may be a permanent impairment rating issued  at some point in the life of the claim. The employee tends to feel lost between the pain level, trying to maintain their life and navigate...

What is Compensation for Permanent Partial Disability (PPD)?

The law defines PPD as a disability partial in character but permanent in quality resulting in a loss or loss of use of body members or from the partial loss of use of the injured employee’s body.  In other words, the PPD rating is a medical assessment as to whether the work injury permanently affected the injured worker’s range of motion or overall body functioning.  Generally, the PPD rating is issued by the authorized treating physician after the injured employee reaches “maximum medical improvement” where the employee is “about as good as he or she is going to get.”  The physician will make the determination of the PPD rating by using the American Medical Associations’ Guide to Impairment.  This rating will be issued in percentage compared to overall functioning. Georgia’s Workers’ Compensation Act provides compensation in relation to the physician’s impairment assessment.  This table is found in O.C.G.A. §34-9-263.  In certain circumstances, doctors may disagree as to the ratings and they can differ.  Also, you may have the option of seeking a second opinion.  If you have any questions about the PPD rating, please contact me at...