Unfortunately, some workers’ compensation recipients suffer a second and unrelated accident while under care for their work injury. It would almost appear the insurance companies wait (and pray) for that to happen in hopes of cutting off the injured worker’s compensation benefits.
We have had many clients who had the unfortunate experience of being in a car accident on their way to the grocery store or even to their physical therapy appointment. In one case, the injured worker suffered a compensable injury to his back and had an open work comp claim. He played a few rounds of golf wherein he aggravated his back. In those cases, the insurance companies seek to assert O.C.G.A. §34-9-204 which holds that a suspension of benefits may be warranted if an employee has a subsequent, non-work-related accident which breaks the chain of causation between the occupational injury and the injured worker’s disability. See also, Hallisey v. Fort Howard Paper Co., 268 Ga. 57 (1997).
In order to keep workers’ compensation benefits from being stopped, the injured employee needs to demonstrate that the “chain of causation” for the claim was not broken.
This will likely depend upon the medical evidence and expert opinions of the doctors. Obviously, the insurance company may compel the injured employee to a known doctor such as Dr. Hal Silcox at Peachtree Orthopaedic or Dr. Philip Ploska at Resurgens in order to obtain an opinion sympathetic to their side. Conversely, the injured worker will be required to secure medical evidence proving that the second injury was either temporary or insignificant. Generally, the injured worker’s authorized treating physician would hold more weight with the administrative law judge. However, every case is different.
If you are recovering from a work injury such as a spinal cord, knee, or, shoulder injury, receiving worker’s comp and have now suffered a second injury away from work, it would be in your best interest to contact the Ramos Law Firm for your free workers’ compensation consultation.