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West Georgia Workers' Compensation and Personal Injury Blog

Should first responders have coverage for PTSD?

Following this tragedy, the officer began suffering from symptoms similar to those of war veterans and others who have suffered trauma: nightmares, flashbacks, depression and anxiety. The officer had Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). He was unable to return to work. However, under Florida workers' compensation law, first responders cannot receive benefits for a mental condition if it is not also accompanied by a physical condition. As a result, the officer has been out of work without any support.

In the two years since this tragedy, multiple states across the country have pushed to expand workers' compensation coverage to include PTSD for first responders. In Georgia, like Florida, a mental injury is not covered under workers' compensation unless it is also accompanied by a physical injury. Georgia has not yet made any move to change its legislation on the matter although neighboring states have taken action. South Carolina passed legislation last year granting PTSD benefits to first responders. Florida has drafted similar legislation, which just made its way to the governor's desk.

The question of whether first responders should be entitled to PTSD benefits is gaining traction across the United States. What do you think? Share your opinion with us.

Georgia workers' comp covers firefighters for cancer treatment

There has been a national push in recent years to increase workers' compensation for firefighters. Due to the inherently risky nature of the work, supporters of the campaign held that firefighters should be entitled to additional coverage for special types of work-related injuries. In particular, they wanted firefighter workers' compensation to cover cancer treatment.

Firefighters are exposed to significant risks on a daily basis. In addition to the potential for smoke inhalation and burns, there are also considerable other health risks. Much of modern day construction utilizes synthetic building materials, and when such materials burn, they emit harmful chemicals. Exposure to such chemicals has been shown to cause cancer and other serious diseases.

Underreported distracted driving stats

Are you aware that we are more than halfway through National Distracted Driving Awareness Month? If not, you're not alone. Smart phones are extensions of our lives, tools that are part of daily life to the point we sometimes don't notice them. They're also killers on the road, hence the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's "U Drive. U Text. U Pay" ad campaign.

Roughly one-quarter of all accidents involve a distracted driver using a cell phone. Use includes texting, talking, setting GPS instructions and even browsing social media and the web. Last year, 3,450 people were killed by distracted drivers.

When you're involved in a bicycle hit and run in Georgia

You're bicycling home one night after a long day at work. You're riding in the designated bike lane, you're wearing a helmet and your head and tail lights are on.

Suddenly, the SUV beside you swerves abruptly to the right, colliding into you from the side. You're thrown from your bicycle and land hard onto the pavement. You sustain a broken leg and collarbone as well as damage to your shoulder. Stunned, you look up to get your bearings, only to see the SUV's taillights growing smaller in the distance.

Concerns about doctor bias in workers' compensation evaluations

Vanessa Sylva is a 54-year-old, former chef in Hawaii. She spent much of her career working for a large-scale catering company--sometimes working as many as 80 hours a week. Her work caused her to suffer tears in each shoulder and numbness down her arms, making it nearly impossible for her to use her hands. After filing a workers' compensation claim, she was examined by Dr. Leonard Cupo--a doctor selected and paid for by the workers' comp insurance company. She was denied treatment for nearly a decade, leaving her in chronic pain and restricting her to her home, unable to engage in even simple activities such as playing cards.

The reason--according to a recent lawsuit--is Hawaii's workers' compensation law, which allows insurance companies to select the doctors they want to conduct insurance exams. It is the insurance company that pays the doctor--and Hawaii has no limits on how much they can pay. In the case of Cupo, plaintiffs have argued that he received so much from insurance companies, it would have been impossible for him to be objective. Under such circumstances, incentive is high for doctors to deliver findings that enable insurers to veto claims or deny treatments.

How could medical marijuana impact workers' comp?

Marijuana is becoming increasingly legalized across the United States. To date, 29 states and Washington DC have legalized marijuana for medicinal purposes, and nine states permit the recreational use of the drug. And the numbers keep rising.

In Georgia, patients with certain medical conditions may legally obtain cannabis oil as treatment. The city of Atlanta voted to decriminalize the drug last October. In addition, a new bill is currently working its way through congress which--if it passes--would legalize marijuana across the state.

Legal impacts if you're in a crash without wearing a seat belt

You're heading home one night after seeing a movie with some friends. Just as you pull out of the theater parking lot into the road, a speeding driver runs a red light and plows into your passenger side door. Your body is thrust hard into the driver side door. You suffer a concussion, whiplash and a broken collarbone. You know the other driver broke at least two traffic laws-speeding and running through a red light. They're clearly at fault, right?

There's just one complicating wrinkle. You didn't fasten your seat belt before you left the parking lot-which is also a violation of Georgia law. Today we examine how this failure could impact your case:

Workplace slip and falls: more common than you might expect

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently released some startling statistics on workplace injuries. Slip and fall accidents:

· Are the #1 cause of workers' compensation claims.

· Are the #1 reason for missed work-22 percent of cases result in more than a month of missed work.

· Are the #1 cause of death in the construction industry-with most fatalities occurring in workers ages 45-54, and more than one-third of fatal falls occurring from a height of under 15 feet.

Electrocution deaths in construction still a problem

Electrical workers and other construction workers come into contact with electrical equipment and electrical wiring on job sites daily. Although the number of electrocution fatalities is decreasing, exposure to electricity still kills nearly 150 construction workers annually and most deaths are preventable.

Study finds depression increases work-related injuries for women

According to the latest census data, women account for 57.9 percent of Georgia's workforce. Working women often juggle the demands of home and work, which can be stressful. While not always the case, the constant balancing act between shifting priorities can lead to mental health concerns.

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