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West Georgia Workers' Compensation and Personal Injury Blog

The benefits of company policies against drowsy driving

In 2014, an inattentive Walmart truck driver crashed his tractor-trailer into the bus of comic superstar Tracy Morgan. Morgan sustained serious brain injury and another passenger--comedian James McNair--was tragically killed. The driver of the truck claimed that his response time on the road was compromised due to the fact that he had been working without sleep for more than 24 hours.

While the story of Morgan's accident made headlines, such accidents resulting from drowsy driving are all too common. According to estimates by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), drowsy driving is the culprit in more than 100,000 accidents each year.

Chipotle worker fired for making work comp claim awarded $8 million

Workers' compensation is supposed to help workers injured in workplace accidents make ends meet while they recover and cannot work. The purpose of workers' compensation is to provide injured workers with a fixed monetary recovery without having to litigate their claim with an employer.

If you know anything about litigation, results and resolutions do not occur quickly and it is not uncommon for some lawsuits to take years to resolve. Meanwhile, an injured worker has no income and no reasonable way to fight for a monetary award through the courts. As such, workers' compensation is an important process for injured workers.

State law requires employers to pay into the state's workers' compensation fund. But this does not mean that employers are happy about employers bringing work comp claims. In fact, a recent verdict from a California state court exemplifies the lengths employers may go to avoid paying an employee's claim.

Why you should turn your phone on silent when driving

You're driving down the freeway to work. It's rush hour, making traffic unpredictable and requiring you to concentrate harder. On top of that, you haven't had your morning coffee yet, and you're aware that you're not as alert as you should be.

But suddenly something happens, which causes these safety concerns to disintegrate from your mind: you hear that alluring ping of an incoming message on your phone. You reach into your pocket to take a quick glance at your notifications. At this precise moment, the car in front of you slams on the brakes, and you rear-end them.

COSH report: most dangerous workplaces in the nation

Last week was Workers' Memorial Week--a time dedicated to commemorating all of the workers who died preventable deaths on the job. The National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (National COSH) released a report which outlines what it considers to be the most dangerous workplaces in the U.S.

Three of the companies on National COSH's "dirty dozen" list are notable because of their size and prominence. They employ workers on a large scale across the nation:

Hands-Free Georgia Act signed into law

On April 22, 2015 a distracted truck driver in Statesboro collided his tractor-trailer into an SUV containing seven nursing students at Georgia Southern University--killing five and severely injuring two of the SUV's occupants. The driver was convicted of vehicular homicide and is currently serving a five-year prison sentence.

Today--nearly three years to the day since the tragedy occurred--Governor Nathan Deal signed House Bill 673 into law, which aims to combat the distracted driving problem on our roadways.

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.

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