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West Georgia Workers' Compensation and Personal Injury Blog

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.

Commercial truckers are at high risk for workplace injuries

Commercial trucking accidents are often so dangerous due to the size difference between the vehicles; a truck can weigh as much as 30 times more than a passenger vehicle. When a collision happens, the truck drivers often survive simply because they are behind the wheel of the larger vehicle. However, the U.S. Department of Labor reports that injuries and fatalities happen more in commercial trucking than in any other industry.

Comparative negligence options for injured gig economy workers

In the decade since the economic recession, the U.S has seen an explosion in a new category of jobs and workers associated with the gig economy. Gig economy workers, often categorized as independent contractors, miss out on the safety net of basic protections awarded to standard employees.

Independent contractors are subject to lower wages and the burden of carrying their own health insurance. Additionally, independent contractors are often ineligible for workers' compensation. When gig economy workers are injured on the job, it may be possible to hold an employer liable for negligence in order to collect damages.

Fatal workplace injuries on the rise

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has released a new report showing a 7-percent jump in fatal workplace injuries between 2015 and 2016. It cited transportation as the most common cause of death on the job-accounting for about two-fifths of all incidences. Violence in the workplace rose 23 percent in the last year, making it the second most common cause of death at work.

The report outlines other notable trends. Slip and fall fatalities went up 25 percent between 2011 and 2016. In 2016 alone, individuals who work at high heights (e.g., tree trimmers, carpenters, roofers) as well as truck drivers experienced a more than 25 percent increase in falls. In addition, workers suffering overdoses on the job spiked 32 percent in 2016.

How to fall correctly

When you think of the dangers of slip and fall accidents, you might expect the serious risks to be borne by construction workers and other people who spend their days working on high ladders, rooftops and other high-risk environments. For the average Joe going about their daily routine, you might only expect a slip and fall accident to result in a sprained ankle or a bruised knee.

However, slip and fall accidents are the most common cause of emergency room visits--about 8 million visits per year. Falls lead to half of all accidental deaths occurring in the home--and most of these happen at ground level. More than 2 million slip and fall injuries per year are the result of the impact with the floor.  

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