Atlanta Workers' Compensation Lawyer
Is Your Injury a
An Atlanta workers' compensation lawyer at McAleer Law frequently seek what is called a "catastrophic designation" from the State Board of Workers' Compensation ("Board").
What does "Catastrophic Injury" mean? Georgia workers' compensation law defines a catastrophic injury as either:
- The amputation of an appendage such that there is loss of use of the appendage
- Second or third degree burns over 25 percent of the body
- Third degree burns to 5 percent or more of the face or hands
- Total or industrial blindness, or
- (g)(6)(A) "Any other injury . . . that prevents the employee from being able to perform his or her prior work and any work available in substantial numbers within the national economy for which such employee is . . . qualified . . ."
If we believe a client has been catastrophically injured but the employer / insurer does not, we prepare and file the board form WC-R1 or a Motion seeking catastrophic designation and in almost all cases where this is done, the employer or insurer will file an objection arguing that your case is not a catastrophic one.
The Board's policy is to refer the matter to the Managed Care and Rehabilitation Division ("Division") for an administrative determination. The fact that an employee may be receiving Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits will not automatically entitle the employee to catastrophic designation from the Division. It will be necessary to show that the employee was found disabled due to his or her work related injuries.
Whatever decision is made by the Division, any party dissatisfied with the decision can request a full evidentiary hearing by filing a WC-14 hearing request within fifteen days of the Division's administrative decision.
Most catastrophic cases that are litigated are cases involving the catch-all (g)(6) designation mentioned above.
When litigating the (g)(6) designation, three issues are involved. The first asks whether the individual is capable of performing his prior work. Under Social Security Disability rules, prior work is defined as any work performed by the individual within the past fifteen years. For purposes of workers compensation, this may be limited to any work the individual performed for the employer of injury, or the job title that the individual had at the time of the work injury. This "prior work" issue is resolved by considering the restrictions imposed upon the injured worker by the authorized or other physician, by the individual's testimony, or by any other means.
The second and third issues are to be taken together and involve litigating matters that are not ordinarily litigated in workers compensation cases. This deals with the hypothetical question as to whether the employee is capable of performing other jobs available in substantial numbers in the national economy. The two issues to be developed are the individual's physical ability to perform other jobs and his vocational ability to perform other jobs. Although a physician may give his opinion concerning the second issue, evaluation of an individual's vocational ability is beyond the expertise of a physician.
Catastrophic Injury Attorney in Atlanta
Other factors such as age and education are also considered as well as work skills obtained from past relevant work. The injured worker may have an injury under (g)(6) which is so disabling as to prevent the employee from engaging in any legitimate job in a normal competitive work environment regardless of vocational abilities. If such is the case, it will not be necessary to develop the vocational record.
Litigating catastrophic injuries before the Board is the most complex area of Georgia workers' compensation law.
If you believe you suffer from a catastrophic injury, contact an Atlanta workers' compensation attorney at McAleer Law.