After a workplace injury, many employees are able to get medical help, heal, rehabilitate and return to their jobs after a reasonable amount of time. For some workers, however, the injury is so serious and so life altering that a return to work is impossible.
Catastrophic injuries often involve years of medical treatment, caregiving needs and rehabilitation. Injured workers may require retrofitting to their homes and accessible vehicles. Family members may have to take on more work to meet income needs or leave the workforce to care for the injured individual. For these reasons and more, workers’ compensation claims involving catastrophic injuries are quite complex. So what are catastrophic injuries, and how does Georgia define them from a workers’ comp standpoint?
What are catastrophic injuries?
In Georgia, an injury can be serious and require years of treatment without being officially considered catastrophic. The state has limits on how long regular workers’ compensation benefits are available to injured workers, capping them at 400 weeks. If the injury is catastrophic, however, benefits may continue indefinitely.
Georgia law defines the following injuries as catastrophic:
- Spinal cord injuries involving severe paralysis of an arm, a leg or the trunk
- Amputation of an arm, hand, foot or leg
- Severe brain or closed head injuries (resulting in problems like severe communication disturbances or disturbances of consciousness)
- Second or third degree burns covering more than 25 percent of the body, or third degree burns affecting at least 5 percent of the face or hands
- Total or industrial blindness
Additionally, the state expects that in order to meet the catastrophic definition, the worker cannot return to prior work or other work that’s widely available within the national economy.
Catastrophic injury challenges
Catastrophic injuries pose unique challenges to workers’ compensation cases. That’s because while it may be clear that the injury took place at work, the complexity of the medical care often makes the claims process quite complicated. Insurance companies are also more likely to push back—challenging diagnoses or questioning the employee’s inability to return to work—when there’s the expense of a lifetime of care on the line.
An expert catastrophic injury lawyer understands how much pressure and scrutiny these types of cases receive. It’s critical to have the correct specialists to testify about your condition and your challenges at work.
Due to the nature of these injuries, family members often take on the role of pursuing the benefits that give their loved ones the best care and the best quality of life possible. We understand how heart wrenching these cases are, and we handle each one with sensitivity.
Georgia Workers’ Compensation Attorneys
If your family is facing a catastrophic injury, you need a workers’ comp lawyer who understands the complexities of these cases. Contact the Law Offices of Laura Lanzisera today for a free consultation, or give us a call at 404-991-5097.