Are you eligible for workers’ comp benefits after nerve damage on the job?
Nerve damage is a common work-related injury that can affect employees from all industries and backgrounds. It has many causes, including, but not limited to, sudden traumatic accidents and repetitive stress injuries.
Unfortunately, employers and insurance companies often downplay the extent, cause and severity of nerve damage with an intent to terminate or minimize your benefits. Here are the common causes of nerve damage as well as your workers’ compensation rights and benefits.
Common causes of nerve damage in the workplace
There are many causes of nerve damage, including:
- Repetitive stress injuries, such as sciatica, can include nerve damage that affects the lower back or buttock area. It’s caused by an injury, compression or irritation of the sciatic nerve. Excessive sitting or repetitive bending movements can cause this lower back injury.
- Autoimmune diseases, such as multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis, may be worsened by one’s working conditions, causing nerve pain and damage.
- Nerve compressions caused by traumatic accidents, such as car crashes and slip and fall accidents. The broken bones and tight casts can exert pressure on the nerves, causing further compression and damage.
- Pre-existing conditions, like diabetes, may be aggravated by workplace conditions and the environment. According to the Cleveland Clinic, 30 percent of all nerve damage cases are caused by diabetes.
Even if you are entitled to workers’ compensation, the insurer and employer may try to dispute your claim. In this case, you need an experienced workers’ compensation attorney to help you prove that the nerve damage was indeed work-related or aggravated by job tasks.
Symptoms and effects of work-related nerve damage
You can experience nerve damage in your back, limbs, joints or neck. The severity of the damage is dictated by the location and type of the affected nerves. These are some of the common symptoms:
- Spontaneous pain, which often lacks a trigger
- Shooting, stabbing or burning pain
- Triggered pain caused by normal activities, like stretching or combing your hair
- Numbness, tingling or pins and needles sensation
- Sleeping problems
- Emotional problems caused by severe pain and sleep problems
Nerve injuries may be extremely painful and devastating, and can temporarily or permanently disrupt your everyday life and ability to work. Some of the serious effects of nerve damage include paralysis, permanent disability or even fatality.
When the nerves are not permanently damaged, several treatment options include rest, rehabilitation, surgery and physical therapy. Either way, you should be able to recover from your financial losses through worker’s compensation benefits.
Workers’ rights regarding nerve damage compensation
Under the Georgia Workers’ Compensation Act, most workers are entitled to full and fair compensation for all types of work-related injuries, including nerve damage. With a clear understanding of your rights under the law, you stand a greater chance of recovering your benefits fully.
Hiring an experienced workers’ compensation attorney will help ensure that your rights are protected and secure the maximum possible benefits.
In addition, documenting all of your medical files that indicate the type of nerve damage you suffered helps strengthen your carpal tunnel, limb nerve damage or sciatic nerve damage compensation claim.
What benefits are available?
If eligible for workers’ compensation benefits, you should be able to recover benefits for lost income, loss of function, medical and therapy expenses. Unfortunately, because Georgia is a no-fault liability state, you are generally not compensated for the pain and suffering caused by the injury.
These benefits are intended to provide financial assistance when you or your loved one are hurt while on the job. In Georgia, workers’ comp covers the following expenses:
Weekly lost income compensation
Georgia employees are eligible for temporary and permanent disability weekly income benefits if an injury keeps them out of work for at least a week. These vary depending on the severity of the injury and its impact on your working capacity.
- Temporary total disability (TTD) benefits. These are offered when you can’t work at all. You can receive these benefits for a maximum of 400 weeks starting from the date of injury.
- Temporary partial disability (TPD) benefits. These are offered when you can go back to work at reduced capacity and reduced pay. It is the equivalent of two-thirds of your average weekly earnings.
- Permanent partial disability (PPD) benefits. These are available when you live with a disability from a work-related injury or an occupational disease. They’re only given when you are not receiving either TTD or TPD benefits.
Medical care (past and future)
Your employer’s workers’ compensation insurer must pay all of your medical bills in a company-approved medical institution. This works without coinsurance, a time limit or deductibles. They should keep paying until the doctor gives you a clean bill of health. These benefits normally consist of physical and occupational therapy, chiropractic treatment, diagnostic tests, assistive devices and prescription devices.
Vocational and medical rehabilitation
These programs are available to workers who suffer a catastrophic work-related injury. Rehabilitation specialists assist employees in medical care in an attempt to return to work through:
- On-the-job training
- Assistance in job searches
- Updating resumes
- Revamping interview skills
At Gerber and Holder, our Atlanta attorneys ensure that money is the least of your worries during this difficult time. That’s why we offer a free consultation with no obligation and provide personal attention while representing you to ensure you are fairly reimbursed for your work-related nerve damage.