A serious accident or death can change your life forever.
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Some workplace injuries and illnesses are so severe that a person is never able to return to work. In the worst cases, an accident can be so severe that it results in loss of life. The term “catastrophic” is used to describe the most severe injuries a person can suffer, resulting in the highest levels of pain, cost and impairment. Catastrophic injury cases differ from other personal injury cases in that it’s often much more difficult to calculate the long-term costs associated with a serious injury and demonstrate the true impact of the injury on the person’s life and their family.
Just because an injury is catastrophic doesn’t mean it’s visible. For instance, internal damage such as a traumatic brain injury or serious back injury may greatly impact a person’s quality of life, but they aren’t always evident to anyone other than the person suffering from these conditions.
In the workplace, serious accidents or occupational illnesses may result in expensive medical bills and prevent a person from being able to work, causing tremendous financial hardship and stress. With typical workers’ compensation claims, 400 weeks is the maximum amount of time someone can collect benefits.
But what do you do if you’ve suffered a traumatic brain injury? Or what if you’ve suffered a serious back injury that’s permanent but not so clearly defined in Georgia’s Workers’ Compensation law? What if a loved one was killed?
Every catastrophic injury is different, but almost all cases have a common theme: they could have been prevented. These injuries are often caused by human error or recklessness. For instance, maybe a distracted driver hit into your vehicle, causing severe whiplash and chronic back pain. Or perhaps an employer failed to provide a safe work environment which contributed to your head injury.
Thousands of American workers face these scenarios each year. If you or a loved one are in this predicament, it’s time to talk to an Atlanta catastrophic injury lawyer at the law firm of Gerber & Holder Workers’ Compensation Attorneys to learn your legal rights to workers’ compensation.
We can make sure you get the lifetime benefits you need in your case.
Contact us today for your free consultation.
Georgia catastrophic injury law & permanent disability benefits
As defined by state law, a “catastrophic injury” qualifies an injured worker for permanent disability benefits and is considered when a physician determines that a person is completely disabled, and not able to return to work in any capacity. According to Georgia law (statute 34-9-263), “the employer shall pay weekly income benefits equal to two-thirds of the employee’s average weekly wage for the number of weeks determined by the percentage of bodily loss or loss of use…” This number is then multiplied by the maximum weeks allowed, which varies depending on which body part(s) was affected and ranges anywhere from 20 (toe) to 300 (total body paralysis).
If a worker is killed as a result of a workplace accident, their surviving dependants (spouse and children) may receive workers’ comp benefits for loss of income, pain and suffering, loss of consortium and other damages. This compensation is typically two-thirds of the employee’s average weekly wage, up to the maximum allowed under Georgia law. A one-time $7,500 check for funeral expenses may also be paid.
Some types of catastrophic injuries that are especially common in the workplace and may qualify a person for permanent total disability (PTD) benefits include:
- Head trauma/brain injury
- Paralysis/paraplegia/quadriplegia/severe spinal cord injury
- Back or neck injury
- Construction accidents
- Car accidents
- Truck accidents
- Severe burns (second or third-degree)
- Total or partial blindness
- Amputation or a lost limb
- Neurological disorders
- Multiple bone fractures
A catastrophic injury or illness often results in severe damage to the central nervous system such as the brain or spinal cord, which can impact a wide range of bodily systems.
Common symptoms of a catastrophic injury include loss of movement, cognitive problems, respiration conditions, gastrointestinal issues and more. These chronic health problems often require costly long-term care and create other financial burdens for the victim and their family.
Short & long-term costs of a catastrophic injury:
- Emergency room visits
- Hospital stays
- Ongoing medical care
- At-home nursing care
- Physical and occupational therapy
- Adaptive equipment & technology (hospital bed at home, wheelchairs, a lift, etc.)
- Retrofitting a home to accommodate a wheelchair
- Lost wages
- Diminished earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
Types of injuries covered by Georgia workers’ compensation claims
Our record for workers’ compensation catastrophic work injury claims speaks for itself:
Recover from your catastrophic work injury or illness
The most common initial response to a non-fatal catastrophic injury is depression. In fact, according to studies, about 6% of patients with a spinal cord injury commit suicide. If you or a loved one recently suffered a catastrophic injury at work or elsewhere, first and foremost it’s important to know that you’re not alone. Second, know that you have legal rights to compensation.
People who’ve suffered a catastrophic injury, or the family of a worker who was killed in a workplace accident, may qualify for lifetime income benefits. However, when workers’ compensation isn’t enough, seriously injured workers or their families must turn to civil litigation to recover the full costs of a catastrophic work injury or illness.
The Atlanta catastrophic injury lawyers at Gerber & Holder Workers’ Compensation Attorneys have the experience to fight for your rights and secure those benefits. Our compassionate attorneys have over 75 years of combined experience advocating for seriously injured workers and are two of the most well-regarded workers’ compensation attorneys in Georgia. They can also help when your injury is permanent but isn’t so clear-cut, such as back injuries or other problems.