Injured Georgia Workers Aren’t Getting the Medical Care They Deserve
Workers’ compensation is something just about every employee is entitled to. Even part-time and seasonal workers are eligible for benefits. Basically, any time an employer is withholding taxes from someone’s pay, it is treating that person as an employee. Under Georgia law, an employee’s accidental injury is compensable for workers’ compensation if it arises out of and in the course of employment. However, some workers are finding that getting the medical care they deserve is not as easy as it is supposed to be. According to a recent study by the Workers Compensation Research Institute (WCRI), nearly one in five Georgians who lost more than seven days of work due to an at-work injury reported encountering huge obstacles getting the medical services they wanted or that their doctors recommended. More than half of these people reported that the reason was because the “insurer or employer did not want the care provided.” Commissioned by the state, the WCRI also determined that Georgia has one of the lowest return-to-work rates in the nation. A WSB-TV Channel 2 Action News investigation found that thousands of Georgia residents have problems accessing medical care after a work injury. One worker reported that emergency care following a horrible crash was covered without issue, but follow-up care, prescriptions, and supplies were repeatedly denied or delayed to such an extent that he accepted a settlement just to end the years-long hassle. This worker’s injuries were so critical that he almost died twice, has internal trauma that requires permanent care, and has nerve damage that may never be resolved. Someone suffering from injuries this severe should not be so frustrated by the system that they give up their rights. A commonly experienced difficulty is the delay or rejection of authorization for medical treatment, often without any reason given. Even though prior approval for specific supplies or treatment is not required by state law, many doctors within the workers’ compensation system won’t get involved without some kind of up-front payment guarantee. Many injured workers simply don’t have the necessary funds. Although the Board already has the power to impose sanctions against those employers and insurance companies which deliberately delay care, there is no tracking system in place to identify habitual offenders. New rules for the Georgia Workers Compensation Board are intended to get judges involved sooner who can resolve delays faster, but the changes aren’t due to take effect until next year. Only about 13 percent of all workers’ comp claims even end up before the Board (but it’s a start at more than 18,000 cases per year). However, even if a case is brought there, the process is not quick. Winning approval has been known to take a year or more, by which time, an injured person’s health risks are likely to be more dire. Injured workers deserve access to immediate emergency care along with timely follow-up care, medications, physical therapy, medical supplies, lifetime home health care, and more. If you have been hurt on the job, believe your workers’ compensation benefits have been wrongly delayed or denied, or have any questions about this topic, find out more by discussing it with one of the attorneys at The Mann Law Firm. We have over 50 years of experience helping people, and we can help you. Based in Macon, we proudly serve communities throughout Georgia. Contact us by calling (478) 742-3381 or by filling out our online form.