The Law Offices of David Scott Thompson

Specializing in Business Litigation, Employment Law, Personal Injury, and Workers' Compensation

Most of my clients have never had a workers' compensation claim before, and frankly, the system is extremely complicated.  On the other hand, the employers, and especially those in the human resources department are extremely knowledgeable about this process.  

Upon getting injured, report your injury to your supervisor as quick as possible.  You must do so within 30 days, with few exceptions.  You should then have your employer fill out a report of injury, which you are entitled to a copy of.  If you need medical assistance, request the Panel of Physicians, which typically has six or more doctors from which you are entitled to choose from.  If you have questions about whom to see, please call me.  If your employer does not have a Panel, you are entitled to see anyone whom you choose.  PLEASE NOTE HOWEVER: If your injury is an emergency, please proceed immediately to an Emergency Room, which is allowed under Workers’ Compensation rule and regulations.

After your initial treatment, keep in contact with your supervisor or the designated workers' compensation representative about your treatment.  If your injury is severe enough, you may be placed under work restrictions, which the employer must comply with if they expect you to return to work.  If they cannot accommodate those restrictions, or if they have to reduce your hours and/or pay due to the restrictions, are you entitled to temporary partial disability (TPD) benefits equal to 2/3 the difference between your pre-and post-injury weekly wage, up to $334/week.  If your doctor tells you that you cannot work at all, then you are entitled to temporary total disability benefits (TTD), which equates to 2/3 of your pre-injury wage, up to a maximum of $500/week.  

Just because your employer or the insurance adjuster says you are not entitled to benefits, this is not necessarily the case.  This is why you need an experienced attorney to handle your claim.  This is especially true if you cannot work due to your injury, yet your employer says you should.  This could also be true if you were fired shortly after your accident, even if the employer says that your termination has nothing to do with that accident. 

If the insurance company will not provide you with income and medical benefits, and often they do not, it may then be necessary to file a WC-14 Request for Hearing.  That is a proceeding where you are allowed to tell your story to an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) assigned to your claim.  Your supervisor or someone else from your employer may also appear to testify.  Then, a detailed Post-Hearing Brief to the ALJ will be due, arguing why your benefits are due. 

There are many other twists and turns in the complicated Workers' Compensation rule, but a few that the average first-time injured worker may not know about are especially important.  First, if you become unhappy with your doctor, you are entitled to make a change to a different Panel physician one time.  Second, if have received any income benefits, you are entitled to a second opinion Independent Medical Examination within 120 days of your last benefits being paid, to be paid for by the employer.  Finally, for any authorized medical treatment, you are either entitled to reimbursement for your mileage, or you are entitled to round-trip transportation from your home.  Again however, there are numerous obscure rules, so it is important to consult with an attorney.  

For more questions, please see my blog: Georgia Workers' Compensation Blog

Few things are as frustrating as going about your day or night, and then, out of the blue, you are injured through no fault of your own.  This includes auto accidents, dog bites, and accidents where innocent pedestrians or bicyclists are hit by a vehicle.  Typically, you will make contact with the opposing party's insurance company who will act like they care deeply about you and your injuries, and assure you that you will be receiving all necessary treatment.  You begin treatment, and are lulled into a false sense of security.  Then, when it comes time to settle and close your claim, they often meet with you and take a used-car-salesman approach with you, pressuring to accept just a few thousand dollars.  Except in the most minor of injuries, this comes nowhere close to compensating you for your pain, suffering, potential lost wages, and potential future medical needs.  Instead, you need an attorney with experience in analyzing medical records to determine the settlement that is appropriate for your situation.  You also need an attorney with experience negotiating with the insurance companies, and knowing what you can expect.  Finally, you need someone who knows how to properly issue a demand.  Pursuant to a new law, effective for auto accidents occurring after July 1, 2013, OCGA 9-11-67.1, there is a specific procedure for issuing the demand, including items of information that must be included, time limitation, and the proper manner of service.   There are similar considerations that may not be known to the general public in settling non-auto claims as well pursuant to well-established case law.

Few things are as personal as your employment, and few things are as scary when that is threatened in some way.  Employers do have a lot of leeway in making those decisions, as Georgia is a 'right to work' state, and for the most part you can be hired and fired for any reason at all.  However, this is not a blanket statement.  Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination against employees, former employees and applicants for employment on the basis of their race, colorsex,national origin, and religion. In addition, Congress has expanded the scope of the anti-discrimination laws in order to prohibit other forms of discrimination, such as the Americans with Disabilities Actprohibiting disability discrimination, and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act protecting individuals over 40 years old.  And discrimination is not simply hiring and firing: it also includes refusal to hire, reducing pay, unfairly poor performance reviews, and reduction in hours based upon the above reasons.  

In addition, I handle sexual and other types of harassment claims.  This harassment can be by a supervisor, or it can be by a co-worker.  Either way, if you feel you have been treated inappropriately, we can discuss your rights and options.  First and foremost though, make sure you report it to a supervisor (or your supervisor's supervisor).  If the alleged harassment was by a co-worker, make sure you follow your company's reporting policy to the letter, as this will make your claim infinitely easier down the road.  Many of these claims go unreported as the victim is worried about an adverse effect at work.  However, if you get fired, docked pay, or unfairly reprimanded because you reported a harassment claim, you may  also have a claim for retaliation.  I can guide you through this process.

One of the most important pieces of information to know is that unlike a regular lawsuit where you have two years or more to file your suit, with an employment suit, it has to be filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission within 180 days of the occurrence.  Failure to do so will bar your suit forever.  While this process can be done on your own,  the EEOC does decide whether you can proceed with a lawsuit, and it frames your lawsuit for the employer to allow them to prepare their defenses, and therefore it is wise to at least discuss your claim with an attorney.  

Finally, I also handle employment issues that do not involve filing a lawsuit.  In many situations, I get calls from those about to be hired, or alternatively that were recently laid off, requesting that I review documents the employer is requesting they sign.  This includes employment contracts, severance packages, and non-compete agreements.  I can advise you on the pros and cons of signing, and whether it is in your best interest to do so given your goals, aspirations and life situation  

Not only did I receive my undergraduate business degree from the world-renowned McIntire School of Commerce at the University of Virginia, I have spent much of my career advising small business owners about when they have been sued, or alternatively when they are in disputes with other businesses or individuals.  This includes manufacturing facilities, media and production companies, healthcare facilities, and homeowners' associations.  I have been tasked with resolving contract disputes, resolving issues regarding rezoning disputes, advising clients about best business practices, and many other issues.  I think of your issue not just as a lawyer but as a fellow business owner, and how the likely outcome of the dispute will affect you, your business, and potentially your customers.  Based upon the problem, I can work for you hourly, or on a contingent basis.  
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