Georgia has a large industrial workforce — but many of those who end up injured on the job are falling between the cracks when it comes to getting the care and benefits they’re due from workers’ compensation.
According to the 2015 figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the most recent available, more than 78,000 Georgians are injured or sickened every year at work. However, many say that the convoluted workers’ compensation doesn’t work the way that it should.
In fact, some suspect that it is purposefully designed to make people who are already struggling with injuries and pain so disheartened or aggravated that they simply give up.
A news team’s investigation found thousands of Georgians who may all be facing the same problem. One worker who was interviewed said that, initially, he had no problem getting care for his severe injuries. As time wore on, he started experiencing a story that’s familiar to many others in his predicament: denials, delays, problems getting his prescriptions and trouble getting his followup appointments authorized. He felt pressured to settle just to be done with the hassle and able to move on.
If a study done by the Workers’ Compensation Research Institute (WCRI) is correct, nearly 1 out of every 5 injured workers in Georgia can expect the same level of difficulty. In more than half of the reported incidents, the injured employee’s physician will order a specific treatment and the employer will move to block it.
Doctors aren’t required to get the employer’s approval before ordering specific medical treatments but they risk not being paid if they don’t. This effectively puts the cost-conscious employer in the driver’s seat of an injured worker’s medical care.
The State’s Workers’ Compensation Board has issued new rules, effective 2018, that can authorize judges to handle delays expediently and impose sanctions on employers or insurers who are denying injured workers care. However, right now, denials of care can take so long to appeal that an injured employee’s condition can end up drastically worse — requiring more extensive care and a new round of approvals.
Not surprisingly, Georgians are among the least likely in the nation to return to work after being injured on the job.
If you’re having trouble getting the care that you need after a workplace injury, talk to an attorney today.
Source: www.wsbtv.com, “Thousands of Georgians hurt at work report ‘big problems’ getting care,” Aaron Diamant, May 04, 2017