For most Atlanta workers who are injured on the job, life will return to either complete or relative normalcy after necessary treatment and recovery periods. For some workers, however, the injuries sustained will change their life and the lives of their loved ones forever. Injuries that have such significant impacts are usually considered catastrophic under Georgia law and workers affected by them are generally eligible for workers’ compensation benefits that go beyond the standard injuries. Cases that involve catastrophic injuries typically will require the aid of a workers’ compensation attorney who can ensure the injured worker and his or her family are taken care of after their losses.
What Constitutes a Catastrophic Injury?Regardless of what type of injury a worker has, Georgia workers’ compensation will pay two-thirds of their gross average weekly income, with a maximum of $500 per week, for the time period they are unable to work as well as the medical expenses necessary for the treatment of the injury. However, for non-catastrophic injuries, the number of weeks income benefits may be received is capped at 400 weeks. When injuries are catastrophic, this time period may be the remainder of the worker’s life. There are many types of injuries that could be considered catastrophic, but for the purposes of workers’ compensation, it is up to the authorized treating physician to classify whether a worker’s injuries are catastrophic or non-catastrophic. Some examples of injuries that would likely be considered catastrophic include:
- Amputations of arms or legs or other loss of limb;
- Traumatic spinal or brain injuries;
- Severe Paralysis;
- Severe burns;
- Blindness; and
- Various other severe injuries that would prevent a worker from returning to their prior employment or any other job by another employer.
Long-Term Consequences of Catastrophic InjuriesUnlike non-catastrophic work injuries, workers who sustain catastrophic injuries must deal with significantly more serious long-term consequences. Not only do they lose their ability to earn an income, they will also need to deal with a number of lifestyle changes and emotional trials. Catastrophic injuries may require the injured worker to cope with the following challenges:
- Modifications of home environment and the need for home care;
- Emotional suffering, including depression and mental anguish;
- Loss of enjoyment in life;
- Loss of future income; and
- Changes in personality of the injured worker.