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Back Surgery – Georgia Workers’ Compensation4 minute read

Doctors often propose back surgery to treat serious workers’ compensation back injuries.  These types of back injuries often result in herniated discs that are diagnosed via an MRI or some other form of diagnostic testing.

When back surgery is recommended, people often have questions.  They wonder whether they should have surgery.

Many people believe that surgery will make them completely better.  Other people believe that surgery will likely make them worse or could result in paralysis.  This article will discuss some of the common issues that you need to know about when back surgery is recommended after a workers’ compensation injury.

It is very important to understand that I am not a doctor.  I do not intend anything in this article to be medical advice.  You should consult with your doctor to get advice about your medical condition and medical treatment.

This article only attempts to make you aware of the issues that often come up in Georgia’s workers’ compensation law in back surgery cases.

Limits on medical and indemnity benefits in Georgia workers’ compensation cases

You now have a limited period of time to receive medical treatment and wage loss benefits in most Georgia workers’ compensation claims.  Unless you receive a catastrophic designation, you probably only have 400 weeks (about 7.5 years) to make the insurance company pay for the medical treatment for your injury.

Back surgery will probably take you out of work for some time.  The insurance company is also only responsible for paying for wage loss benefits for a limited time after your injury.  The time period for wage loss benefits is also 400 weeks from your date of injury.A doctor checks an x-ray for a spinal cord injury

The time limits on medical treatment and wage loss benefits make it important to get the treatment you need quickly.  You still have to decide you will have the back surgery your doctor has recommended.  Even if you do decide to have surgery, the workers’ compensation insurance company will often deny the surgery or request a second opinion before approving it.  So, delaying the surgery could cause you to miss out on medical treatment you need later because it is after the 400 week deadline.

Permanent partial disability benefits after back surgery

The insurance company should pay permanent partial disability (PPD) benefits when your workers’ compensation injury causes some permanent impairment.  If you have back surgery, you should end up with a permanent partial disability rating.  The amount of the rating usually depends on the type of back surgery you have.

Georgia law requires doctors to use the 5th Edition of the American Medical Association Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment to assign PPD ratings.  Many back injuries and surgeries are rated using the diagnosis-related estimate (DRE) method.  Under this method, injuries fall into five categories.  Each category has a range of percentage ratings.

The type of back surgery often determines the category number for the DRE method.  A discectomy or laminectomy will often result in a Category 3 DRE rating.  A surgical fusion will usually result in a Category 4 or 5 DRE rating.  The higher number categories result in a higher PPD rating.

Catastrophic designation for back injuries

Unfortunately, back surgery does not always make people better.  Some people continue to have significant pain after surgery.  This pain can make it very difficult to return to work.

You may decide not to have back surgery.  If you make this decision, you may have to live with very serious pain, even if you get pain management treatment.  This pain can also make it hard to get back to work.

You may qualify for a catastrophic designation if your injury prevents you from going back to most types of jobs.  One of the benefits of qualifying for a catastrophic designation is that you avoid the 400 weeks cutoff for both your wage loss and medical benefits.

Settlement with or without back surgery

Many people have questions about what they should accept in settlementMany people have questions about settlement.  Should they settle their case? If so, when should they settle?

Settlement is complicated.  The answers to these questions and many others really depend on your particular situation. Since settlement is a choice, you should make the best choice for you.

If you have had back surgery or your doctor has recommended it, you need to put a lot of thought into your decision about settlement.  There is one thing that is certain about settlement – it is almost always final.  You cannot go back and change your mind later.  So, make an informed decision if you are considering settlement.

Other issues associated with back surgery

This article covers a few of the issues you may face if your doctor recommends back surgery.  You may face other issues in your case as well.

Talking to an attorney is usually the best way to answer specific questions that you have about workers’ compensation. I provide free consultations in workers’ compensation cases so you can get answers to your questions.

What if I have other questions about workers compensation?

Georgia’s workers compensation system can be very confusing.  You have to worry about getting the treatment you need and paying your bills while also worrying about not missing any deadlines that could cause you to lose your right to receive workers compensation benefits.

If you have questions, I would recommend that you try to get answers.  To find out more about how to schedule a time to talk to me about your workers compensation questions, just read this short article.

Jason Perkins is an attorney who specializes in representing injured workers.  He regularly publishes videos and write blog articles about Georgia’s workers compensation system and issues that are important to injured workers and their families.

To be notified of Jason’s new workers compensation videos, subscribe to his Georgia Workers Compensation Video Series channel on YouTube by clicking the subscribe button below.

Brittney-lee orourkeBrittney-lee orourke
05:23 18 Feb 22
Amazing! Jason and his team were very helpful and had the best communication by far. Walked me though every step with great detail and had answers for any question I had. They handled my case better then I could imagine, it was a weird case and they stayed on top of it and kept me updated every step of the way! Highly recommend this Team! Thanks so much to Jason and his Awesome team!-Brittney
China JonesChina Jones
18:58 08 Feb 22
I absolutely love this group of attorneys, when I was at my lowest they did everything they could to help me get justice for my injury. I believe if I were to have never picked my phone up and called the amazing group that helped me I definitely would not have received my idea of rights. If you have an issue and are just not sure please understand that they will help you, stay in contact, answer any question you have, and for sure get you the justice you deserve I thank them from the bottom of my heart and I will definitely refer them to anyone who has been hurt because they most definitely care about their work and clients.
Luv LocsLuv Locs
16:08 15 Jan 22
The entire law office was attentive and responsive to all of my concerns dealing with my workers compensation case.
moombimoombi
21:14 02 Jan 22
If you must get a lawyer involved, you’d do well to work with Jason Perkins and his team at Perkins Studdard Law.They were thorough in gathering information and in sharing all the steps in the workers comp process specific to my case. Jason and the team were responsive to my bevy of questions and concerns.I appreciated the informative videos and consultations provided by Jason over video meetings and multiple phone calls.I hope I’m never injured on the job again. However, if I am and if my employer responds as my previous employer did, I’ll contact Perkins Studdard Law immediately to handle the case.
Dana BessDana Bess
23:57 10 Dec 21
Everyone at Perkins Studdard was kind and professional. They were always extremely responsive and answered all questions that I had and followed up to make sure I had an understanding of what was going on along with emailing videos to explain every step of my case so I would know what to expect and be prepared. Jason is a very genuine person and I trusted him with my case. He answered so many questions for me even before I retained him as my WC lawyer. I highly recommend him and his associates at Perkins Studdard.
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