Many people work in the poultry and meat processing industries. In fact, there are almost 600,000 people employed in the meat and poultry processing industry in the United States.
Although the industry provides a lot of jobs, it can also be extremely dangerous for those working it it. Chicken processors are working with cutting tools and other equipment which can cause serious injuries or death. In 2016, over 4 percent of full time poultry workers suffered a work-related injury.
The best thing is to avoid a work-related injury. But, if you suffer an injury and find yourself in the workers compensation system, you need to make sure you understand how to get the medical treatment and weekly benefits you need to recover from your injury and move on with your life.
What types of injuries occur in chicken plants?
Many different types of injuries occur in chicken plants. These injuries can affect every part of your body. Some of the common types of injuries include the following:
- Injuries to the back, neck, and shoulders from heavy lifting
- Carpal tunnel syndrome and other repetitive use injuries from performing repetitive activity with the arms and hands
- Crush injuries to the arms and legs from equipment in the chicken plant
- Amputations of the hands and feet from cutting tools and other equipment used to process the chicken
- Injuries from slipping and falling on slick floors or items dropped on the floor
These are not the only types of injuries that occur. There are other dangers in a chicken plant as well. With limited exceptions, workers compensation in Georgia generally covers any work-related injury that you suffer while working in a chicken plant.
What benefits should the workers compensation insurance company pay after a chicken plant injury?
Georgia workers compensation law provides three basic types of benefits. Those benefits are:
- Weekly wage loss benefits (temporary total disability and temporary partial disability)
- Payment for the medical treatment and testing you need for your injury with certain authorized doctors
- Permanent partial disability benefits if you have a permanent impairment as a result of your injury
Each of these benefits is very important. If you suffer an injury to your back from lifting heavy boxes, you will probably not be able to return to your regular job at the chicken plant doing that heavy lifting. If your injury keeps you from working, Georgia workers compensation pays you a weekly benefit for that wage loss.
All injuries require some sort of medical treatment. Because of this, it is very important that workers compensation covers the medical treatment and testing you need for your injury. This treatment allows you to recover from your injury.
Hopefully, medical treatment will allow you to recover one hundred percent. But, some serious injuries result in you having some permanent impairment. Permanent partial disability benefits provide some compensation for you if you have a permanent impairment as a result of your injury.
Can I choose my own doctor to provide treatment for my injury?
Sometimes you can choose your own doctor to treat you injury. Usually though, you have to choose a doctor off of a list of doctors chosen by your employer known as a panel of physicians.
The two most common situations where you can choose your own doctor are:
- When your employer or their workers compensation insurance company denies your whole claim and refuses to provide medical treatment
- When your employer does not follow the rules and properly post a panel of physicians
It is very important to understand the rules about what doctor you can see. If you see doctors that you are not authorized to see, you may end up having to pay the bill even if the treatment you receive was for your injury.
What happens if my workers compensation injury prevents me from returning to work?
If your injury keeps you from returning to work, you should receive the workers compensation wage loss benefits mentioned above. One of the main benefits of workers compensation is that it pays you a benefit if you are out of work as a result of your injury.
But, you need to understand that this benefit does not last forever. There are limits on how long you can receive it. Also, the amount of the benefit often gets reduced when a doctor says you can go back to some sort of light duty work.
Work in a chicken plant is very physically demanding labor. Serious injuries often make it very difficult to return to that type of work. It is very important to understand what benefits you should receive and if there is anything you can do to prevent your benefits from getting reduced or stopped.
Will the insurance company make sure I receive all the benefits I should?
I wish I could say that an insurance company will make sure and pay you all the benefits you receive. Unfortunately, it is not really in their interest to do that.
Your case costs the insurance company money. They are a business that wants to make money. The more money that they spend on your case and other workers compensation cases, the less money they make.
So, insurance companies are not going to make sure you receive all the benefits you should. Instead, it is in there interests to get the workers compensation doctor to say you have recovered from your injury and do not need any more medical treatment. You may need to make sure you have someone on your side looking out for your interests.