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Workers Compensation Benefits for Brain Injuries6 minute read

Head injuries causes serious and potentially long term consequences.  We have seen growing awareness of that with the increased concerns about the effects of repeated head trauma in football and soccer.

If you suffer a head injury at work, you need to know how that can affect you and what benefits the workers compensation insurance company should pay.  This article will focus on benefits paid in Georgia workers compensation claims for head injuries.

Before we go any further, it is important to state that I am not a doctor or any sort of medical professional.  I am a workers compensation attorney.  I do not intend for the information in this article to be medical advice but instead merely to serve as legal information about some of the common issues that people who suffer head injuries on the job face in Georgia.

Head and brain wound with bandageDoes Georgia workers compensation law cover head and brain injuries?

Yes.  Georgia’s workers compensation law covers all different types of head and brain injuries.  But, it is important to understand that what you have to prove to get benefits for head injuries differs depending on what type of head injury you suffer.

Under Georgia’s law, there are essentially three types of head or brain injuries:

Physical head injuries

These types of head injuries are caused by physical force such as:

  • Falling and striking your head
  • Being struck by an object in the head
  • Striking your head in a car wreck

A physical head injury could result in physical damage to your head or skull.  You could also suffer damage to your brain.

What you have to prove for a physical head injury is basically the same as what you have to prove for any other type of workers compensation injury.  You need to show that the injury arose out of and in the course of your employment.  Essentially, this means that you show that it is a work-related injury.

Doctor holding xray of human head and brain

Strokes

Georgia’s workers compensation law has special rules for strokes.  Strokes are treated the same as heart attacks.

The special rules for strokes primarily focus on the type of evidence you must have to support your injury.  The rules require that you use at least some medical evidence.  This article discusses the rules for strokes in more detail.

Psychological injuries

PTSD, depression, and anxiety are other types of head or brain injuries.  Georgia’s law classifies these as “mental” injuries.

Georgia’s workers compensation rules for mental injuries are even tougher than strokes.  Georgia’s law only covers mental injuries when they develop as a result of a physical injury.  This means that many people who develop PTSD, depression, or some other psychological condition as a result of performing their job do not receive Georgia workers compensation benefits.

How are head injuries treated differently than other types of injuries?

As I mentioned above, head injuries receive somewhat different treatment with what you have to prove to get your injury accepted.  But, the benefits you can receive for your head injury are basically the same as other injuries.

The basic Georgia works compensation benefits are:

All of these benefits have certain rules.  For medical treatment, the insurance company should have to pay for the medical treatment you need.  But, you usually have to treat with certain doctors off of a list posted by your employer called the panel of physicians.  If your employer does not have a panel of physicians, you may be able to pick any doctor you want for treatment.

Will I be able to pick a brain injury specialist off of the panel of physicians?

If your employer has a posted panel of physicians, you probably have to pick a doctor off that list for treatment.  Unfortunately, the panel of physicians only has to have six doctors on it.  Also, the only medical specialty required to be on the panel is orthopedics.

This means that the panel of physicians may not have a brain injury specialist on it like a neurologist, neuropsychologist, or neurosurgeon.  Fortunately, the doctor you pick off of the panel of physicians can refer you to a specialist for specialized treatment.

Man with headache sitting on sofa with a laptopAre there limits on how long I can receive workers compensation benefits for my head injury?

Georgia law limits how long you can receive workers compensation benefits in most cases.  In most cases, your eligibility for temporary total disability and medical benefits ends 400 weeks after your date of injury.  That is about 7.5 years after your injury.

It is important to understand that you do not necessarily receive these benefits this long.  The limit means that you cannot get the benefits after 400 weeks even if you still need them.  Also, you need to know about deadlines that could make you lose your eligibility even earlier that that.

Do these 400 week limits apply in all cases?

No.  There are exceptions to these limits.  In all cases where your injury occurred before July 1, 2013, the 400 week limit on medical does not apply.  It only applies to injuries after July 1, 2013.

Also, some workers compensation cases qualify for a “catastrophic designation”.  Six different types of injuries can qualify for a catastrophic designation.  The 400 week limits on medical and temporary total disability benefits do not apply in catastrophic cases (but the statute of limitation deadlines still do).

Two of these types of injuries could qualify you for a catastrophic designation if you have a severe head or brain injury.  The first is known as (g)(3) which applies to severe brain or closed head injuries which are evidenced by

  • Severe sensory or motor disturbances
  • Severe communication disturbances
  • Severe complex integrated disturbances of cerebral function
  • Severe disturbances of consciousness
  • Severe episodic neurological disorders

Worried couple looking at bills(G)(3) also allows other types of brain and closed head injuries to qualify when the conditions are at least as severe as the five mentioned above.

Even if you cannot qualify for a catastrophic designation under (g)(3), you could still qualify under a part of the catastrophic law known as (g)(6).  To qualify under (g)(6), you need to show that your injury keeps you from performing:

  • Your prior work; and
  • Work available in substantial numbers in the national economy for which you are otherwise qualified

Basically, this means you need to show that your injury keeps you from working at most any job as that job is regularly performed.

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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