Another pitfall is that the medical reports from your treating doctors will not be specific enough to win the catastrophic case.
What type of evidence of work restrictions do I need?
Usually, the only way medical evidence will help you win your catastrophic case is if it allows a vocational expert to testify that you cannot perform your prior work or other work available in substantial numbers in the national economy for which you are otherwise qualified. It often comes down to exactly what type of work restrictions your doctors give you.
There are some work restrictions that may keep you from doing all kinds of jobs. For example, if you cannot lift very much, cannot sit very long, and cannot stand very long, then there is a good chance that you are not going to be able to do any work that is available in “substantial number in the national economy”. However, if your doctor does not clearly state that, then the vocational expert and the workers’ compensation administrative law judge will not have the evidence to determine that your work injury is catastrophic. It is very important for your treating doctors to be very specific about all the ways that your injury can affect your ability to work.
You also have to prove that you cannot do your prior work in order to qualify for a catastrophic designation. If your prior work was physically demanding, this may be easy. If your prior work was not physically demanding, then it is going to be more difficult. However, if you do not establish that you cannot do your prior work, you will lose your catastrophic case (unless you satisfy one of the specific types of catastrophic injuries reference in O.C.G.A. §34-9-200.1(g)(6) which were discussed in my earlier blog posts).
Getting help with a catastrophic designation
Catastrophic designation is a very complicated area of the Georgia workers’ compensation law. You do not have to have an attorney to handle any part of your workers’ compensation case, but this is an area of the law where I would almost always say that someone is making a mistake if they do not get an attorney. There are simply too many pitfalls in proving your catastrophic case for it to be a good decision to try to do it on your own. You can get a free consultation with one of our attorneys by calling the phone number on the right or completing the “Need Help” form on this page.