Workplace Eye Injury
Georgia’s workers’ compensation system provides for medical care and temporary disability benefits to those injured on a job. Of all the injuries a person can suffer, eye injuries are some of the most upsetting. These injuries not only make it difficult to return to work, but they can dramatically reduce a person’s quality of life outside of work.
If you have suffered an eye injury on the job, you need compensation to cover medical benefits and lost wages. If necessary, you might bring a lawsuit, but you should always meet with an experienced Georgia workers’ compensation attorney first. Contact Slappey & Sadd, 404.255.6677.Eye Injuries Suffered on the Job
According to statistics, over 2,000 people injure their eyes every single day at work. About 10% of the eye injuries will require an employee to miss one or more days of work. These injuries run the gamut from relatively mild injuries to catastrophic blindness. Many of our clients have suffered eye injuries because of:
- Particles in the air
- Flying objects, such as pieces of glass or metal shavings
- Collision with objects
The best way to prevent eye injuries is to wear sufficient safety equipment, such as goggles, face shields, or welding helmets. People passing through work areas where there is a risk of eye injury should also wear protection.
Speak to your employer if you have concerns or if you want more information about what type of eyewear to use. Your employer should provide you with personal safety equipment as required by federal law. They also are legally required to provide adequate training so that you can use tools safely and minimize your chances of an eye injury.What to do After an Eye Injury
Early medical intervention is critical for your chances of making a recovery. Even if a full recovery isn’t possible, quick medical attention could prevent the problem from becoming worse. For this reason, you should go immediately to the hospital.
You should also promptly notify your employer that you are injured. Notification is necessary so that you can receive workers’ compensation benefits, which should cover all reasonable and necessary medical care. If you don’t notify your boss, you could forfeit these benefits.
You should also document as best you can what caused the injury. The cause could prove important if you are thinking of suing a third party for compensation. For example, if a power tool exploded in your face, then you might be able to sue the manufacturer if the product was defective. Similarly, you could sue the manufacturer of a toxic chemical if it ended up blinding you. To document the accident, remember the following:
- Write down your memories of what happened. Where were you injured? What were you doing?
- Identify any witnesses to the accident. They could have important testimony.
- Preserve any product that you think injured you. Don’t throw away chemicals or tools. Instead, put them in a safe place so your Georgia workers’ compensation attorney can review them later.
You might hear a workers’ compensation lawyer talk about whether an injury qualifies for a “catastrophic designation.” This term is important because of how Georgia has written its workers’ compensation laws.
In particular, an injured worker can only receive medical treatment or wage loss benefits for a maximum of 400 weeks. After this period—roughly eight years—you will be cut off from benefits unless your injury qualifies as catastrophic.
Helpfully, Georgia’s statute identifies six injuries that qualify for this designation, and “total or industrial” blindness is one of them. (O.C.G.A. 34-9-200.1(g)(5)). If you have severely limited vision, then you could qualify.
Also, other injuries will qualify for a critical designation under section 34-9-200.1(g)(6) if the nature and severity of the injury would make work impossible. This is a vaguer standard—and harder to prove. If a doctor releases you to work after 130 works, then there is a presumption that your injuries are not catastrophic. This presumption is rebuttable, meaning you can present information that you cannot do work because of your injury, but you really need a lawyer’s help.
Qualifying for a catastrophic designation is vital because eye injuries often require lifelong medical treatment. Some people cannot return to work at all in the future, and workers’ compensation benefits will be all they have to support themselves and their families.Top Reasons Workers’ Compensation Claims are Denied
You might have suffered an eye injury only to have your employer’s insurer deny your claim. Workers’ compensation benefits are no-fault benefits, meaning it does not matter even if you are to blame for the injury. However, there are still reasons why an insurer might deny your claim:
- They claim you were not on the job when you injured your eye
- They claim your eye injury is actually a pre-existing condition
- They claim your eye injury is not serious enough
One reason you should promptly report injuries is so your employer can document what happened and where. This evidence can prove critical when it comes time to request benefits. If you feel that you have been wrongly denied benefits, speak to an attorney. An insurance denial is not the final say on the matter. You do have appeal rights, but you must act quickly to protect them.
Often, fighting a denial will require that you gather additional medical records that can establish the seriousness of your injury. An attorney can help you present a strong case.Talk to a Seasoned Workers’ Compensation Attorney in Georgia
Workplace injuries are scary. Many of our clients contact us in a panic, unsure about how they will continue to support their families after suffering partial or total blindness.
We are here to help. At Slappey & Sadd, our Georgia workers’ compensation attorneys have guided numerous workers down the path of receiving critical benefits, and we can use our experience on your behalf as well.
Reach out to us today. Call 404.255.6677 or fill out this contact sheet. We serve the entire state of Georgia, including Newton County.