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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2017

    Default Husband Injured and Employer Won't File a WC Claim

    This is such a long story, and such a mess, but I'll try to keep it brief. To anyone who finishes reading this post, and offers advice, thank you in advance!!

    My husband is a truck driver (tanker). On December 5 while making a delivery (involves turning levers, dials, and using a fair amount of upper body strength) he thought he had pinched a nerve in his neck. (It happens once or twice a year, and a couple sessions on the inversion table, a few Advils, and he's good as new in a couple days). He stayed the night at a hotel on the 5th and the morning of the 6th as he was showering for work, he had a horrific pain shoot from his neck to his right hand. Long story short, it was at that moment that he herniated a disc in his neck. (We found this out later on his MRI, but I'm getting ahead of myself.)

    From December 7 through the 16 when he realized this was more than a pinched nerve, he went to the chiropractor 3 times, urgent care, and our family doctor, all to no avail. The family dr. ordered a MRI on the 16th, he had it on the 17th, and got his results on the 19th. Herniated disc between C6-C7. Over the course of the next two weeks, he went to an orthopedic specialist who read he MRI/radiology report and explained to us what was going on, referred him to pain management for an epidural, and to PT twice a week. He had his epidural on January 3 and it helped only marginally. He is still in a fair amount of pain, but he returned to work on January 7 I believe it was.

    The problem is with his employer. (I should note that his employer is my stepfather--a small business owner.) When all this first went down, he told my husband to do what it took to get out of pain, told him to take a couple weeks off, get his epidural, and "hopefully we won't have to file for workers comp." Employer had an employee file workers comp a while back that put him in the high risk pool, and his rates skyrocketed. He only recently got out of the high risk pool. He led my husband to believe that they would work something out as far as paid for time off, taking care of medical bills in-house, etc.

    So fast forward to today. My husband FINALLY sat down with his employer to talk about this. (He's been trying since Christmas, but it was "never a good time.") Then employer was out of town for the first two weeks in January on a Hawaiian vacation. My husband took in all EOBs from our insurance company, all receipt from the numerous doctors he's seen, etc. and explained his side of the story and asked if he could be reimbursed for medical expenses. He was told that this was NOT a work related injury, that filing a claim would put him back in the high risk pool and his rates would double, and that he needed to "man up and pay his own medical bills." At this point, we're in the hole about $2,500 for bills so far, and he will probably need another epidural since the first one didn't work very well. Follow-up appt. is January 31. So anyway, he basically told him no, but pointed out that he had oh so graciously paid him for his 2.5 weeks that he took off in December, and offered to pay for his physical therapy appointments. Later in the conversation, he informed my husband that all the time he took off in December was actually going to be considered his vacation time for this year--he just borrowed against it. So basically he WASN'T paid for his time off...he just borrowed against his vacation time.

    I'm so mad right now I don't know whether to s**t or go blind. What the holy **** is going on here, and what are our options??? I called the State Board for workers comp in Georgia today and was told that most WC claims are filed within 30 days of injury, but that my husband could still call the insurance company and try to file the claim himself. If they deny it, then it'll go to the WC Board in Atlanta for review?! This is so friggin ridiculous, I just can't even. If we DO take this route and file a claim, things will get ugly, I imagine, because the insurance company will contact my step dad, or the WC Board will, or SOMEONE will, and what could have been solved with a company check for $2,500 may turn into some type of investigation, or a claim that will end up costing employer a LOT more than $2,500. The big thing is, it will make my husband's job a living hell. I'm pretty sure they can't legally fire him for being injured, but they can make it so miserable for him that he will quit, right?

    I don't know if this is relevant, but I would like to add that this employer is doing *very* well for himself, and $2,500 to him is nothing (NOTHING). I think it's more a matter of principle, and him being a penny pincher. I would also like to add that my husband received no special treatment because he works for family. If anything, he is worked harder than anyone else there. They have several drivers, and my husband is usually the first one gone in the morning and the last one home in the evening, so it's not a matter of him already having been done favors or anything like that.

    I'm so so sorry if this is mis-categorized. To the mods...I saw that there was a support forum. If this needs to be moved, please feel free and accept my apologies!

    To anyone else who has gotten this far, what would you do?? Do you have a similar experience (not necessarily with the family aspect of it, but with filing a delayed claim), etc.?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2015

    Default Re: Husband Injured and Employer Won't File a WC Claim

    Here are a few things to keep in mind:

    In Georgia, you are supposed to notify your supervisor of any work injury within 30 days of its occurrence. This notice may be oral. You are NOT required to file a written notice of claim with the SBWC within 30 days. You have a full year to do that. So, if your stepfather was aware that the injury was being claimed as a work injury within the 30 days, you don't have a notice or late filing problem. Your husband must file the notice of claim with the Board within a year of the accident date though.

    You are right that it probably will get ugly if he pursues the claim. It usually does. If your stepfather tells his insurer that the injury was not work related and tells them of your husband's prior history of "pinched nerves" etc, you can pretty much bet they will deny it. In that case, all you can do is request a hearing before a judge.

    Your statement that the employer cannot fire him because of his injury is not correct. He could be fired. But, if the judge finds that his injury is compensable under WC and that he was fired because of the injury, he will probably be awarded TTD from at least the date of termination.

    In short, the "delayed filing" (as you put it) is probably not the problem here. The real issue will be proving this is a work related injury. If your husband decides to pursue the WC claim, get a lawyer. This isn't the type of claim he will want to handle on his own.

    Good luck to you both.
    Charles Hamilton

    This post is NOT LEGAL ADVICE, but is for education and information only. Legal advice comes after a complete review of the facts and relevant documents. There is no implied or actual attorney-client relationship arising from this education exchange. You should speak with an attorney licensed in your state, to whom you have provided all the facts before you take steps that may impact your legal rights.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    831 East Morehead St., Ste 355, Charlotte, NC 28202

    Default Re: Husband Injured and Employer Won't File a WC Claim

    I agree with CCHCP. I would tell your husband to "man up and protect his own rights by filing the claim himself." It is your husband's responsibility to "file" the claim with the Board, not the employer's. And your husband is going to need to get a lawyer, too. I am not sure the mechanism of injury you describe is going to be covered in Ga work comp, so ideally, he needs a legal consult with a good work comp lawyer before he does anything else about the claim. And your husband (and now you) have put out statements of how he got hurt that may actually work to defeat his claim. So tell him to quit screwing around, and to quit getting screwed by the employer, and hire a good lawyer, and pursue the claim properly. Believe me, your SF is not going to take care of him like he should. He has already proven that. A cervical HNP is a serious injury, especially for a driver, and is nothing to play around with.
    The North Carolina Court of Appeals has held that "In contested Workers' Compensation cases today, access to competent legal counsel is a virtual necessity." Church v. Baxter Travenol Labs, Inc., and American Motorists Insurance Company, 104 N.C. App. 411, 416 (1991).

    Bob Bollinger, Attorney and Board Certified Specialist in NC Workers' Compensation Law

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2017

    Default Re: Husband Injured and Employer Won't File a WC Claim

    I agree with Charles Hamilton. Notice of the accident and injury should be given to the employer immediately and within 30 days of the injury.

    The WC-1 Notice of Claim must be filed with the State Board of Workers' Compensation within 1 year of the date of injury. That can be filed by the injured worker or his attorney.

    Also, a panel of physicians should have been made available to the claimant when he reported his injury to the employer.

    The injured worker should keep the employer abreast of any work restrictions that were given to him due to this injury.
    Teresa Lazard

    Attorney Teresa Lazard is only licensed to practice in Georgia. The information contained here is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Information provided here will not be treated as confidential and does not create an attorney-client relationship. No use of this posted response creates an attorney-client relationship.

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