An Important Concept in Georgia’s “Catastrophic” Injury Designation

Categories: Workers' Compensation

blackfin “Catastrophic” Injury Designation

Savanah, GA Catostrophic Injury Lawyer

As noted elsewhere on the Clarke Nash web site, it can be vitally important to have one’s work-related injury (or condition) designated as “catastrophic” by the Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation. Without such a designation, medical benefits and wage loss benefits are capped.

The Important “Catch-All” Designation for Catastrophic Injuries

While the Georgia Workers’ Compensation Act (“the Act”) provides a number of specific examples of catastrophic injuries, such as blindness, severe closed head injury, severe burns, and amputation of various limbs, the Act contains an important catch-all provision for “catastrophic” injury. Also included as catastrophic is any injury that prevents the worker from performing his or her prior work, and any work generally available in the national economy for which the worker is qualified. Disputes can arise, of course, about whether a worker is qualified for a particular job that he or she has never performed. In considering the issues, the Georgia Board considers whether the worker has “transferable skills.”

Examples of Transferable Skills

Some examples of transferable skills – the sorts of skills that can be used in all types of jobs – include some of the following:

  •  Communication skills: Ability to communicate and speak effectively in the presentation of ideas; the ability to persuade others; the ability to write effectively and participate and facilitate in group discussions.
  •  Planning skills: Ability to imagine alternatives, gather information, and perform projections; ability to set goals and quantify whether they have been met; ability to develop evaluation strategies.
  •  Human relations skills: Ability to sense and resolve conflict before it threatens the work environment; ability to delegate tasks and be conducive to delegation from supervisory employees.

Transferable Skills: An Individual Issue

The level of transferable skills that a worker possesses is obviously an individual matter. Unfortunately, for many Georgia workers, transferable skills are the types that are acquired through education, office and/or specialized services professions, and other highly skilled jobs. Many workers with minimal education, who are used to manual labor, and who may have communication problems, have no transferable skills.

The Georgia Board provides an example as to how it considers transferable skills: A 55-year-old worker who has always done heavy labor as a construction worker, with an 8th grade education and a back injury, and who is restricted to sedentary work. The worker has no transferable skills. Being skilled in the construction trade will do him no good if he is assigned to do office work. The office work would be within his physical limitations; it would not, however, be within the worker’s skill set. In a situation like this, where there were no transferable skills, the injury would usually be considered catastrophic, in spite of the fact that physically, the worker could technically perform some work.

Catastrophic Designation Requires Aggressive, Expert Legal Representation

The Georgia Board requires proof that the injured worker has insufficient transferable skills, in order to qualify under the “catch-all” provision of catastrophic injury. Generally, production and presentation of such proof requires the skilled assistance of a qualified attorney. At the Law Offices of B. Clarke Nash, P.C., you will have strong and aggressive counsel. Clarke provides personalized service. You don’t just deal with a case manager; you can talk to Clarke himself if you have questions about the procedures to be followed, or about the status of your case. Clarke once worked for the insurance companies; so, he knows how they operate and what motivates them. He has office availability throughout the state of Georgia. Contact Clarke, using either the online form or by calling (912) 200-5292. We can schedule a consultation.