DeKalb County Department of Sanitation and Workers’ Compensation; What You Need to Know
DeKalb County is large; it is approximately 268 square miles and is the most densely populated county in Georgia. With so many people, households, and businesses, DeKalb County produces a lot of garbage. It is the job of workers at the DeKalb County Department of Sanitation to collect that garbage, and it is no easy task.
You may assume that DeKalb County sanitation workers are only required to pick up small garbage bags, but that is not correct. The DeKalb County Sanitation department collects bulky items as part of their routine collection. This means that DeKalb County residents do not need to pay a fee or submit a special request for these bulky items to be picked up. Residents merely have to place these items on the curb and the DeKalb sanitation workers have to pick up these bulky items as part of their routine job duties. Bulky items included in this category are: furniture; hand tools; lawnmowers; playground equipment; mattresses & box springs; and household appliances.
DeKalb County sanitation workers have to collect the garbage, even in bad weather. It is dangerous enough collecting garbage on a sunny day, but when it is windy or rainy, this task becomes even more dangerous.
If a DeKalb County sanitation worker suffers an injury on the job, he or she can request to be sent to a workers’ compensation doctor. The injured worker must first report the injury to his or her supervisor. The supervisor should then show the injured worker the DeKalb County Sanitation Department’s workers’ compensation panel. The panel is simply a list of doctors with whom a worker is authorized to treat. Once the injured worker selects a doctor from the panel, he or she can schedule an appointment, which will be paid for by DeKalb County. Once treatment begins, everything that the authorized doctor orders is also paid for by DeKalb County. This includes any medications that are prescribed, any diagnostic tests that are performed (like X-Rays, CT-Scans, and MRIs) and any other treatment that is ordered, including physical therapy, injections, and surgeries. The authorized treating physician can also make referrals to other doctors. For instance, if an injured worker begins treating with an orthopedic specialist for a knee injury, that doctor can make referral to a neurologist, a psychiatrist, or any other type of specialist that may be appropriate as long as the reason for the referral is related to the work-related injury.
DeKalb County and its sanitation department are self-insured for workers’ compensation. That means that the claims are not paid for by an outside insurance company. The claims are managed by the DeKalb County Risk Management Department.
DeKalb County Risk Management’s panel of physicians has in the past included a number of Urgent Care Clinics, including several locations of Caduceus Occupational Medicine (555 Peachtree St. NE in Atlanta, 1580 Boggs Rd. in Duluth, 535 N. Central Ave. in Hapeville, 3975-A Lawrenceville Highway in Tucker, and 1305 Hembree Rd. in Roswell). It has also included Concentra Medical Centers on 1045 Sycamore Drive in Decatur. Often an injured DeKalb County sanitation worker is sent to one of these locations first. These facilities are often open later than other medical practices and may not require appointments. Injured workers may also be sent to one of these locations to undergo a drug test following an accident.
However, even if an injured worker begins treatment at an Urgent Care Center like Caduceus Occupational or Concentra, that does not mean it is the only type of facility that he or she can treat with during the duration of the workers’ compensation claim. DeKalb County Risk Management’s panel of physicians will also contain one or more orthopedic specialists. In the past, the orthopedic clinics listed on DeKalb’s panel has included Peachtree Orthopedics, Resurgens Orthopedics, and the Atlanta Neurological & Spine Institute.
Medical treatment in a workers’ compensation claim often follows a progression. Doctors usually start with the least invasive and least expensive treatment. This might come in the form of medication or physical therapy. If an injury is not deemed serious, an injured worker might only treat at an urgent care center like Caduceus or Concentra. However, if symptoms persist beyond a few visits with an urgent care center, the doctor might order additional diagnostic tests, like an MRI. These tests often reveal more serious injuries like torn ligaments or herniated discs. At this point an injured worker will almost certainly be referred to an orthopedic specialist.
The referral to an Orthopedic Specialist is often a crucial turning point in a Georgia workers’ compensation claim. It is usually a good idea for an injured worker to reach out for guidance from an experienced attorney once they have been referred to an orthopedic. This is because not all orthopedic doctors will treat an injured worker the same. Many orthopedic doctors, especially orthopedic doctors who have been listed on an employer’s panel of physicians, are likely to be dismissive of a worker’s injuries. They are more likely to send you back to work, to say that your injury is not related to your job injury, or to say that you are not injured at all.
An experienced workers’ compensation attorney can help guide you through the tricky prospect of picking the best doctor available to treat you. Workers’ compensation lawyers see the same doctors over and over again, and know which ones are helpful to workers and which ones are more concerned with the interests of the employer and the insurance company.
If a doctor says that you can work full duty, without any restrictions, you will not have any basis to claim workers’ compensation income benefits. However, if a doctor says that you are disabled from work completely, the workers’ compensation insurer will have no choice but to commence workers’ compensation income benefits. That is why picking the right doctor is so important, especially if you work for an employer like the DeKalb County Sanitation Department, which has a panel of physicians.
The experienced Decatur workers’ compensation lawyers at the O’Connell Law Firm offer a free and confidential consultation to learn about your DeKalb county workers’ compensation case and to see if they can help fight for you to get benefits due. Contact the experienced Decatur workers’ compensation lawyers at the O’Connell Law Firm today and speak to a lawyer about your case for free.