Emory University And Workers’ Compensation Benefits
According to the Atlanta Business Chronicle, Emory University is the largest employer in Metro Atlanta. As of December 31, 2020, Emory had 32,594 full-time employees in the metro area. Those employees perform a wide range of jobs, as Emory is both a university and a network of healthcare providers. Emory University employs professors and teaching professionals and Emory Hospitals employ doctors and nurses, but the Emory system also employs countless other support staff like administrators, cooks and kitchen staff, grounds workers, and custodians.
Emory is currently self-insured for workers’ compensation. This means that it does not have an insurance company which pays benefits when one of its employees gets hurt on the job; rather Emory pays out whatever benefits are owed from its own financial reserves. However, Emory does use a third party administrator, called Brentwood Service Administrators, to manage its workers’ compensation claims. This means that someone from Brentwood Services handles the day-to-day tasks and responsibilities of managing the claim, such as paying doctor’s bills and making sure that weekly disability checks are sent out on time.
If you get hurt on the job at Emory the first thing you should do is report your injury to your supervisor. As with any employer, it is always important to document when an injury happens and to document all of the body parts that are injured. If the injury requires emergency treatment, your supervisor can advise you where to seek treatment. If your injury does not require emergency treatment, your claim may first be passed along to Brentwood Services, the third party administrator, before any medical appointments are scheduled for you. In that scenario, a claims adjuster from Brentwood will most likely be contacting you. The claims adjuster may ask for further details about your injuries or how your accident occurred. The claims adjuster should then also tell you where you can seek medical treatment.
Medical treatment in the workers’ compensation system in Georgia is set up as a sort of compromise; the employer pays all of the medical bills, but the employer also gets to limit which doctors are available to treat you. Thus, Emory, like most employers in Georgia, will not allow an injured employee to schedule a first appointment with whichever doctor the employee chooses. If you want to see your primary care doctor for your work injury, you are most likely not going to be able to do so. Rather, you will have to choose a doctor from Emory’s pre-approved list.
Which doctor you choose will have a tremendous impact on your claim. The doctor that you choose becomes your authorized treating physician, or ATP. The authorized treating physician’s first task is to diagnose your injury. This may require not only a physical examination, but also possible testing in the form of X-Rays, MRIs, or EMG/NCVs. The doctor’s second task is to offer treatment. Usually workers’ compensation doctors offer conservative treatment at first; this typically means medication and possibly physical therapy. Depending on the type of injury that you have, and the seriousness of the injury, the doctor may also order more serious and invasive treatment, like injections and even surgery.
Beyond the primary tasks of diagnosing and treating work-related injuries, the doctor has a third responsibility, which is to assign an employee work restrictions. Workers’ compensation doctors have essentially three options when it comes to assigning work restrictions. If the doctor thinks that you can continue working normally without any limitations, the doctor will say you are cleared for “full duty” work. The doctor can also say that you should not work at all and just stay home at rest; in that case the doctor will place you on a “no work” status. But most frequently, the doctor will say something in between “full duty” and “no work.”
Most often, especially at the beginning of treatment, a workers’ compensation doctor will say that you can go back to work, but with restrictions. These restrictions can take almost any form, and will often depend on the type of work that you perform at your regular job. A doctor can limit you to “sedentary” work restrictions, which essentially means that you have to be able to sit and not be required to move much. However, the doctor can also simply place limitations on the amount of weight you can lift, or how much time you spend standing. If a workers’ compensation doctor assigns you work restrictions, the next question then becomes whether or not Emory has suitable light-duty work within those restrictions. If Emory does offer suitable light-duty work then you will return to your job but must refrain from doing any physical activities beyond the prescribed restrictions. If Emory does not have suitable light-duty work, then you will not return to work; you will stay home and begin to receive workers’ compensation income benefits.
Because the doctor has such an enormous impact on a workers’ compensation claim, it is important to choose the best one possible. Because the lawyers at the O’Connell Law Firm have been practicing workers’ compensation law in the metro Atlanta area for so long, we have great familiarity with the approved doctors that are listed on local employers’ panels. This is especially true with Emory.
If you are an Emory employee who has been injured at work, but have questions about which doctor you should treat with, or have any other questions about the workers’ compensation benefits that you may be entitled to, you can schedule a free consultation with one of the attorneys at the O’Connell Law Firm by calling 404-410-0034 or by using the Contact Us tab on our website.