Should Atlanta Workers’ Compensation Medical Benefits Cover Counseling for Caregivers?

When an employee sustains a serious injury on the job, that employee should receive full coverage for all medical treatment through workers’ compensation. This includes medical care that a licensed physician believes is necessary to provide for the needs of the injured worker. An Atlanta worker’s comp lawyer at Sammons & Carpenter, P.C. can help those who have been hurt at work to make a claim to get this medical coverage, as well as other benefits that they may be entitled to. wedding-1039067-m

After a worker has been badly hurt, he or she often ends up depending upon family to provide a significant amount of assistance and care. Spouses and other close relatives routinely provide unpaid assistance with normal activities of daily life after someone suffers a permanent or debilitating injury.  Being a caregiver for someone who has been profoundly and permanently disabled due to a workplace accident can be life-changing and it is a daunting responsibility. It is in the best interests of the injured worker for this family caregiver to be mentally prepared to take on the role that fate has placed him in.  As a result, one recent case looked at whether the spouse of a seriously injured worker should be entitled to have counseling covered by workers’ compensation.

Should Workers’ Compensation Medical Benefits Cover Counseling for Caregivers?

Safety News Alert reported on an Iowa worker who sustained damage to the spleen, multiple bone fractures, severe shoulder and arm damage, and head trauma. The worker ended up needing a shoulder amputation because of the severity of his injuries. He was also left with serious mental problems including depressive disorder, dementia, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

His spouse was assuming a caregiving role for this physically and mentally injured employee who had been badly hurt on the job. As a result, one of the workers’ physicians recommended that the wife undergo mental health counseling in order to prepare her and help her to cope with the challenges ahead. The doctor suggested that workers’ compensation should cover this because it was in the best interests of the injured employee for his caregiver to get the help necessary to be in a good frame of mind and provide effective assistance.

The workers’ compensation insurer denied the claim to pay for the wife’s counseling and the injured worker appealed. The case went through multiple different levels of appeal, and the coverage for counseling was denied at every turn. The court acknowledged that the couple had undergone counseling together and that this counseling had been covered. The court also acknowledged that it might be beneficial to the worker to have his caregiver receive counseling to cope with a difficult situation. Despite all this, however, the court indicated that the Iowa statute made clear that only the injured worker was entitled to covered treatment under workers’ compensation laws.

As a state court ruling, this decision applies only in Iowa. If other states are asked to grapple with the question, the answer could potentially be different depending upon what the court decides is required by local workers’ compensation laws.  Any time there is a question about benefits, injured workers need to understand how the laws apply to protect them. Work injury lawyers at Sammons & Carpenter, P.C. can help those in Atlanta and surrounding areas to get the benefits they deserve.

The Atlanta workers’ compensation attorneys at Sammons & Carpenter, P.C. can represent you after a work injury. Call today at (404) 814-8949 or contact us online to schedule your free consultation.