Richard C. Kissiah on 2008 Significant Changes in Georgia Workers' Compensation Law

A number of changes have recently been made in Georgia workers' compensation law. Some of the changes were effectuated by changes in the Georgia Workers' Compensation Act by the General Assembly that were signed into law by the Governor. Other changes were effectuated by the State Board of Workers' Compensation (Board) through its revision of its Rules and Regulations and its fee schedule. Additional changes were made by the Georgia courts through decisions interpreting the Act and the Board's Rules. This article summarizes the noteworthy changes to the Georgia workers' compensation law that were made in 2008 by the legislature, the courts, and the Board.
 
 The author first analyzes legislation that impacted the Subsequent Injury Trust Fund. He also explains that a proposal for a “Workers' Compensation Records Inquiry Service” failed in 2008, but it may resurface in 2009. He next examines the changes in fee schedules by the Board, including changes to the fee schedule for rehabilitation supplier-rendered services, the fee schedule for non-emergency transportation, and the Medical Fee Schedule.
 
The Board made a number of changes with regard to its Rules and Regulations that became effective on July 1, 2008. The article reviews the most significant changes, including those that deal with filing and service, communications and appearances by attorneys, the allowance of attorney’s fees, the filing of various motions before the Board, stipulations of settlements, background checks of guardians, and WC-240 actions.
 
The author next discusses other non-judicial changes. He explains the Subsequent Injury Trust Fund’s policy paper of September 2, 2008, and the impact of the Medicare, Medicaid, and SCHIP Extension Act of 2007. He also notes that there have been changes in the fees for copies of medical records.
 
A number of important workers’ compensation judicial decisions were issued in 2008. The article provides a summary of those decisions. Those decisions included the following topics that are relevant to Georgia workers’ compensation practitioners.
 
  • Exclusive Remedy Doctrine.
  • Attorney Fees.
  • Any Evidence Rule.
  • Statute of Limitations.
  • Offset.
  • Subrogation.
  • Death Benefits.
  • Presumption in Death Cases.