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Legislative Update for Injured Workers

Legislative update: A workers’ compensation reform bill will be introduced in the Georgia Legislature in the 2013 session. Assuming that it is passed, and approved by Governor Deal, there will be a few changes.  Most significant is a rise in the top weekly benefit rate.  The max rate is set to increase to $525 per week.

Also, medical treatment is to be capped at 400 weeks unless is a catastrophic case. Currently, it is possible to have medical go on indefinitely under certain circumstances, and usually, when a case settles, medical treatment is terminated with the approval of the settlement by the State Board.  Going forward, it looks as if medical treatment will terminate with completion of the statutory 400 week benefit period, should a claim last that long.

Job Searches: Any time an injured worker is on light duty or otherwise has a change in condition that could allow them to perform some work activity, they are required to perform a job search.  The question that arises under these circumstances is not that a serach should be performed, but with what frequency and intensity?  Any job search should be recorded in a job search journal. A good suggestion is that every work day is a day that should be spent on some kind of search related activity.  Following Department of Labor standards for a job search is a very good basis for rules for this activity.  Interestingly, internet job searches were not previously considered a ‘proper’ job search, but the law seems to be catching up in this area.  Remember, the most important thing is to thoroughly document your job search efforts!  Failure to do so could see your income benefits terminated.

New Evidence Code in Georgia: Georgia has updated its evidence laws to essentially mirror the Federal Rules of Evidence.  Our current rules were first promulgated in 1863, and have remained largely unchanged since then.  Needless to say, many things have changed since the Civil War!  These changes go into effect on January 1, 2013.  If you want your case heard under the old rules, your claim must be filed before the end of the year!

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