In 2013, a few changes were made to the Georgia Workers’ Compensation Act. One of these changes could drastically affect the ability of Georgians who are injured at work to receive the medical treatment they need for their injuries. This change is a change in the language of O.C.G.A. §34-9-200 to provide that an insurance company is only responsible for paying for medical treatment for an injured worker for 400 weeks after the injury.
What Medical Treatment Could Be Affected by this Change in the Law?
Many injuries suffered at work get completely better after a few weeks or months. However, there are many work injuries that will require medical treatment years into the future. People who have chronic pain from an injury often continue to need medical treatment for the rest of their lives.
Also, injured workers who suffer severe injuries to their joints (knees, shoulders, elbows, etc.) will often end up requiring a joint replacement at some point in the future. Those joint replacements often take place more than 400 weeks after the injury at work. Many times they have to be redone after 10 or 15 years. Under the change in the law, the insurance company might not have to pay for these joint replacements.
An Exception to the Limit on Medical Treatment
There are many other examples of injuries that require medical treatment more than 400 weeks after the injury occurs. Luckily, there is an exception to this change in the law for injured workers who qualify for a catastrophic designation. So, injured workers who are paralyzed, severely burned, have an arm or leg amputation, have a severe brain or head injury, or are blinded will still be able to receive medical treatment for their injuries even after 400 weeks if they can prove they are catastrophically injured.
Does the Limit on Medical Treatment Apply to my Case?
Also, it is important to remember that this limit on medical treatment only applies to injuries occurring after July 1, 2013. If your work injury occurred before July 1, 2013, this change in the law does not apply to your workers’ compensation claim.
Getting the Medical Treatment You Need
Because many injured workers now have limited time to get the medical treatment they need for their injuries, it is going to be important to make sure that you get medical treatment quickly and that you avoid the delay and denial of medical treatment that often occurs in workers’ compensation cases.
You may have questions about the best way to get the medical treatment you need. Many people want to talk to an attorney about those questions but have concerns about the cost of doing that. I offer free consultations about workers’ compensation cases. To find out what a free consultation is and what you would learn from it, just click here and take a look at this article.
Jason Perkins is an attorney who specializes in representing injured workers. He regularly blogs about Georgia’s workers’ compensation system and issues that are important to injured workers and their families.
You can subscribe to his Georgia Workers Compensation channel on YouTube.