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New Court Decision on Deadline For Requesting Late Penalties

The primary purpose of the workers’ compensation system in Georgia is to deliver quick medical treatment and wage loss benefits to injured workers so they can recover from their injuries and return to work.  In fact, Georgia’s workers’ compensation system is set up to work without the involvement of attorneys.  Employers and their workers’ compensation insurance companies should pay the benefits that are owed and approve the medical treatment that is needed.

What About Late Penalties?

Insurance companies should also pay late penalties whenever benefits are paid late. Unfortunately, insurance companies often do not do what they are supposed to do.  For example, when a temporary total disability check is late, the 15% penalty that is due should be paid automatically.  The insurance company knows the penalty is owed when the check is mailed.  However, insurance companies often still do not pay the late penalty the law requires.  Because of this, you may need to get an attorney involved in your case.

The problem is that injured workers often do not know they are entitled to these penalties, so they do not ask for them.  When an injured worker hires us to work on their case, we will review the benefit checks they have already been paid to determine if there are late penalties due.  If penalties are due, we request those penalties and get them paid.  We want to make sure our clients get paid the money they are owed.

Time Limits on Requesting Late Penalties

Unfortunately, there is now another problem with getting late penalties paid.  The Georgia Supreme Court decided a case about whether there is a time limit to request payment of penalties.  Even though there was no doubt that the late penalties were owed (and the insurance company simply did not pay them), the Georgia Supreme Court decided that too much time had passed since the injured worker had last received benefits to come back and ask for penalties.  This meant that the injured worker could not get the late penalties that the insurance company should have paid.

The Georgia Supreme Court’s decision was based on a statute of limitations.  A statute of limitations is a deadline for filing a legal action.  There are several statutes of limitations in Georgia workers’ compensation law.  The danger with the recent Georgia Supreme Court decision is that it may have greatly expanded the meaning of the statute of limitations found in O.C.G.A. 34-9-104.  As a result, many more people will not receive the workers’ compensation benefits they are owed by an insurance company.

How Can I Make Sure I Get the Benefits I Am Owed?

Luckily, you can prevent your request for workers’ compensation benefits from being time-barred.  To do so, you just need to make sure that your requests are filed within the workers’ compensation statutes of limitations.  The problem is that this is an extremely complex area of the law.  There are multiple statutes of limitations that could apply to your case.  Because of that, we recommend that you get a free consultation with an attorney to talk about the exact details of your case.  By doing so, you can make sure you receive all the benefits to which you are entitled.  If you would like to get a free consultation with one of the three attorneys at our firm who specialize in Georgia workers’ compensation, simply call the phone number on this page or complete the “Need Help” form.

What if I have other questions about workers compensation?

Georgia’s workers compensation system can be very confusing.  You have to worry about getting the treatment you need and paying your bills while also worrying about not missing any deadlines that could cause you to lose your right to receive workers compensation benefits.

If you have questions, I would recommend that you try to get answers.  To find out more about how to schedule a time to talk to me about your workers compensation questions, just read this short article.

Jason Perkins is an attorney who specializes in representing injured workers.  He regularly publishes videos and write blog articles about Georgia’s workers compensation system and issues that are important to injured workers and their families. To be notified of Jason’s new workers compensation videos, subscribe to his Georgia Workers Compensation Video Series channel on YouTube by clicking the subscribe button below.

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Jason Perkins

Workers' Compensation Attorney

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