The Georgia Court of Appeals recently issued an opinion regarding what is commonly known as the change in condition statute of limitations. As we discussed in an earlier blog article on statutes of limitations, the change in condition statute of limitations provides a deadline for applying for and receiving additional temporary total disability and temporary partial disability benefits. In Georgia workers’ compensation cases, this deadline is two years from the last time that payment of temporary total or temporary partial disability benefits was made. Once this deadline runs, an injured worker usually cannot get more temporary total or temporary partial disability benefits.
Facts of Court of Appeals case barring additional benefits
The new case from the Court of Appeals discussing the change in condition statute of limitations is Lane v. Williams Plant Services. In this case, a check paying temporary total disability benefits was mailed on March 9, 2010. On March 13, 2012, the injured worker requested a hearing seeking payment of additional temporary total disability benefits. The question that the Court of Appeals had to decide was when the last payment was “actually made” because the two year deadline starts running on that date.
The Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation and the Court of Appeals determined that the payment of temporary total disability benefits was actually made on March 9 when the insurance company issued a check. This meant that it had been more than two years since the last payment of benefits was actually made. Because of this determination, Mr. Lane’s application for additional benefits was time-barred. It no longer mattered how good his case was. He was not even given the chance to demonstrate that he should receive additional temporary total or temporary partial disability benefits because he was four days late.
Avoiding statute of limitations problems in workers’ compensation cases
Lane v. Williams Plant Services demonstrates the dangers of statutes of limitations. Even though it was probably less than two years since Mr. Lane had received his last check, the Court of Appeals’ determination that the statute of limitations started running when the check was mailed meant that Mr. Lane missed the deadline by four days and cannot receive any additional temporary total or temporary partial disability benefits. This result is very harsh. It demonstrates why it is so important to be aware of the different deadlines in your case. Also, be sure to talk to an attorney sooner rather than later if you have any questions. Three attorneys at our firm specialize in workers’ compensation. A free consultation with one of them can help ease your concerns about your case. If you would like to set up a free consultation, simply call the phone number or complete the “Need Help” form on the right side of this page.