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New Statute of Limitations Case Bars TTD Benefits

The Georgia Court of Appeals recently decided a statute of limitations case involving an injured worker who needed knee replacement surgery.  Unfortunately, the Court concluded that the injured worker could not receive temporary total disability benefits while his doctor disabled him from work as a result of the knee replacement surgery.

What are the underlying facts of this case

This case is ABF Freight System, Inc. v. Presley.  Mr. Presley injured his knee at work in 2009.  He had surgery on his knee and missed a couple of months from work after the surgery.  He returned to work at his regular job, but his knee kept getting worse.  A few months after returning to work, he was told that he would eventually have to have a total right knee replacement.

Mr. Presley also sustained an injury to his left knee in 2009.  This injury also required surgery an caused him to miss some work before he returned to his regular job.  He kept working and put off his knee replacement until June 2012.

Everyone agreed that the knee replacement surgery was due to Mr. Presley’s work injuries.  The workers’ compensation insurance company even paid for the surgery.  However, the insurance company refused to pay Mr. Presley temporary total disability benefits while he was out of work following the surgery.  They based their refusal on the O.C.G.A. 34-9-104 statute of limitations.

The Court of Appeals agreed that the insurance company was not required to pay benefits while Mr. Presley was out of work. The court ruled this way because it had been more than two years since Mr. Presley last received temporary total disability benefits.

Of course, the reason that it had been more than two years was that Mr. Presley did the right thing.  He tried to keep working and put off his knee replacement surgery as long as possible.  If he would have had the surgery sooner, he would have been paid for his time off work.

Why should we penalize injured workers for trying to do the right thing?

It seems wrong to penalize an injured worker for continuing to work, but we often see this unfair result with the O.C.G.A. 34-9-104 statute of limitations.  One of the supposed purposes of statute of limitations in workers’ compensation is to give some “peace of mind” to employers and insurance companies in workers’ compensation cases.  In other words, if an insurance company had not heard about a case and had not paid any money for more than two years, the insurance company would claim that it should be able to have some peace of mind.

The O.C.G.A. 34-9-104 statute of limitations rarely serves this stated purpose.  More often, it allows the insurance company to avoid its responsibility while penalizing injured workers.  In Mr. Presley’s case, the insurance company knew for years that he was going to have to have a knee replacement and miss work.

There was no reason for them to have peace of mind.  They knew his case was ongoing.  There is no reason that they should not have to pay him benefits.  Nevertheless, because of the way that O.C.G.A. 34-9-104(b) has been interpreted, Mr. Presley can never receive temporary total disability benefits again for his knee injuries.

What can you do to avoid this problem?

There are two possible solutions to this problem. If you are injured at work and need surgery, you may need to go ahead and have the surgery sooner. Having the surgery sooner may prevent the insurance company from avoiding its responsibility of paying you benefits.

The second way to avoid the problem is even better – change the law. Georgia and many other states have made it increasingly difficult for injured workers to get benefits in recent years.   Changing the law is certainly not easy, but it is necessary.  You can help change that by letting your elected representatives know that you want a fair workers’ compensation system in Georgia that protects the rights of injured workers.

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.

Brittney-lee orourkeBrittney-lee orourke
05:23 18 Feb 22
Amazing! Jason and his team were very helpful and had the best communication by far. Walked me though every step with great detail and had answers for any question I had. They handled my case better then I could imagine, it was a weird case and they stayed on top of it and kept me updated every step of the way! Highly recommend this Team! Thanks so much to Jason and his Awesome team!-Brittney
China JonesChina Jones
18:58 08 Feb 22
I absolutely love this group of attorneys, when I was at my lowest they did everything they could to help me get justice for my injury. I believe if I were to have never picked my phone up and called the amazing group that helped me I definitely would not have received my idea of rights. If you have an issue and are just not sure please understand that they will help you, stay in contact, answer any question you have, and for sure get you the justice you deserve I thank them from the bottom of my heart and I will definitely refer them to anyone who has been hurt because they most definitely care about their work and clients.
Luv LocsLuv Locs
16:08 15 Jan 22
The entire law office was attentive and responsive to all of my concerns dealing with my workers compensation case.
21:14 02 Jan 22
If you must get a lawyer involved, you’d do well to work with Jason Perkins and his team at Perkins Studdard Law.They were thorough in gathering information and in sharing all the steps in the workers comp process specific to my case. Jason and the team were responsive to my bevy of questions and concerns.I appreciated the informative videos and consultations provided by Jason over video meetings and multiple phone calls.I hope I’m never injured on the job again. However, if I am and if my employer responds as my previous employer did, I’ll contact Perkins Studdard Law immediately to handle the case.
Dana BessDana Bess
23:57 10 Dec 21
Everyone at Perkins Studdard was kind and professional. They were always extremely responsive and answered all questions that I had and followed up to make sure I had an understanding of what was going on along with emailing videos to explain every step of my case so I would know what to expect and be prepared. Jason is a very genuine person and I trusted him with my case. He answered so many questions for me even before I retained him as my WC lawyer. I highly recommend him and his associates at Perkins Studdard.

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