2019 Legislative Changes to Workers’ Compensation Law in Georgia

In 2019, the Georgia Legislature passed and signed into law multiple major changes to workers’ compensation law in Georgia. Here’s what changed:

400-week cap lifted for long term medical devices

The state revised O.C.G.A. § 34-9-200, lifting the 400-week cap for non-catastrophic claims on medical benefits for long term medical devices that typically require maintenance or revisions over time. Prior to this recent revision, a maximum cap was placed on medical benefits for non-catastrophic injuries occurring on or after July 1, 2013, to a period of 400 weeks from the date of injury. This was a controversial move and injured workers fought to have it changed. Per the new bill, the cap will no longer apply to the maintenance, repair, revision or removal of specified items for prosthetic devices, spinal cord stimulators or intrathecal pump devices and durable medical equipment, orthotics, eye glasses, or hearing aids. The changes are retroactive to 2013.

Maximum temporary total disability rate increased

Another win for injured employees, O.C.G.A. § 34-9-261 increases the maximum temporary total disability rate to $675. This is a $100 per week increase, which is one of the largest increases to date. A temporary total disability is an injury that does not result in death or permanent disability, but causes the injured person to be unable to perform regular job duties or activities. In Georgia, if a worker is either completely disabled, or the employer does not have sufficient light duty work, the injured worker is entitled to receive temporary total disability benefits. Find out if you can still get temporary total disability benefits if you’re fired because you were hurt.

Maximum temporary partial disability rate increased

The maximum temporary partial disability rate was raised to $450. The payment is calculated as a weekly benefit equal to two-thirds of the difference between the average weekly wage before the injury and the average weekly wage the employee is able to earn after. This is an amendment to O.C.G.A. § 34-9-262 and refers to benefits that are paid to an injured worker when they have returned to work following an injury, but they’re receiving less pay than they made prior to the injury. With a temporary partial disability, the injured worker is temporarily prevented from performing a certain set of job duties but can still work at a reduced level. Here’s some advice about what to do if you can’t make ends meet on two-thirds of your pre-injury wage

Maximum death benefits to surviving spouse increased

Lastly, O.C.G.A. § 34-9-265 was amended to increase the maximum death benefits which may be received by a surviving spouse as a sole dependent to $270,000. This compensation refers to death of an employee resulting from injury and other causes or a penalty for death of an employee from injury caused by intentional act of employer or payment of death benefits where there are no dependents. And while we’re on the topic, find out why you shouldn’t accept an offer when the adjuster shows up at your house to close out the entire death claim on the spot.

Get help from our Workers Comp Lawyers

These changes to workers’ compensation law will have a significant impact on injured workers in Georgia. Contact our law offices to speak to a knowledgeable Atlanta workers’ compensation lawyer about your claim at 404-354-5432.

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