Before a 2016 ruling, the role the statute of limitations played in Georgia’s catastrophic work comp claims remained in question. Today, however, these limitations have been clearly-defined. How might case precedents regarding such claims impact your state’s pending legislation?
To receive income benefits beyond the typical 400 weeks, Georgia claimants must seek a status change to be designated catastrophic within 2-years. Most categories for designation are clear-cut: Brain injury, paralysis, major appendage amputation, severe burns, and blindness.
However the last, “any other injury of a nature and severity that prevents the employee from being able to perform his or her prior work or any work available in substantial numbers within the national economy for which such employee is otherwise qualified,” presented many interpretational challenges over-the-years, particularly in regard to time limits pertaining to catastrophic work comp claims.
How Long is Too Long?
In a 2016 Georgia Supreme Court decision, Roseburg Forest Products Co. v. Barnes, Barnes, whose left leg was amputated in a 1992 accident, returned to work in 1994. When laid-off in 2009, he requested reinstatement of Temporary Total Disability (TTD) benefits, adding a second claim of chronic knee pain, arguing the 2-year statute of limitations shouldn't apply because his injury was catastrophic.
However, the Court upheld the 2-year limitation, noting prior cases. They further prevented the claim from being revived after the initial period ran out, noting “rather than creating closure, it would instead allow an injured employee to simply revive a stale claim at any time by seeking remedial treatment…”
Confused about catastrophic work comp claims? Get the help you need in today’s ever-complicated worker’s comp environment. Contact MinnesotaCompAdvisor today.