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Expected Future Law Changes in Workers’ Compensation in Georgia

Burdine & Brown June 4, 2024

There are some rather “scary” pieces of legislative changes coming soon to the laws of workers’ compensation in Georgia. Here are two of them:

When your doctor says you are at your maximum healing point (whether or not there is a job waiting for you) your weekly compensation benefits will be suspended.

This will have a clear and dangerous advantage for the employers and insurance companies pushing the company doctors to release/dismiss the worker when the doctor may not be ready to do so. The insurance folks truly want the workers’ benefits suspended. This would put immense pressure on the worker, especially if the doctor only cares about getting his next patient from the insurance company.

Furthermore, what if the release at MMI is clearly wrong? That will mean a battle that will take months to get to court.

What does the worker do in the meantime, especially if he/she genuinely is not at maximum healing. This legislation would put the worker at an extreme disadvantage.

Does the worker say to a possible new employer, “I have been declared at MMI by the worker compensation doctor, but I really am not at MMI. Do you think for a minute that a new employer would hire that worker? Certainly not.

Why is this legislation close to passage in 2025? Cost reduction. Period. The worker would receive fewer weekly benefits due to an arbitrary cut off because a company doctor says the worker is at MMI.

The virtual panel of doctors is coming soon. The law has stated clearly for over 50 years that a panel of doctors must be posted in a conspicuous place on the company premises so the worker can choose who to get treatment from in a job injury.

Now the talk is to change the law and allow the employer/insurer to maintain the panel of doctors on the world wide web. Completely changing the law would allow the employer/insurance company to never lose control of who the worker sees after an on-the-job injury.

Now, I have a chance to “break the panel” when the employer does not properly post a panel. Why is that important? Because the panel of doctors has on it nothing but insurance doctors. When the employer does not correctly post a panel, I can direct my client to a high quality independent \doctor who is not beholden to the insurance company.

This would be completely eliminated if the law is changed to a virtual panel.

This is just another example of the tightening of the laws against the worker in favor of increased profits for the employer/insurer. Sad that profit matters are at the heart of these two changes.

Clearly the workers do not and will not benefit if these changes become the law next year.