Last year, the Georgia Court of Appeals issued a written opinion in a workers’ compensation case that shows how strictly the state’s statutes of limitations will be enforced against injured workers who do not file a timely claim. In the recent case, the state’s high court determined that an intermediate appellate court improperly held that the injured worker’s claim for benefits was not time-barred by the two-year statute of limitations. As a result of the most recent ruling, the injured worker will not be entitled to the benefits he once enjoyed.
The Facts of the Case
W.B. was an employee in a wood-processing plant. In 1993, W.B. fell through a floor while on the job, and his leg landed in a moving auger. W.B.’s leg had to be immediately amputated below the knee.
Initially, W.B. was approved for temporary total disability (TTD) benefits. After he recovered, he was fit with a prosthetic leg and was able to return to work. Because of his previous injuries, upon his return to work, he took on a supervisory position that was less physically demanding. During this time, his TTD benefits were replaced by permanent partial disability (PPD) benefits. His last PPD payment was issued in 1998.
The company for which W.B. had worked sold the plant to a new owner, and the new management placed W.B. in a more physically demanding role. This exacerbated his previous injuries, and his employment was terminated in 2009. Three years later, W.B. filed for the reinstatement of his TTD benefits.
The Court’s Opinion
The lower court allowed W.B.’s benefits, and the employer appealed. On appeal to the Georgia Court of Appeals, the court reversed the lower court’s decision to allow W.B.’s application for the reinstatement of his TTD benefits. The court explained that there is a strict two-year statute of limitations that must be followed. This requires all injured workers to file a claim for benefits within two years of their injury. In situations like W.B.’s, in which an injured worker had been receiving benefits and they were later terminated, the injured worker has two years from the date when the benefits stopped. Here, the court explained that W.B. stopped receiving TTD benefits in January 1994. Thus, he would have had to file his claim within two years of that date for the claim to be considered timely.
Have You Been Injured in a Georgia Workplace Accident?
If you or a loved one has recently been a victim of a Georgia workplace accident, you may be entitled to ongoing benefits through the workers’ compensation program. Workers’ compensation benefits can be temporary or permanent, depending on the type of injury involved. To learn more about Georgia workplace injuries and how you may be able to obtain compensation while you recover from your injuries, call 404-303-7770 to set up a free consultation with a dedicated workers’ compensation attorney.