George C. Creal, Jr. P.C.

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(770) 961-5511

George C. Creal, Jr. P.C.

Statute of limitations - open law book with gavel and scales of justice on top.- George C. Creal, Jr. P.CAs a compassionate Georgia workers’ compensation lawyer, I understand how crucial it is to navigate the complexities of workers’ compensation claims effectively. One vital aspect to consider is the statute of limitations. In Georgia, the statute of limitations for workers’ compensation claims is generally one year from the date of the work accident. This means you must file your workers compensation claim within this timeframe to be eligible for benefits.

However, it’s essential to note other time limits that apply to different aspects of the claim. For example, you must notify your employer of a work-related injury within 30 days or risk losing your right to claim benefits. If your employer fails to provide benefits, you have one year from the date of the accident to file a claim with Georgia’s State Board of Workers’ Compensation.

In the event of a significant change in your condition, you have two years from when benefits stopped to file a claim for additional benefits. For claims related to the death of a worker, the statute of limitations is one year from the date of death.

Our workers’ compensation code contains two limitation periods. One, OCGA § 34-9-82, sets forth the general limitation period for “all issues” claims, i.e., claims in which claimant initially seeks compensation for a work-related injury, and provides that a claim for benefits must be filed within one year of the date of the accident or injury that gives rise to the claim. The other, OCGA § 34-9-104(b), pertains to a “change in condition” claim. It applies to modifications of prior final decisions and requires that such claims be filed within two years of the last payment of Temporary Total or Temporary Partial income benefits. See generally, Tara Foods v. Johnson, 297 Ga.App. 16, 18, 676 S.E.2d 418 (2009) (two separate statutes of limitations apply to workers’ compensation claims); Baugh-Carroll v. Hosp. Auth. of Randolph County, 248 Ga.App. 591, 594, 545 S.E.2d 690 (2001) (provisions of “all issues” statute of limitation do not apply to “change in condition” cases which follow the payment of disability benefits).

Now, let’s discuss the difference between a “change of condition” and a “new accident” in the context of workers’ compensation cases.

In the context of Georgia workers’ compensation claims, it’s essential to distinguish between a “change of condition” and a “fictional new accident.” The Georgia Court of Appeals has provided clear guidance on these distinctions in Central State Hosp. v. James, 147 Ga.App. 308, 309-310(1), 248 S.E.2d 678 (1978).

Change Of Condition

A change of condition refers to a situation where an employee, after sustaining an injury and being awarded compensation, returns to their normal job duties. However, due to the wear and tear of ordinary life and the strain from performing their regular work, their condition gradually worsens. Eventually, they can no longer continue to perform their ordinary work. This scenario is considered a change of condition rather than a new accident.

Fictional New Accident

A fictional new accident occurs when an employee is injured on the job but continues to work without an agreement or award for compensation. As a result of the gradual worsening of their condition, which is at least partly due to their continued work, they are eventually forced to cease work. This situation is characterized as a new accident, even if there was no specific job-related incident.

Implications For Workers’ Compensation Claims

Understanding the difference between these two scenarios is crucial for both employees and employers. A change of condition can impact the benefits an employee is entitled to, as it may require a reevaluation of their wage-earning capacity, physical condition, or status. A fictional new accident, on the other hand, may lead to a new workers’ compensation claim with a different set of dates and conditions..

Georgia Workers’ compensation allows Employers to reduce employee benefits after being released by a doctor to work only for 60 days under OCGA 34-9-104. City of Atlanta v. Sumlin, 258 Ga. App. 643, 574 S.E.2d 827 (2002)(Employer was not entitled to reduction of employee’s disability benefits from the temporary total disability rate to the temporary partial disability rate since the employer failed to give the employee notice within 60 days of the employee’s release to return to work pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 34-9-104.); Kaolin v. Blackshear, 306 Ga. App. 491, 702 S.E.2d 440 (2010)(When an employer failed to give proper notice to an employee of a reduction in benefits from temporary total disability to temporary partial disability, O.C.G.A. § 34-9-104(a)(1) did not require that the employee had to undergo a change in status before the employer could again seek to reduce the employee’s benefits.)

Understanding the nuances between a change of condition and a new accident is crucial for successfully navigating the workers’ compensation system in Georgia. As your empathetic workers’ compensation attorney, I am committed to providing you with the guidance and support needed to ensure your rights are protected and you receive the benefits you deserve.

Should you have any further questions or require assistance with your workers’ compensation claim, please don’t hesitate to reach out. I’m here to help and will do everything in my power to ensure your case is handled with the utmost care and attention.

In any case, it’s advisable for individuals involved in a workers’ compensation case to consult with a knowledgeable attorney to ensure their rights are protected and that they receive the benefits they are entitled to under Georgia’s workers’ compensation laws.

George C. Creal

Call Now For A Case Evaluation
(770) 961-5511