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Court Considers Constitutionality of Workers’ Compensation Filing Time Requirements

The first question in almost any Georgia workers’ compensation case is when the claim has to be filed. This is because statutes of limitations and statutes of repose can limit the time during which an individual can file a claim.

Alarm ClockIn a recent case, one state’s supreme court considered the constitutionality of a statute limiting the time to bring a workers’ compensation claim. Under that state’s workers’ compensation act, a provision limited the time an injured worker has to prove a claim. The statute stated that an employee attempting to prove a workers’ compensation claim has to show that the employee was owed compensation within 12 years of the date of the accident.

In that case, two employees had separately filed workers’ compensation claims and had received benefits, and in both cases, the employees’ conditions worsened later. Both employees filed claims for additional benefits to receive permanent total disability benefits more than 12 years after the workplace accidents had occurred. The employees argued the statute was unconstitutional under that state’s constitution.

That state’s supreme court explained that the law was properly classified as a statute of repose rather than a statute of limitations because it cut off the time period during which a claimant could file additional claims based on changed circumstances. It also found that the statute was constitutional because the statute was a reasonable means of ensuring that employers and insurance companies would have a limited time period of liability.

Statute of Limitations in Georgia Workers’ Compensation Cases

In Georgia, under O.C.G.A. 34-9-82, a claimant generally has to file a workers’ compensation claim within one year of the injury. However, if the employer has paid workers’ compensation benefits, the claim must be filed within one year of the last remedial treatment or within two years of the last payment of weekly benefits. If an employee dies as a result of a workplace injury, the right to compensation must be filed within one year of the death of the employee.

In some cases, the statute of limitations may be “tolled” or extended. For example, the statute of limitations may be tolled if the employee is mentally incompetent, or if the employer intentionally misrepresents or conceals a fact from the employee that deters the employee from pursuing a claim. In addition, if there is a change in condition after the last payment of income benefits, generally an employee will have two years to file an application for a change in condition. In any case, understanding the statute of limitations in your case is an essential first step.

Contact a Georgia Workers’ Compensation Attorney

If you have been injured in a Georgia work-related accident, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. At the Georgia law office of J. Franklin Burns, P.C., we have decades of experience in Georgia workers’ compensation claims and can help you pursue the benefits you deserve. Since our Atlanta workers’ compensation attorneys were insurance defense attorneys first, our office has the advantage of understanding the other side’s perspective in order to advance our clients’ cases at trial or through settlement. For a free consultation, call us at 404-303-7770 or contact us by filling out our online form.

More Blog Entries:

Georgia Supreme Court Holds That Employer Not Required to Show Suitable Employment in Resolved Work-Aggravation Injury Cases, November 28, 2017, Atlanta Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Blog

Understanding the Differences Between Workers’ Compensation Claims and Personal Injury Claims in Georgia, December 6, 2017, Atlanta Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Blog