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2016 Legislative Update: Added Expense for Employer/Insurers in Workers’ Compensation

July 14, 2016

Recent publication by Chris Whitlock and Mark Potter.

At the conclusion of the 2016 legislative session, Georgia’s General Assembly submitted several bills to Governor Deal which could impact the obligations of employers and insurers under Georgia’s workers’ compensation laws.  While the Governor vetoed headline grabbing proposals, such as the “Firefighter’s presumption,” several changes signed into law will increase overall costs for employers and insurers dealing with workers’ compensation claims moving forward.

House Bill 818, signed into law on April 26, 2016, increased the maximum weekly compensation rates for Temporary Total Disability benefits (TTD) and Temporary Partial Disability benefits (TPD).  The bill raised the maximum TTD rate by $25.00, from $550.00 per week to $575.00 per week.  The maximum TPD rate was also raised by $16.00, from $367.00 per week to $383.00 per week, to maintain the 2/3rd ratio of the maximum TTD rate.  Likewise, the maximum compensation for a sole surviving spouse in a death claim increased $10,000.00, from $220,000.00 to $230,000.00, to reflect the increase in the new maximum TTD rate.

As the maximum TTD rate increases, so do the overall costs for employers and insurers faced with a workers’ compensation claim.  This is the third increase of the maximum compensation rate for indemnity benefits since 2013, increasing the maximum weekly compensation rate for TTD benefits by a total of $75.00 over the same span.  Since 2007, the maximum weekly TTD benefit increased by a total of $125.00 per week.  As the weekly cap on indemnity benefits continues to rise, so too do the costs for employers and insurers faced with defending a workers’ compensation claim.

The increased weekly compensation rates go into effect on Friday, July 1, 2016.  All workers’ compensation claims for a date of injury on or after that date will be subject to the increased compensation rates.  For additional information on the 2016 legislative changes to Georgia’s workers’ compensation laws, or to discuss the impact of those changes on your business moving forward, please contact one of our firm’s workers’ compensation attorneys.

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