Report slams Georgia laws on workers' comp

Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Thursday, September 21, 2006

Injured workers in Georgia face some of the toughest obstacles in the nation to getting financial relief for their suffering, according to a study released Wednesday by a national consumer rights group.
"Georgia is extremely problematic," said Joanne Doroshow, executive director of the Center for Justice & Democracy, a New York-based nonprofit that defends consumers' legal rights.
"It's certainly a state where workers have not fared very well in recent years."
The head of Georgia's workers' compensation program took exception to some of the findings in the report, saying Georgia's system is more stable than those in California, Florida and other states.
Among the problems cited in the report:
• Georgia workers, who on average earn about $700 per week, receive the nation's lowest workers' comp pay – a maximum of $450 a week. Most states set the maximum rate at 75 percent to 100 percent of the state's average weekly wage.
• Georgia workers also have the shortest time to file a claim. The statute of limitations in Georgia is a year, vs. two to three for most other states.
• Georgia workers are cut off from weekly indemnity benefits — roughly two-thirds of their regular pay — after about 400 weeks, or just under eight years, with few exceptions such as catastrophic injury. Though they receive lifetime medical benefits, most workers aren't compensated for lost wages, physical or mental ability after 400 weeks, according to the report.
The report, "Workers' Compensation — A Cautionary Tale," is the center's first look at the issue. It found that workers nationwide as well as in Georgia are being stripped of benefits that would have been available to them 50 years ago.

For a copy of the complete article, contact CJ&D.

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