Thursday, July 2, 2015

New higher compensation rates in effect, but Georgia still lags other states...

If you did not already know, most of the laws enacted by the Georgia General Assembly have a July 1 effective date, so we just had some new laws go into effect yesterday.

It was a fairly quiet legislative year with regard to workers' compensation, but there were a couple of changes that may interest injured workers and their families.  Here are the two main changes:

  • Maximum compensation rate increase:  For injuries occurring on or after July 1, 2015, the maximum weekly temporary total disability (TTD) rate increased to $550.00 and the maximum temporary partial disability (TPD) rate increased to $367.00 per week. 
  • Death benefit increase:  For injuries occurring on or after July 1, 2015, the sole dependent survivor death benefit increased from $150,000.00 to $220,000.00.  This is the first increase for this type of benefit in over ten years.

The increases are a welcome sight to Georgia workers.  However, it is worth noting that Georgia's weekly compensation amounts still lag behind many other states.  For example, North Carolina has a $884.00 maximum rate, Tennessee has a $943.00 maximum rate, and Virginia tops out at $975.00 per week.  So, while Georgia's rates have increased over the past five years, it is still very difficult for a high wage earner who becomes injured in Georgia to survive on workers' compensation.

With this in mind, it is important that your workers' compensation lawyer evaluate your injury to see if it can be brought in another state besides Georgia.  Sometimes, a claim can be brought in multiple states.  It is called "concurrent jurisdiction."  In the last couple of years, I have had several cases come through my office that were able to be brought in other states.  In each instance, I referred the client out to an experienced attorney in the other state.  While it "cost" me the chance to represent them on a Georgia claim, it was the right thing to do for the clients.  Each of them got a substantially bigger settlement in the other state than they would have gotten in Georgia.