Employees injured on-the-job have generally relied on workers’ compensation to help cover medical treatment and maintain their standard of living, but they also faced a benefits cap. Updates enacted through Georgia’s Senate Bill 135, however, may now provide lifetime workers’ compensation benefits, according to KAKE ABC News.
Workplace accidents resulting in serious or debilitating injuries may require several years of ongoing treatment, rehabilitation and physical therapy. Prior to the new bill’s effective date of July 1, 2019, employees faced a 400-week cap on receiving benefits.
With the recent bill’s changes, an employee who requires medical treatment or maintenance because of a catastrophic workplace injury may apply for an exception to the cap. If approved, an injured worker may receive certain medical benefits for the rest of his or her life.
Catastrophic injury requirement
To apply for lifetime benefits, an employee must have sustained a “catastrophic” workplace injury. To determine that a worker’s injury is catastrophic, he or she must require the continued use of durable medical equipment or a health care device. This may include a prosthetic, hearing aid or a medical pump. A doctor must also make the determination within 400 days from the date of the employee’s injury.
Lifetime benefits coverage
When determined to be eligible for lifetime benefits, an employer’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier may then cover his or her ongoing treatment. Lifetime benefits may provide for the maintenance and physician monitoring of motorized equipment, stimulators, nebulizers, eyeglasses or other required devices.
Workplace accidents and recovery
By law, an employer’s insurance policy must cover a wide range of work-related injuries. Coverage includes the affected employee’s hospital bills, medical treatment and time off from work during his or her recovery period.
While the maximum weekly benefit amount an employee may receive has increased with SB 135, under certain circumstances, employees may also qualify for temporary disability benefits. When an injured employee returns to work but requires a new position at a lower salary rate, he or she may apply for partial compensation to make up for the difference in pay.