WHAT MUST YOUR EMPLOYER SHOW BEFORE IT CAN TERMINATE WORKERS’ COMPENSATION BENEFITS?
If you have previously been receiving workers’ compensation benefits in Georgia but you have fully recovered from the on-the-job injury, your benefits may be terminated based upon the (positive) change in your health condition. However, your employer is required to show some things in order to terminate the workers’ compensation benefits. Your employer is required to show that you could return to work because of the position improvement/change in your health and the employer must show that they offered you suitable employment prior to the termination of benefits.
Where the evidence authorizes, as it did in this case, a finding that the claimant has fully recovered from the injury received on the job and no longer suffers any disability therefrom, an award holding that there has been a change in condition is proper. This is true even though the claimant is disabled if such disability is due to causes unrelated to the on the job injury.
(Citations omitted; emphasis supplied) Williams Bros. Lumber Co. v. Magee, 162 Ga. App. 865 (292 SE2d 477) (1982). Nevertheless, EMC could not suspend McDuffie’s workers’ compensation benefits based on a change in condition for the better without showing that McDuffie could return to work because of that change and that EMC offered McDuffie suitable work. See Jones County Bd. of Ed. v. Patterson, 255 Ga. App. 166, 168 (564 SE2d 777) (2002); Smith v. Brown Steel, 232 Ga. App. 698, 699 (2) (503 SE2d 592) (1998).
The key determination is whether there was suitable work available and offered to McDuffie to diminish or terminate the loss in income. Sadie G. Mays Memorial Nursing Home v. Freeman<, 163 Ga. App. 557, 559 (3) (295 SE2d 340) (1982). If suitable work was not available, then EMC was required to continue paying indemnity benefits to McDuffie.
Regardless of the circumstances in this case, the Workers’ Compensation Act is highly remedial in nature and this Court must construe it liberally in favor of the claimant in order to accomplish its “beneficent” purposes.
McDuffie v. Ocmulgee EMC, No. A16A0092, 2016 WL 3884618, at *3 (Ga. Ct. App. July 15, 2016).
If you have questions about an on-the-job injury, contact our Macon workers’ compensation lawyer today.
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