Changes to State Board Rules Effective July 1, 2015

The Georgia State Board of Workers Compensation has eliminated a requirement that the employer’s posted panel of physicians for work injuries include only “non-associated” physicians, effective July 1, 2015, by amending Rule 201(a)(1).  This change does not help injured workers, further limiting choices, and giving the employer even more control.  The practical implications are obvious.  If the injured worker is not satisfied with the selected doctor from such a panel, what are his or her options?  Too bad, you have to go see selected doctor’s partner or associate!

Another change to Rule 201 eliminates the conformed panel option, an option which was not being utilized.  We have not seen an employer using such a panel in years.

Other rule changes effective July 1st include a strange amendment to Rule 102(A)(6) prohibiting parties and attorneys from recording conference calls with judges, without permission:

“No party shall make any audio, video, photographic, electronic recording or court transcription of a Board proceeding, including any conference call with an Administrative Law Judge, unless expressly permitted by the Board. Any such request must be submitted to the Board at least 24 hours prior to proceeding or conference call with notice to all parties. This Rule does not apply to an official function of a law enforcement agency, the State Bar of Georgia, or the Judicial Qualifications Commission.”

So what about a conference call scheduled with a judge on short notice?  Should lawyers refuse to participate in such calls on less than 24 hours’ notice, or perhaps refuse to participate at all unless a court reporter is present?

The only amendment favorable to injured workers increases the base amount payable to the physician for a claimant’s independent medical examination to $1200.  See Rule 202(b).

The full text of the 2015 Rules can be reviewed by Clicking Here.

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