by Alissa C. Atkins, Esq.

With all three of the Board’s Directors and most of the Judges at the Board’s recent Annual Educational Conference, we were able to get an inside look on the biggest issues they are seeing lately from the bench. Chairman McKay noted the difficulty the judges have when ruling on medical disputes, because they give great weight to the opinions of medical experts, who themselves often disagree. For example, he questioned whether a claimant could show that a spinal cord stimulator would provide reasonable relief, when in his experience the treatment is sometimes effective and sometimes fails miserably. He also noted the expense of the proposed treatment compared to other options.

Another judge cautioned that it should not take months to issue a denial of recommended medical treatment. He noted a specific case where it took an employer/insurer seven months to deny a surgery, which he found excessive. However, the reality is that it takes months to contest a medical procedure because we are finding that more and more IME physicians will not even agree to schedule an exam without having the opportunity to first review the medical. With the length of time it has been taking to secure IMEs, the delay did not seem unreasonable to us, and the judges agreed that the varying circumstances of each claim are relevant and assured us that they do take them into consideration.

Finally, another judge suggested that key forms be filed as early in the claim as possible. He recommended that WC-1, WC-2 and WC-3 forms be filed before litigation ensues as a matter of course, noting that his claim files often lack these forms. If you have any questions about the filing process in Georgia, IME physicians, or any other matter, we would be happy to assist.