By: Nathaniel Hofman, Esq.

If you looked closely at hearing notices issued in the past few months, you may have noticed a warning to employers and insurers to file a WC-1 First Report of Injury within 21 days of the hearing notice to avoid penalties which may be assessed for failure to file. This warning on the hearing notices as well as a new requirement effective in the beginning of next year reflect the State Board’s push to have a WC-1 filed in all cases. Although always required in lost time claims, the Board recently issued a notice indicating that effective January 1, 2019, a WC-1 will be required in all claims, including “medical only” claims, and failure to file will result in assessed penalties pursuant to the provisions of O.C.G.A. §§ 34-9-12(a), 34-9-18 and Board Rules. The enforcement applies to all claims with the Board, with old claims needing a WC-1 if a new hearing date is issued (hence the warning on new hearing notices).

What are the penalties for failure to timely file the WC-1? O.C.G.A. 34-9-12(a) states that any employer who fails to file a notice of injury within 10 days after receiving notice of an injury requiring medical treatment or causing an absence of work for more than 7 days will be assessed a penalty for not more than $100. However, O.C.G.A. 34-9-18 indicates that a penalty shall be assessed for failure to file any form or report required by the Board or failure to follow any order of the Board of not less than $100 nor more than $1,000. As the Board references both of these statutes in their announcement regarding the requirement to file WC-1s in all claims by January 1, 2019, it follows that penalties ranging from $100 to $1,000 can be assessed, depending on the specific violation. As with other penalties assessed by the Board, the penalty can be disputed within ten (10) days of being issued.

To assist in the filing of WC-1s, the Board expects that EDI will be available for filing WC-1s for medical only claims on December 1, 2018. ICMS is available for the filing of WC-1s in all claims effective August 1, 2018.