by Jennifer M. Smith, Esq.
At some point, you may have received a copy of a Notice of Intent to Become a Party at Interest, usually filled out by a doctor’s office or a private healthcare insurance company, regarding their intent to become a “party at interest” in a Georgia workers’ compensation claim. What is a “party at interest” and how does filing one of these forms by a third party effect the workers’ compensation claim?
Pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 34-9-206 and § 34-9-244, a “party at interest” can be a group insurance company, a health care provider or other disability benefits provider who has made payments or who has covered the cost of medical treatment for a person who has filed a workers’ compensation claim. The “party at interest” believes the medical treatment or disability is related to a work injury and should be covered under workers’ compensation. Therefore, this “party at interest” is looking for reimbursement for any payments they have made or for reimbursement of balances owed to them.
There are two different forms to complete to become a party of interest, depending on who the third party is. Group health insurance companies and healthcare providers should use the WC-206 form and disability benefits providers should use the WC-244 form. By filing these forms, the third party is notifying the Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation, as well as the employer and workers’ compensation insurer, that they have a financial interest in the claim. According to the Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation website, https://sbwc.georgia.gov/parties-interest, these third parties must file the forms in paper (not ICMS).
Parties at interest are not permitted to file requests for hearings or mediations (except as permitted in Board Rule 203 regarding disputes for the amount paid for services) but are allowed to present evidence at a hearing requested by either the employee or the employer/insurer. In addition, settlements in compensable claims will not be approved unless all party at interest issues are resolved.