A recent Georgia Court of Appeals decision has blazed a trail that may aid injured worker’s in their recovery by giving them access to workers’ compensation benefits (i.e. medical services and/or treatment) not available on the date of the accident.
In the matter of Ward v. Pre-Engineer Systems, John Ward suffered a traumatic brain injury after falling nearly 40 feet while working on a construction site in 1973. The accident left Ward with ongoing cognitive impairment.
From 1999 to 2009, Ward was provided with rehabilitation services by his employer, Pre-Engineer Systems, but those services were then suspended by the employer. Thereafter, Ward filed a request to reinstate the rehabilitation services. In his request, Ward sought nurse case management assistance.
At issue before the appellate court was whether or not Ward was entitled to a benefit (here, nurse case management services) that was not an available benefit at the time of his work injury. The court opined that it was not sensible to suspend the employer’s obligations in that moment in time when the injury occurred, when the need for medical care goes on. Thus, when the evidence demonstrates that an injured worker has a need for assistance that was previously unavailable, an award of such service may be issued.