|Georgia Case Law Update |
Georgia- New Case Law on Panels
The Georgia Court of Appeals issued a decision regarding the location of the Panel in LILIENTHAL v. JLK, INC. et al. A23A0290. A copy is below.
At issue here is whether the Employer placed the Panel of physicians in “prominent places upon the business premises” as required by OCGA § 34-9-201(c) when it placed the Panel in the locked Resource Room that could be accessed only by a key located in a different room. Here, the Court of Appeals found that the ALJ erred by confusing the term “accessible” with “prominent”. They reversed the ALJ’s finding, holding that the Panel must be placed in a prominent location per the Statute and directed the ALJ to address whether failure to do so warrants the Claimant picking a physician of his choice.
The takeaway here is simple and is aimed at all employers in the state of Georgia. The Panel must be placed somewhere that an employee can easily locate it. Examples would be a common area, breakroom, kitchen, etc., somewhere an employee is always free to go and have access to the Panel. Failure to do so could result in forfeiture of an otherwise valid Panel, meaning that we lose control over medical care.
Claimant attorneys may rely on this case in an effort to invalidate Panels (assuming it does not go forward to the Supreme Court). By following the guidance of the Court on location of the Panel, we can hopefully avoid unnecessary litigation. As always, please let us know if you have any questions about this case or anything else Georgia-related.
By: Zal Linder | Partner | Atlanta Office