Generally, a “change in condition for the worse” is defined as a change in the injured employee’s wage earning capacity, physical condition, or status after the original “condition” was established under the law. (O.C.G.A. § 34-9-104) The original condition is usually the establishment of the worker’s weekly benefits or medical status.
The injured employee has the burden of demonstrating that change has occurred. To do this, the injured worker must demonstrate that (1) her condition has changed for the worse; (2) that because of this change, she is unable to continue to work; (3) that because of this inability to work, she has either a total or partial loss of income; and (4) that the inability to work was caused by the original work injury.
A typical “change in condition” situation occurs when the employee hurt-at-work has an accepted and valid occupational injury. She is provided weekly income benefits (temporary total disability) for a period of time, as well as medical treatment. At some point in time, she was able to return to work for the employer. However, after a few months, the injured employee’s physical condition worsened causing her to miss time from her work.
As you can see, the original condition was established when her claim was accepted under workers’ compensation and she was provided income and medical benefits. After her return to work, her condition changed for the worse. Because of this change the injured worker became unable to work which caused some loss of income. For our purposes, we must presume that the claimant’s recent inability to work was caused by the original work accident. Consequently, the injured employee may be entitled to a recommencement of workers’ compensation income benefits provided that a proper filing was made with the State Board.
For information, please contact Bryan Ramos at 404-355-3431 or email.