March 18, 2010

House of Representatives Passes Bill Permitting the State Board to Publish Awards

House of Representatives Passes Bill Permitting the State Board to Publish Awards

by Teesha T. McCrae, Esq.

In Georgia, Awards issued by the State Board of Workers’ Compensation are not published. However, this may change if HB 1101 becomes law. The House Industrial Relations Committee approved HB 1101, which was developed by the Advisory Council of the State Board of Workers’ Compensation. The bill has now made it through the House Rules Committee and was passed by the full House of Representatives on March 11, 2010. The bill provides “Nothing in this subsection shall prohibit the Board or its designees from publishing decisions of the Board, provided adequate security measures have been taken to protect the identity and privacy of the parties.” The bill will now go before the Senate for consideration.

Passage of HB 1101 would allow the State Board to enact a plan for publishing awards issued by the State Board without being in violation of the Workers’ Compensation Act. HB 1101 amends O.C.G.A. § 34-9-12(b). Under the current statute, “the records of the Board, insofar as they refer to accidents, injuries, and settlements, shall not be open to the public but only to the parties satisfying the Board of their interest in such records and their right to inspect them.” If HB 1101 becomes law, the language of O.C.G.A. § 34-9-12(b) could no longer be construed as a prohibition against publishing awards issued by the State Board.

Publishing awards issued by the State Board would be helpful to employers and insurers in several respects. First, the resulting transparency would likely lead to a more uniform application of the law. Second, employers and insurers would be better equipped to assess the value of a claim as well as the risks associated with litigating the claim. Finally, reviewing awards could reduce costs and allow for more expeditious resolution of claims.

Whether HB 1101 becomes law and what the State Board decides to do in response remains to be seen. According to the Georgia Self-Insurers Association, Inc., the State Board is committed to publishing decisions in workers’ compensation cases. Nonetheless, the bill must first make it through the Senate. We will closely watch HB 1101 as it makes its way through the legislative process.

If you have questions or comments, please contact your David & Rosetti attorney at 404-446-4488 or by visiting our website at

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