A Georgia appeals court has ruled that a home health care worker was allowed to pursue her workers’ compensation claim even though no hearing was held within five years of the injury because the COVID-19 pandemic limited court and administrative proceedings.
The Court of Appeals of Georgia, First Division ruled Thursday that the state Board of Workers’ Compensation wrongly dismissed a claim filed by Evelyn Fann-Roberts because a statute of limitations had expired.
Fann-Roberts filed a workers’ compensation claim in July 2017 after suffering a work-related injury the previous year, but her employer, Coastal Home Care, denied the claim.
Fann-Roberts requested several hearings before the board, but they were postponed after the Georgia Supreme Court̵7;s chief justice declared a state emergency in response to the pandemic.
An administrative law judge found that the emergency decision did not affect the plaintiff’s case and that normal deadlines applied because at the time of the decision, there was no hearing pending in the state board.
Fann-Roberts appealed to a state trial court, which reversed the judgment and determined that the case was affected by the emergency order.
The employer appealed, but the appellate court sided with the plaintiff, ruling that the claim was pending on the calendar and not heard simply because the emergency legal order limited hearings.