Housing Issues in Workers’ Compensation

Sadow & Froy Best Tips, Injuries We Handle

Housing issues in a workers’ compensation claim are very complex. Each case presents a new and unique challenge based upon the facts of that specific case.  In order to arrive at a solution for suitable housing in a catastrophic injury case, we look at the extent of our client’s injuries, our client’s residual function post-injury and his or her pre-injury housing status.  A successful housing resolution can make such a meaningful difference in our client’s lives. 

The issue of housing in a catastrophic workers’ compensation case can be very challenging because there is little case law on this topic and there are very few hard and fast rules.  Housing issues are complex because they almost always involve so many moving parts.   When focusing on housing issues, we start the analysis looking at the following: 

~             Deborah Krotenberg’s 2009 housing paper on the State Board website; 

~             Board Rule 200.1 which outlines the responsibilities of the catastrophic rehabilitation supplier;

~             O.C.G.A. Section 34-9-200.1 (a) which provides that in the event of a catastrophic injury, the employer shall furnish the employee entitled to benefits with reasonable and necessary rehabilitation services. 

~             Seminal housing case of Pringle vs. Mayor & Alderman of the City of Savannah, 233 Ga. App. 751 (1996), where the Court of Appeals stated the rehabilitation services include necessary home modifications or vehicle modifications and in home care or other services or equipment necessary for a catastrophically injured employee to return to the least restrictive lifestyle possible.  The Court concluded that the Georgia Code and Board Rules permit the Board to require the employer to provide handicap accessible housing to an injured employee.

Realistically, the Employer/Insurer should undertake the task of restoring the injured worker to the maximum usefulness that he or she can attain given his or her physical impairment.  If the increased costs of housing are the direct result of the on-the-job injury, the Court of Appeals has held that the Employer/Insurer is responsible for those costs. The issue becomes what is reasonably and necessary. This is a decision that is left to the State Board of Workers’ Compensation if the parties cannot agree. 

Our foremost goal is to provide our clients with housing where they will be able to function as independently and as safely as possible.  We achieve this goal by listening to our clients, advocating for and understanding their needs, and educating our clients and their families about the responsibilities of the parties under the Workers’ Compensation Act. We always try to ensure that our clients have reasonable expectations about what Workers’ Compensation will and will not be required to pay for. If you, or a loved one, is catastrophically injured on the job, it is best to seek early legal representation.