Workplace Health Fall2022

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Fall 2022 Edition

Questions may arise such as:

Ankur Patel, D.O., RPH

• Is the injury truly preexisting?

When there is an accident or event that causes direct injury, questions can be answered in a straightforward manner. When the injured worker has a preexisting condition, the narrative and subsequent treatment require a degree of historical perspective. In the state of Georgia, preexisting conditions are defined as “a medical problem that existed prior to the workrelated injury that is the reason for filing a claim.” Further, Georgia workers’ compensation laws allow aggravation of preexisting conditions due to work-related injuries to be covered by the workers’ compensation program. From a pain management view, a preexisting condition often makes a workers’ compensation claim complex.

• Is it a side effect of treatment from other colleagues on the workers’ compensation medical team?

Claimants can have previous large joint (shoulder, knee, hip) injuries, degenerative disc disease, and systemic diseases, such as arthritis. The goal of the workers’ compensation treatment team is to return the injured worker to his/her pre-injury condition (baseline), not necessarily render the patient pain free. Many times, companies have completed pre-employment questionnaires, tests, and functional physical exams. It is helpful to have this information when patients are seen in the office as it can help determine the direction of care.

Patients sent to a pain management and spine physician who are being treated at a pain clinic prior to their work injury can be particularly problematic to treat. The physician must carefully evaluate their level of pain related to injury versus their baseline pain. Additionally, any interventional procedures performed must be evaluated carefully to account for a minimum level of pain the claimant is accustomed to without the current injury. Pain management physicians must rely on prior medical data, detailed and extensive physical exam skills, and outside information such as surveillance, etc. Further, physicians must evaluate imaging such as MRIs and CT scans using “context clues.” For example, degenerative disc disease, lumbar facet arthropathy, and mild bulging discs are common findings on imaging. However, these findings usually are not related to an acute event/injury. Most likely, if there is pain associated with this particular region of the body, it is an aggravation of this pathology. If patients continue to have pain even after there has been treatment of the aggravation, a functional capacity evaluation may be warranted.

Deciphering preexisting versus current injury versus aggravation can definitely be confusing and a grey zone in many situations. Clinical judgment and objective data must be equally weighed.

Which Came First: The Accident or the Injury?


Ankur Patel, D.O., RPH, is the founding/managing partner of Southern Pain and Spine Associates, LLC. He is a board-certified anesthesiologist, pharmacist, and fellowship trained interventional pain management physician. Dr. Patel is dedicated to advancing patient care to the highest levels via a conservative approach with medications while using his interventional pain management training. He is a graduate of the prestigious pain fellowship program at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center in Lubbock, Texas. Southern Pain and Spine has locations in Athens, Gainesville, Jasper, Newnan, and Fayetteville.

Many things in the field of medicine are absolute. Black and white. Positive or negative. Hot or cold. However, when considering a workers’ compensation case, circumstances and the actual course of injury may not always be imminently clear.

• Is it an aggravation?

1 – Which Came First: The Accident or Injury? 3 – Is the Holistic Approach Applicable 4 – Low Back Pain in the Workplace 6 – To Appeal or Not to Appeal 7 – Florida Legislative Update 9 – Ethical Considerations in Workers’ Compensation Claims 11 – Legislative Update from GWCA Lobbyist 12-13 Contractual Risk Management 17 – Georgia Legislator Offers an Olive Branch with Changes 18 – Partnering with Medical Providers 21- Message from the Georgia Chairman 24-25 Voted Best of the Best by Workplace Health Readers 31 – What Were They Thinking 33 – Does the Great Resignation Continue? 35 - The Importance of Light Duty Work 36 – 37 Ten Best Tips for Workers’ Compensation 38- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome 42 – Message from the Publisher 44 – 45 The Heat is On: Heat Illness / National Emphasis Program 46 – 47 When Are Falls Compensable in Alabama? 48 – Importance of Precise Communication Published by: Owner/Managing Editor Garlana H. Mathews President Director of Sales Michelle C. Wilds Please contact the Workplace Health team to advertise in our next issue. Call Workplace Health Magazine: 912-667-0441 or e-mail: or visit us online www.workplacehealthmag.comat: 2

• Is the holistic approach even possible in Workers’ Compensation?

• What is the holistic approach?

• Why are we even talking about the holistic approach?

The holistic approach is not only possible, but it is the best approach to use in Workers’ Compensation. It empowers the recovering worker and at the same time considers the entire worker’s physical, emotional, social, and spiritual well-being. When that occurs, the workers feel heard, understood, and can approach their claim more positively. They begin to view their claim clearly and their interactions are seen through a more positive lens. Why are we talking about the holistic approach? Because for the Workers’ Compensation industry to move forward, we have to be better for the industry to be seen in a more positive light. Those most impacted people must have positive experiences. That starts with all of us. For so many years, we have all focused on the accident, injury, and settlement and have, at times, forgotten about who is at the center of this process: the recovering worker. The pandemic has required us to take stock of what we do every day and how we can do it and be better.

When considering the compensability of an accident, we can be considerate of informing the workers of other options for recovery, i.e., health or auto insurance. When there is a delay in the payment of indemnity benefits, communicating with the employer about the importance of providing payroll timely will help in getting the indemnity out sooner while at the same time communicating with the employee if there is a delay and the cause of the delay and empowering their involvement in the process. Leaving a person uninformed lets them create a reality that may not exist. They may feel ignored, thrown away, or discarded, when in fact, there is a delay because payroll hasn’t been provided, the contact person is on vacation, or several other reasons. In Workers’ Compensation, silence can be deafening. We can start applying the holistic approach by instituting communication. Open lines of communication allow us to keep everyone who is involved informed. The adage that information is key is so applicable to Workers’ Compensation. Feeling heard and understood begins with open and consistent lines of communication. Starting with communication, we can holistically participate in the Workers’ Compensation system in a positive way to impact the lives of our workers a helpful whole way.

Ya’Sheaka C. Williams is a partner in the Tampa office of Quintairos, Prieto, Wood & Boyer, P.A. She represents employers, self-insured employers, and insurance carriers in all aspects of workers’ compensation claims, appearing before Compensation Claims judges throughout Florida. She was recognized as an expert in workers’ compensation law by the Florida Bar when she became Board Certified by the Florida Bar Board of Legal Specialization and Education. She is also a Certified Workers’ Compensation Law instructor by the Florida Department of Financial Services and has presented numerous classes and seminars to employers and claims adjusters throughout Florida.

Keeping the recovering worker at the center, as the focal point of what we do every day, we accept and decide to positively influence their experience. Also, putting yourself in the shoes of the recovering worker will help you to be more compassionate and diligent in how everyone participates in the system.

Ya’Sheaka C. Williams We have been talking about the holistic approach for a few years now, prompting several questions…


Together, let’s make a difference by holistically participating in the Workers’ Compensation industry. Let’s be the change agents the system needs. Let’s be the reason the industry has a positive impact on the lives of recovering workers.

Is the Holistic Approach Applicable?

• How do we get started? Here are a few answers. The holistic approach requires we provide support that looks at the entire person—the whole person—not just their physical health needs. Holistic support considers physical, emotional, social, and spiritual well-being.

The number of Waddell signs that are positive should be noted, as three or more has been shown to be moreOncepredictive.theH&P are completed, imaging studies are often ordered/reviewed. X-rays, CT, and MRI are often utilizeddepending on the injury, physical exam findings, and/or response to treatment. MRI must be interpreted withcaution; however, because there is a high incidence of pathology found in asymptomatic patients. Numerousstudies have shown that findings of disc bulges, disc protrusions, facet arthritis, and stenosis are often seen inpatients with no history of back pain. However, disc extrusions are not typically seen in asymptomatic patients. Thepatient’s complaints, exam findings, and imaging studies must be interpreted together in order to be useful. The large majority of patients presenting with low back pain can be treated non operatively with time, physicaltherapy, chiropractics, heat/ice, NSAIDs, etc. Multiple studies have shown that a brief period of rest (1-2 days),followed by a quick return to normal activities will result in the best outcomes. More invasive treatments including epidural steroid injections and facet injections can be considered for patients who have not responded to lessertreatments. Ultimately, in very select cases where the pathology is clear and the patient is reasonable, surgery canbe considered. The outcomes of surgery in the workers’ compensation population have clearly been shown to beinferior to the outcomes in non-WC patients; however, it can be a very useful tool in the right patient with theappropriate pathology. Surgery usually involves decompressing neural structures (laminectomy, foraminotomy,discectomy), with the possibility of fusion and/or disc replacement. These can be done through a myriad oftechniques, both open and minimally invasive. While low back pain can be a challenge to treat in this population, it is one of the most significant causes of lostwork time and expense. It should be evaluated and treated expeditiously and judiciously.

Initial evaluation should include a detailed history of the injury, a comprehensive physical examination, and reviewof radiographic studies (if indicated or provided). Most importantly, one must rule out serious pathology, includingfractures and/or spinal cord or nerve root dysfunction. In addition to these injury-related problems, considerationmust also be given to the possibility of tumor or infection. Usually a good history and physical exam will allow thephysician to quickly determine the severity of the problem.

William B. Dasher III, M.D.

When performing a physical exam on a patient with low back pain from a work-related injury, the use of Waddell“non-organic” signs can potentially help determine the likelihood of response to treatment. They must be usedwith caution; however, as several authors have suggested that these findings may not be as helpful as onceWaddellthought.

1. Superficial tenderness: the patient’s skin over a wide area of the lumbar spine is tender to light touch or pinch


5. Distracted straight leg raise discrepancy: the patient complains of pain during a straight leg raise duringformal testing, such as when supine, but does not on distraction when the examiner extends the knee withthe patient in a seated position

6. Regional sensory disturbance: the patient experiences decreased sensation fitting a stocking-like distributionrather than a dermatomal pattern.

Low back pain is a very common problem in the population as a whole and especially in the workplace. Evaluatingthe patient with low back pain can be difficult, especially in the setting of a workers’ compensation injury.

4. Torso rotation: lumbar pain is elicited while the provider passively and simultaneously externally rotates thepatient’s shoulder and pelvis together in the same plane as the patient stands. It is considered a positive test ifpain occurs within the first 30 degrees of rotation

7. Regional weakness: weakness, cogwheeling, or giving way of many muscle groups that are not explained on aneuroanatomical basis


Low Back Pain in the Workplace

3. Axial loading: downward pressure on the top of the patient’s head elicits lumbar pain

8. Overreaction: a disproportionate and exaggerated painful response to a stimulus that is not produced whenthe same provocation is given later. These responses can include verbalization, facial expression, muscle tension, or tremor

William B. Dasher III, M.D. is a board certified, fellowship trained orthopaedic spine surgeon at OrthoGeorgia in Macon, GA. He specializes in the conservative and surgical management of all spinal conditions and is trained in the latest minimally invasive robot-assisted techniques.

2. Non-anatomical tenderness: the patient experiences deep tenderness over a wide area that is not localized toone structure and crosses over non-anatomical boundaries

OrthoGeorgia physicians provide comprehensive orthopaedic care in order to get the injured worker back on the job as successfully and quickly as possible. Our onsite team of Certified Workers’ Compensation Professionals (CWCP) help manage the process every step of the way. (478) 745-4206

The use of mandamus review has essentially been limited to well-recognized situations including making sure that an action is brought in the correct court (e.g., subject-matter jurisdiction and venue) and by the correct parties (e.g., personal jurisdiction and immunity), reviewing limited discovery rulings (e.g., patently irrelevant discovery), and reviewing erroneous decisions by a trial court where there is a compelling reason not to wait for an appeal (e.g., Itabatement).isimportant

to keep in mind that mandamus means the case is not yet before the appellate court. As the Petitioner, you are asking the appellate court to hear a case that still belongs in the trial court so the appellate court needs to have all of the information about the case provided to them in the writ.

2. the respondent has an imperative duty to perform and has refused to do so;

Lauren Farrington, partner with Sanders & Williams, LLC, has been an insurance defense litigator for over a decade. She represents employers, insurers, and third-party administrators all over the state of Alabama. Lauren has a particular interest in workers’ compensation defense, trucking litigation, products and premises liability, and construction defect matters.

The ore tenus rule is also important when considering appeals. It essentially says as an appellate court we are not going to second guess the trial court on findings of fact based on ore tenus evidence, and the judgment based on those findings will not be disturbed unless those findings are erroneous and against the great weight of the evidence. It is grounded upon the principle that when a trial court hears oral testimony it has an opportunity to evaluate the demeanor and credibility of the witnesses.

1. the petitioner has a clear legal right to the relief sought;

Lauren is the mother of four children. When she is not on the baseball field with her three boys, she enjoys skiing, playing tennis, and reading.

Mandamus is an extraordinary and drastic writ that the appellate court will issue only when:

Because mandamus is an extraordinary remedy, the standard by which the appellate court reviews a petition for the writ of mandamus is to determine whether the trial court has clearly abused its discretion.


To Appeal or Not to Appeal

A few examples of routine issues taken up on appeal are medical causation, the last injurious exposure rule, venue, and legal causation. On the other hand, issues that are not appealable include issues of fact relating to a disability rating, the extent of disability, notice, and he said/she said situations with conflicting compensability stories.

3. the petitioner has no other adequate remedy; and,

4. the appellate court’s jurisdiction is properly invoked.

Lauren C. Farrington Low back pain is a very common problem in the population as a whole and especially in the workplace. Evaluating So, if you don’t like the bad decision in your workers’ compensation claim, what can you do? It’s simple in that, you can appeal or not appeal. However, not every decision is appealable. You first have to have a final judgment.

However, a writ of mandamus is a way to appeal while the case is still pending in the trial court.

Lastly, it is important to keep in mind the practical considerations of appealing. For instance, the cost of appeal may outweigh the benefit of appealing especially in those smaller claims where exposure is not high. It’s also important not to let emotions get in the way and to make sure you aren’t going into it to prove a point. Finally, it is important to consider whether you are going to make good laws or bad laws.

If you have any questions about when you can appeal a workers’ compensation decision, feel free to reach out to me at

David Langham, Deputy Chief Judge

Additionally, SB 542 was passed, and signed by the governor. This was discussed in 2021 and illustrates the maxim that bills sometimes require multiple attempts to achieve passage. It interests the workers’ compensation community because we have a fair number of opportunities to examine the “employer/employee relationship” in various disputes. The Florida workers’ compensation law depends on the employment relationship, and intent of the parties may be of relevance. The passage of SB 542 is not an amendment of the Florida workers’ compensation law, and may have largely escaped attention. It amends Chapter 448.111, the “General Labor Regulations.” There is clarity in 448.111(2) stating this new law applies to the evidence in any “cause of action brought under s. 440.10, s. 440.192, s. 440.38, s. 440.381.”

Just as there are broad proposals, bills can be very brief. HB 689 was filed to amend section 112.1815. Fla. Stat. That section created compensability for mental injuries without a physical trauma. It is commonly referred to as the PTSD statute. It was first passed in 2018 and afforded compensability when a “first responder” suffered posttraumatic stress disorder from any of 11 “qualifying events” listed in the statute. This amendment changes the statute of repose on the potential to collect benefits for PTSD.

Florida Legislative Update

Those are clearly portions of the workers’ compensation law.

The law impacts determinations of employee status based upon “actions of a business” during either a “public health emergency” (one might here reflect upon our recent COVID, but it seems applicable to emergencies of less systemic effect than a pandemic), or “a state of emergency declared by the governor.” The statute provides that various “actions of a business . . . may not be used as evidence” when a worker is seeking “to recover lost wages, salary, employment benefits, or other compensation.”

The 2022 session was interesting. House Bill 959 passed, but the final version no longer included the amendment of section 120.541, which imposes safeguards on the implementation of administrative rules. Senate Bill 1874 started as a much broader proposal with adjustments to 15 chapters of the Florida statutes. It was laid on the table in favor of HB 959 instead.

The law essentially encourages good behavior and equal access to emergency response such as education, training, safety devices or precautions. It should alleviate angst and questions in the setting of emergencies of various descriptions. The law will perhaps encourage and facilitate the actions of employers in responding to the challenges of health and other emergencies without raising questions of how their emergency response might be used as evidence in regards to later analysis of employer/employee relationship and the Florida workers’ compensation law.

The legislature also removed the constraints regarding the operation of OJCC offices. Following the deletion of the statutory mandate for 17 district offices, the Division of Administrative Hearings this spring consolidated District Lakeland into Tampa and Sarasota, District Port St. Lucie into West Palm Beach, and District Sebastian into Daytona and West Palm Beach. Part of that realignment will see all OJCC mediations held by Zoom unless an inperson mediation is requested. Thus, 2022 was not completely quiet in workers’ compensation. Some of these changes may be seen as landmarks, but there were no major changes in the substantive law of Chapter 440.


Essentially, if a business treats those “engaged individuals” (note that it avoids the used of conclusory labels like “employee”) with dignity and respect as regards amelioration or avoidance of some urgency such as the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, that treatment cannot be used as evidence that the employer must have considered the “individuals” to be “employees.” Thus including such “individuals” in some provision of compensation or training or health care does not support that the persons were “employees.”

David W. Langham, has been the Florida Deputy Chief Judge of Compensation Claims since 2006. His legal experience includes workers’ compensation, employment litigation, and medical malpractice. He has delivered hundreds of professional lectures, published over forty articles in professional publications, and has published over 950 blog posts regarding the law, technology, and professionalism. David is a student, a teacher, a critic, a coach, and a leader. He lives in Pensacola, Florida, with his wife, Pamela Langham, Esq.


Paula F. Smith

There are 4.9 million workers’ compensation claims filed every year. That means every day, there are thousands of claimants, adjusters, attorneys, and employers interacting multiple times a day in an attempt to resolve these Aclaims.workers’ compensation claim moves fast and generates countless emails, phone calls, Zoom meetings, and documents in its wake. One key element of a claim that may be forgotten in the piles of emails and looming deadlines is the ethical obligations guiding interactions between employers, adjusters, attorneys, and injured Outlinedworkers.

here are a few pitfalls to avoid for those involved in these claims so the resolution of claims may continue smoothly. Adjuster and Employer Contact with the Claimant

A study conducted by the Workers’ Compensation Research Institute found that an employer who calls the injured worker within one week of the accident and communicates the employee’s value to the company reduces the chance of litigation by fifty percent (50%.)

Takeaway The key to resolving any claim is good communication between all parties. This is a truth that prevails across jurisdictions.

There are several reasons to directly contact an injured worker who may file a claim. Early in the process, when the claimant has not retained an attorney, direct communication between the injured party and the employer or insurance adjuster may be the best way to gather the relevant information necessary to resolve the claim. Furthermore, employer communication with an injured worker soon after the accident is one of the best ways to avoid litigation altogether.

Depending on the state, the rules governing the ability of the employer, adjuster, or defense attorney to speak directly with the claimant’s doctor will vary. In Georgia, the state Supreme Court has held that the privacy requirements between doctor and patient typically subject to HIPPA’s purview are not in play. The legislature of Georgia had already enacted OCGA 34-9-207(a) which in part states that the employee is “… deemed to have waived any privilege or confidentiality concerning any communication related to the claim or history of the treatment of injury arising from the incident that the employee has had with any physician, including but not limited to, communications with psychiatrists or psychologists. The waiver shall apply to the employee’s medical history concerning any condition or complaint reasonably related to the condition for which such employee claims Incompensation.”Arby’sRestaurant Group, Inc. v McRae, 292 Ga. 242 (2012), the Georgia Supreme Court held that there were no legal grounds that prohibited an ex-parte oral communication between a treating physician and an employer to the extent confidentiality is waived by an employee in a workers’ compensation case. Of course, the Court in dicta made it clear that communications outside of the purview of the employee’s specific accident and injury were still off bounds. Other states still bar ex-parte communications with full HIPPA protections for injured workers.

Ethical Considerations in Workers’ Compensation Claims

However, that communication gets more complicated once the claimant retains legal counsel. When a claimant has legal representation, all communication with the injured worker regarding the claim must be made through the claimant’s counsel. This ethical obligation attaches directly to the attorney, but can implicate insurance adjusters and employers, as well. For example, Georgia’s Rules of Professional Conduct, Rule 4.2, provides that an attorney cannot communicate with a person represented by counsel without the consent of that person’s legal representation. However, it is not just the attorney who should be concerned with this rule. Ex-parte communication—communication with a party without their attorney present—can create confusion, and undue influence on the process, and may lead to an ethical violation. The upshot is this: the best practice for attorneys, insurance adjusters, and employers involved in a workers’ compensation claim is to always deal with a represented claimant through the claimant’s attorney. If communication with the claimant is necessary, always get their counsel’s prior consent before contacting theclaimant. Adjuster and Employer Contact with the Physician

Paula Smith practices Georgia Workers’ Compensation Defense with Willson Jones Carter & Baxley in Atlanta. She has thirty years of experience representing both self-insured and commercially insured employers in a wide array of workers’ compensation matters.



GWCA Lobbying Team

The offices of the Attorney General, Secretary of State, Insurance Commissioner, and State School Superintendent are all currently held by Republican incumbents and have Democrat challengers.

Jerry Keen serves as President and CEO of Joe Tanner and Associates. JTA has a long track record of service to an elite list of clients in Georgia. Please visit our website at

Over in the General Assembly, all 236 members are up for re-election as they all serve two-year terms. In the House, there are 180 total members with 41 open seats due to retirements or members seeking another office.



Currently, there are 103 Republicans, 76 Democrats, and one (1) open seat. While there are several competitive races, we do not believe the majority of seats will flip to unseat the current Republican Majority. This will mean there should not be major changes in key committee chairmanships and leadership positions. In the State Senate, there are ten (10) open seats out of a total of 56 seats. Again, these openings were created by retirements and members seeking another office. The current breakdown by party is 34 Republicans and 22 Democrats. There are some competitive seats here, but again, we do not believe the current Republican majority will change. There will be a new Lt. Governor and Senate President Pro Tempore, so the opportunity for major changes in committee chairs and leadership exists. We will monitor this after the November elections when the Senate caucus elections take place. For political junkies like me, this is “The Big Game” of elections. It keeps us busy through the fall as we prepare for the next legislative session in January. We will update you on the elections and other changes as they occur. Enjoy the balance of your summer and fall. And, most of all, please get out there and vote.

Legislative from the

Jerry Keen It is statewide election time in Georgia. Every four years, our state constitutional officers are up for election, so here we are in 2022. That means races for every position from Governor to Labor Commissioner are up for the voters’ choice. Throw in a United States (US) Senate race, and we have a full campaign season Of course, every seat in the Georgia General Assembly is up, as well. We have eight (8) constitutional officers up in Georgia. This year, there are only three (3) with no incumbent running. Those offices are Lt. Governor, Agriculture Commissioner, and Labor Commissioner. Current Lt. Governor Geoff Duncan chose not to run so the race is between State Senator Bert Jones (R) and Charlie Bailey (D). In the Agriculture Commissioner race, Incumbent Gary Black ran in the US Senate primary creating an open seat. State Senator Tyler Harper (R) and Nakita Hemingway (D) are vying for that position. Finally, the last open race is for Labor Commissioner between Republican State Senator Bruce Thompson and Democrat State Representative William Bodie. Of course, the biggest race to watch is the rematch between Governor Brian Kemp and former state representative Stacy Abrams. Governor Kemp won a close race in 2018 and this should be a competitive and spirited race right up to election day. The campaign is already in high gear as evidenced by all the ads seen everywhere. We will be watching this race closely as the Office of the Governor has a huge role in the Workers’ Compensation industry as he appoints the state board members as well as influences legislation.

Advanced risk financing software tools and techniques are assisting firms in generating scenarios that evidence the long-term value that can be created from retaining a specific amount of loss exposures.

The inherent risks in the agreements with these customers can create a substantial financial impact for an organization in the event of a loss in which the company makes payments for losses not under its control. Contractual risk transfer is generally considered a risk financing technique. When financing risk, a risk manager decides whether to retain or transfer the risk. If transfer is the chosen technique, the risk manager must decide whether to shift losses to an insurance company or another party through contractual provisions. The indemnification, hold harmless and insurance provisions affect the allocation of risk in a transaction. Indemnity clauses alter the way liability is allocated between contracting parties by requiring one party to indemnify the other for liability to third parties. The overall intent of the indemnification clause is really to protect the company from loss of funds.

The type of work to be performed or the product to be sold, per the terms of the agreement will also have a



During the audit phase of identifying, analyzing, evaluating loss exposures, and implementing a risk management technique, a firm should consider all of its contractual obligations with outside vendors and contractors.

A hold-harmless agreement is a form of an indemnity provision in that one party is agreeing to assume the responsibility of another. In the hold-harmless arrangement, the indemnifying party, the indemnitor, agrees to reimburse the indemnitee for all losses, no matter who is at fault.

As mentioned earlier, the basic premise behind the indemnification clause is to pass the responsibility of loss to the negligent party. In most cases, independent contractors are not working under the direction and control of the company that hired them to perform the work. Therefore, if the contractor is involved in serious loss resulting in high bodily injury or property damage expenses, the company should not have the responsibility of paying for claims that could arise. The company expects the contractor to step in and cover costs the company might incur as a result of the contractor’s actions.

The insurance coverage required in a contract is another key provision found in contractual risk transfer. The coverages act as the backup to the indemnification language. By requiring that a contractor or vendor is properly insured, the company can be assured the contractor will have sufficient funds to pay for a claim. It is important to note the types and amounts of insurance, and most importantly an additional insured endorsement will coincide with the indemnification provision. Again, the insurance should reinforce the terms of the indemnity clause.

Contractual Management

An important technique resulting from increased self-insured retentions and larger deductibles is the need to transfer those risks to responsible parties. This technique, identified as contractual risk transfer, should be implemented within organizations that make large out-of-pocket payments for losses before true insurance is triggered within their coverage portfolio. Contractual risk transfer is the risk management technique of allocating the risk among contracting parties. Every organization enters into contracts. These business agreements encompass many risk-related provisions. These provisions specify which contracting party is responsible for loss or damage and what insurance is required of the responsible party. The parties to a contract negotiate and agree on risk transfer terms that become the governing law for the particular business transaction. If performed effectively, placing responsibility for risk on the parties is consistent with their ability to control and insure against that risk.

Paul Koziatek Organizations choose to self-insure particular exposures because they believe it is more cost-effective to do so over time. For reasonable losses, with a small likelihood of deviation from year to year, it makes more sense to retain the risk rather than pay overpriced premiums to transfer the risk to an insurance company.

By focusing on the key contract provisions of hold harmless/indemnity provisions and insurance requirements, a firm can reduce its overall exposure by transferring the financial impacts of claims to third parties. Today’s world of high-cost litigation demands that companies reduce their insolvency risk as much as possible.

Although the transfer of risk is completely independent of insurance coverage, the indemnitor’s inability to fulfill its indemnity obligations does not relieve the indemnitee of its liability to a third party. For that reason, indemnities should take reasonable steps to assure the needed funds will be available when a loss occurs.


profound effect on which indemnification language is chosen. A company hiring a contractor to enter their facility and perform asbestos abatement may want to require an indemnification agreement in which the indemnitee has extremely little potential for out-of-pocket expenses, given the fact that any claim resulting from asbestos abatement is most likely going to be a costly piece of litigation.

Paul Koziatek is a Senior Vice President currently serving in our Marsh Tampa office. He is responsible for client service delivery including placement and development of strategic risk management initiatives and outcomes. Paul provides advice to both Marsh and client executive leadership across all lines of coverage with a specialization in alternative risk solutions.

The second most important aspect of contractual risk transfer involves the requirement of insurance coverages from the indemnitor. Without true loss transfer to an insurer, a company may not be certain that the indemnitor will have sufficient funds to pay for a loss. Indemnity agreements and other risk transfer techniques are only as good as the indemnitor’s financial ability to meet its contractual obligation to indemnify.

Reviewing an indemnitor’s financial records is not practical, so insurance becomes a necessary obligation for Thecontracts.overall goal when drafting insurance requirements is to differentiate between the types and levels of coverage that are carried out by the contracting parties. Current insurance language should be used rather than obscure or outdated terminology. The requirements should also reflect common industry practices and approaches to providing commercial line insurance.

Every organization enters into contracts to conduct business. A written contract describes the purpose of a business relationship, the responsibilities of each party to the contract, the number of funds exchanged, length, and other key terms and conditions.




Georgia Legislator Offers an Olive Branch with Changes Kenny Bishop There were several changes to the Georgia Workers’ Compensation Act as a result of the recent House Bill 1409, which took effect July 1, 2022. It appears, the Georgia legislators took a page out of Michael Jackson’s book and decided to take a look in the mirror and make a change. Included in these changes were amendments to the maximum compensation rate, which will impact indemnity benefits for any date of injury on or subsequent to July 1, 2022. The increase in income benefits are not retroactive. The maximum Temporary Total Disability (TTD) rate increased from $675 to $725 per week. Chamone! Likewise, the maximum Temporary Partial Disability (TPD) rate increased from $450 to $483 per week. Along with these changes, the maximum indemnity benefits recoverable by a surviving spouse with no dependents increased to $290,000 from $230,000.


Further, there were a few changes to the Board Rules, including the procedure for disputing medical charges and/or treatment. These changes were enacted to stop any smooth criminals. For any disputed medical charges under Board Rule 203, the challenging party must (1) file a request for peer review with a peer review organization authorized by the Board—now listed on the Board’s website—within 180 days—under the prior Board Rule 203, we only had 30 days to dispute it—of the payment, reduction, denial, or decision on an appeal of charges by the employer/insurer, (2) serve a copy of the request and supporting documentation upon all parties and counsel, and (3) follow the rules of the peer review organization with respect to any required additional copies. No penalties or interest will accrue on disputed charges submitted to peer review until the peer review organization makes a decision regarding the disputed charges. Penalties for late payment will not apply until after a decision by a peer review organization, or a final decision of an Award after hearing, whichever is later. The amendments also featured subsections prohibiting peer review services for future/prospective medical treatment charges and for determination of medical necessity. Last, there were changes to Board Rule 205. The only change to this Board Rule was that all medical services covered under O.C.G.A. 34-9-200 are now included in the Petition for Medical Treatment process. The old rule only covered treatment and testing, but the new rule includes all medical services and items prescribed by an authorized treating physician. For example, if Billie Jean was recommended a prosthetic, DME, spinal cord stimulator, hearing aids, eyewear, etc. by her ATP and the employer/ insurer did not indicate whether the medical item would be authorized or not authorized, since the employer/insurer was not her lover, she could file a PMT to expedite the recommended medical item by the ATP.

Kenny Bishop focuses his practice in Workers’ Compensation defense, representing Employers and Insurers in all aspects of workers’ compensation claims and disputes throughout Georgia.

Employers: Partnering with Medical Providers Offers Best Outcomes

• Invite all medical providers to the facility and meet with lead managers, safety team members, and human resources personnel.

• Create a good contact source to ensure access to all parties.

To start looking at partnering more efficiently, employers and medical providers suggest the following:

• Respect everyone’s time during business time.

• Schedule a meeting with all providers and outline expectations to ensure the partnership benefits all.

Injured workers have a limited understanding of their treatment plan and protocols, which causes a significant oversight of communication.

Since the pandemic, employers and medical providers have become distant due to limited visits to facilities and staffing challenges/changes.

• Always compliment great outcomes and care in any situation. All of the above will impact the best outcome for everyone.

The medical provider’s role is critical to the injured worker, as well as the importance of always clearly communicating the care plan. So, partnering closely with medical providers offers the best outcomes for both employees and employers.

• Ask the employee about their appointment(s) outcome and address any concerns immediately.

• Consider utilizing telehealth/telemed on minor issues and/or follow-up appointments.

• Inquire and consider offering transportation to injured workers’ appointments to ensure their attendance.

• Meet the hospital representative in your area and inquire about other non-emergency services as well as any free seminars offered to your employees.

• Establish a profile of contact information for the employer and their protocols, sharing all locations and contacts.

• Have medical providers share the availability of services, including hours and weekend access.


• Inform medical providers of machinery and all operations for medication dispensing.

• Build a rapport between all parties including pharmacy, physical therapy facilities, dentists, specialists, or any other medical personnel or providers you work with.

• Minimize and simplify paperwork to include what is authorized and contact information to their carrier.

• Ask for pricing of services, medication dispensing, and other services offered, including weekend access.

• Discuss transitional duty positions and be clear on their availability.

Yet, employers realize their involvement in their employee’s medical treatment after a work injury is valuable.

• Check out the vending machines and offer healthier suggestions.

Roberta S. Mike, WCLA, FCLA

• Provide written job descriptions to your medical partners, including photographs, if possible.

• Inquire about free services with providers such as nutrition, controlling diabetes and high blood pressure, exercise, smoking cessation, etc.

• Educate employees on different mental and behavioral health issues and topics.

• Include claim professionals in these meetings so they’re aware of services and communications with all parties.

• Be clear about what is available with medical facilities and never assume it’s a one-stop-shop. Know what they have, for example, diagnostic and physical therapy services.

• Educate employers and management on the use of regimented medications such as those used for high blood pressure and diabetes.

Roberta Mike is a senior field claims adjuster for Strategic Comp, a division of Great American Insurance Group and the past president of Atlanta Claims Association. She began her career forty years ago at Travelers Insurance Company in New York, and also worked for Fireman’s Fund Insurance Company in New York and Georgia, Ryder Claim Services, and Zurich North America, and Muller Water Products . Roberta served as president for Atlanta Association of Insurance Professional (AAIP) which is a local chapter of the National African American Insurance Association. She is a recipient 2017 Recipient Claims Person of the Year and Pioneer’s Award of 2018.




A Message from the Chairman Ben Vinson, Chairman and Chief Appellate Judge Happy Fall Y’all! I hope everyone had a great summer and now we can look forward to cooler weather and enjoying some outdoor activities. On behalf of the State Board of Workers’ Compensation, I am proud to report we are having a successful 2022 with a continued increase in all types of proceedings and board functions. The Board remains in good health and we finally saw the return of many of our traditional in-person events this year.

We were thankfully able to host our regional seminars and our annual conference in person… just like the old pre-pandemic days. The Public Education Committee of our Advisory Council organized an exciting program for the regionals that was filled with important information and perspective on several hot topics.

We were delighted to take the show on the road to five (5) cities across the state: Cartersville, Columbus, Athens, Savannah, and Alpharetta. I enjoyed visiting each city and speaking with industry representatives to discuss all types of issues. Fittingly, the theme of our annual conference was “Return of the Champions” to recognize the Braves and Dawgs championship seasons and our return to the field to move past the pandemic and gather together for a large, meaningful event. We appreciate all who participated by sponsoring, exhibiting, speaking, and Inattending.June,Ijoined

the GWCA Spring conference at Jekyll Island and provided a legislative update. The Georgia General Assembly convened the 2022 Session on January 10 and adjourned Sine Die on April 4. As predicted, three issues emerged that directly affected the world of workers’ compensation: 1) a presumption for first responders with PTSD, 2) a measure to address the coverage gap with PEOs, and 3) a $50 increase in the max TTD rate. While the PTSD and PEO issues did not pass into law, the TTD bill passed overwhelmingly and was signed into law. Our Advisory Council, led by Bobby Potter, was engaged on each issue and proved quite helpful as the legislative process played out. Importantly, we had many good discussions with policymakers on these and other topics to preserve a stable and balanced workers’ compensation system for all stakeholders. This summer, the Board reconsidered its guidelines for in-person hearings and revised them on June 27 to reflect the most recent information from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the Georgia Department of Public Health. The new guidelines lift many of the screening and other protocols while leaving in place a streamlined process to limit participation by parties that are sick. The guidelines are posted on our website and reflect the goal of our staff to remain on mission and operate the Board effectively and efficiently. As a final note, I am glad to announce that the Board has a new office location in Savannah at 35 Barnard Street, Suite 301, Savannah, GA 31401. Have a great second half of 2022 and I look forward to seeing everyone at various events this fall. Ben Vinson was appointed Chairman and Chief Appellate Judge of the State Board of Workers’ Compensation by Georgia’s Governor Brian Kemp in May 2021. He previously served as Director and Appellate Division Judge for the Board, appointed by former Governor Nathan Deal in July of 2017. In addition to hearing Workers’ Compensation cases on appeal, Chairman Vinson shares responsibility with Judges McKay and Bahl for governing the state agency, which includes regulatory, policy, and operational matters.



26 10th Anniversary Thank You For 10 Great Years! 10th




In the past, we would do an accident investigation, what thoughts come to your mind when you hear the word investigation?

3. Individual behavior is influenced by organizational processes and values.

Gene Scott is a professional Speaker and a certified member of the John Maxwell Team. He specializes in interpersonal and organizational communications in safety and leadership training. He is a Certified Utility Safety Administrator with the National Safety Council.

What Were They Thinking?

Gene Scott After an incident occurs, how many times have you heard or even said, “What were they thinking?” Not knowing what led up to the incident, it is easy to assume what they should have done.

In order to determine “What Were They Thinking?” you may need to change the way you look at your safety culture. The assumptions, values, and beliefs that people and companies hold onto can strongly influence the way they react after an incident.

Safety Culture Event Learning vs. Accident Investigation


Instead of an investigation, we need to use this opportunity for an event learning to determine what happened leading up to the incident. An event learning is comprised of the employee, their peers, and management. It is one step in human performance that allows the employee to explain what they were doing and thinking before the incident. Human performance addresses the roles of individuals, leaders, and organizational improvements.

Employees are more likely to openly communicate when given an opportunity to be heard. The outcome of the event learning can give helpful insight into preventing the same incident from occurring in the future, which could save lives.

The first place to start is by building trust with employees. You must look at safety differently than you have in the past. The safety culture must include open communications at all levels, from management to front-line employees, and peers. The more people involved in the safety of your organization, the better the outcomes.

1. People are fallible, even the best people make mistakes.

The Five Principles of Human Performance:

4. People achieve high performance largely because of encouragement and reinforcement received from leaders, peers, and subordinates.

2. Error-likely situations are predictable, manageable, and preventable.

Most would answer that they would question the witnesses, management, and employee/ employees assigned to the task, and anyone who was injured. The word “investigation” can give a negative connotation and automatically puts everyone on the defense.

5. Events can be avoided through an understanding of the reasons mistakes occurred and the application of the lessons learned from past events (or errors).

When it comes to safety, I am a firm believer in human performance. I have experienced first-hand the positive impact of reducing error, managing controls, and improving leadership and culture, as well as putting a new perspective on human error.


Eric F. Patten, RN, BSN

Sources indicate that “The Great Resignation” phenomenon continues in the United States (US), breaking records over the past eleven (11) months with 2.8% of the workforce (or four (4) million people) resigning monthly. There is a deeper conversation around who is resigning, why they leave, and what happens after they exit, which has sometimes been referred to as “The Great Regret.”

A recent Fortune magazine article by Gaelle de la Fosse showed over a third of resigners who expressed buyer’s remorse also felt their work-life balance had declined (36%), and about a third (30%) said their new job was different than what they were led to expect, and one in four (24%) said they missed the culture of their old job.

Does The Great Resignation Continue?

The COVID-induced “clean slate” change has employees moving to a “less is better” philosophy. This idea teaches employees and employers that they can work with less overhead and less stress from home and still produce good results. Ongoing debates about remote work cite versus work-life balance can improve productivity, but innovation and creativity can suffer. Any mutual benefits of this new balance still do not solve the problem of the exodus. No one size fits all. Employers are moving toward a proactive approach, offering flexible, remote, or hybrid work schedules. Bonuses, incentives, or pay increases are on the table, as are mental health benefits to employees as an additional incentive to combat stress. Although employers are tackling the Great Resignation head-on, employees are still resigning.

While some experts report not seeing the trend ending anytime soon, others are questioning a shift.

The challenge is real for employers dealing with both sides: the resignation and the regret. The solutions aren’t simple, either. Many workers resign for more money; therefore, with hourly wages increasing at a six percent (6%) pace higher than any level dating back to 1997, this is a problem. The biggest sectors hit are travel, hospitality, and retail. Nonetheless, the hourly wage issue isn’t keeping pace with inflation and many sectors cannot balance price increases with a wage increase. The solution to staff retention isn’t as simple as increasing pay.

Eric F. Patten RN, B.S.N., is the Executive Vice President of Operations & Business Strategies for The Kingstree Group, a leader in the Workers’ Compensation industry for over 24 years, utilizes a consultative approach to lead, create and manage clinical product lines for customers.


The exodus gates throughout American businesses are still open and only spreading. News outlets and other watchdog agencies report what the United States has seen since early 2021, when Anthony Klotz, Organizational Psychologist at Texas A&M, coined that The Great Resignation is happening globally.

Employees who have resigned or considering doing so cite that they are doing so for the betterment of their everyday lives. The worker is looking for a clean slate, a “redo” of sorts that may include focusing less on the materialistic and more on the family, improving themselves, and decreasing negative (outside) influences.

It’s obvious the Great Resignation has affected all employers. It is not preventable, but it is manageable. Listening to employees and appropriately addressing concerns is a great start to a more productive and meaningful work environment.


Additionally, accepting light duty work can help an employee from a medical standpoint. It keeps their doctors involved and up to date in their claims by having to analyze and approve light duty positions, giving goals to the employee for a progression to return to work, and is rehabilitative, as compared to palliative where an employee simply sits at home. Light duty work allows the employee to see what they can do physically, and to push forward for a full medical recovery. Offering light duty demonstrates to both the injured employee and fellow workers that they are a valued part of the company and allowing a return to work keeps all employees motivated.

The Employer

The Importance of Light Duty Work

The initial thought is many employees would prefer not to return to work (light duty or regular duty) and would simply rather settle their case. However, for those employees who wish to return to light duty, this can be beneficial for their physical recovery. They are not sitting at home focusing on their injury and/or their medical treatment. Rather, they are now focusing on a return to actual work. They are interacting with co-workers and are back on a regular schedule of returning to work every day. From a medical standpoint, this is a much better perspective than sitting at home. Light-duty work can also help the employee financially. They can earn closer to their pre-injury wage, if not their full wage, by returning to light duty work. Even if they are not working the same number of hours as before, the employee could be entitled to temporary partial benefits, which can increase their weekly income, and certainly would be more than temporary total benefits.

The employer can also reap significant benefits by offering suitable light-duty work to an injured employee. First and foremost, it reduces the employer’s indemnity exposure. By having an employee return to work, the employer is paying wages, not temporary total benefits, and they are paying for work to be done, not for an employee to be sitting at home doing nothing. It also sends a message to the employee that more is expected of him or her than to stay at home. Second, it is good for the morale of the employer and fellow employees. Many employees could be disgruntled knowing that their fellow employee, who was injured on the job is sitting at home while it is clear they can perform light duty work. An employer who provides suitable light duty work (and not make up work), demonstrates to other employees that the employer is willing to take the extra step to bring the injured employee back to work, which improves morale for all employees. Moreover, in this day and age of a staffing shortage, providing modified work can stabilize the employer’s workforce, and avoid the need to hire temporary workers to fulfill a position that an injured employee can fill.

The Employee

Finally, and most importantly, the provision of light duty work creates leverage for the employer to settle a case. Many employees, while professing a desire to return to light duty work, in reality simply want to resolve their case, and exit the workers’ compensation system altogether. By having light duty work, it allows an employer to put pressure on the employee to resolve their case because otherwise, their choice is to return to light duty work, which many do not want to do, or receive a lump sum and move on with their life. It is important for an employer to have a light duty program that is consistently offered to all injured employees to reduce the life of their workers’ compensation claims and to reduce the employer’s exposure.

One of the main components in workers’ compensation claims is the ability and willingness of the employer to return an injured employee to light duty work, as well as the motivation of the employee to return to suitable work. The importance of light duty work in workers’ compensation claims should be viewed from both the employee’s and the employer’s perspective.

Mark J. Goodman is a partner at Swift Currie McGhee and Hiers and defends employers throughout the state of Georgia in workers’ compensation claims. He is a member of the SBWC

Mark J. Goodman

Finally, a return to light duty work, from the employee’s perspective, could certainly help them if they are interested in a settlement. It shows the employer they are willing to work, even if the light duty work may be for a long period, or even permanently. Rarely does an employer want to provide permanent long-term light duty. This will put pressure on the employer to resolve the claim fairly and reasonably.

Chairman’s Advisory Committee on the Public Education Committee and lectures frequently to employers in Georgia on various issues.



3. Become a certified drug-free workplace and utilize a refusal of treatment form.

8. Create a return-to-work process. **Note, I didn’t say program because you need to include several parties in the process. The employee is involved, but you should also include the supervisor, the medical provider, and the adjuster. I rarely see everyone working together, which creates opportunities for the claimant attorneys to drag out the claim and resolve the case with a settlement accompanied by a voluntary resignation letter.

5. Develop a meaningful new hire and ongoing safety training program. In addition to meeting your Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) obligations, the Burdette case also established a willful misconduct defense for employees willfully refusing to follow safety rules. An effective and accountable safety program creates accountability. The goal of every safety program is to send employees home safely every day.

9. Create a timely incident reporting program. I recommend utilizing a third-party platform to assist customers with their claim reporting and management, but you can develop an internal process. Lag time significantly increases cost, especially in a highly litigated system like Georgia. Therefore, timely reporting along with an

10 Best Tips for Managing a Successful Workers’ Compensation Program

2. Develop written job descriptions including physical demands analysis to be used in the hiring process. These job descriptions are essential to Board Rule 240 and will significantly reduce the lag time in getting employees back to work.

The most recent Compscope report from the Workers’ Compensation Research Institute (WCRI) details that we have one the highest indemnity benefit payout of any state in the 18-state study. So, despite having the lowest indemnity rate of any state in the study, Georgia’s indemnity and expenses are forty-eight percent (48%) higher than the median of the other states in the 18-state study (California’s TTD cap is 1,356 and Illinois’s TTD cap is In1,734).Georgia, over forty percent (44.2%) of claimants retain counsel, and claimants in our state have a much longer duration of disability. This study was completed before the back-to-back indemnity increases. With Georgia’s TTD and TPD rates increasing at a record clip, you can expect the disparity of higher indemnity and litigation expenses in Georgia to continue. Short of legislative changes needed to address the “why” behind our length of indemnity and high attorney involvement, employers need to meet this challenge by digging to improve their risk management program.

4. Utilize an effective post-offer health questionnaire.

Steve Heinen Is anyone concerned that we have seen the largest back-to-back indemnity benefit increase in the history of Georgia’s Workers’ Compensation system? Proponents argue the weekly indemnity rate is one of the lowest in the nation, which is true. But—and there always is a but…

The good news is our system has not seen many changes since 1994 and that stability has created a predictable Insystem.2002, I developed a process called comP4®, which takes a holistic approach to Workers’ Compensation. It looks at twenty-one (21) activities from Pre-hire, Post-offer, and Prevention to Post Claim. Here are my Top 10 comP4® tips for managing Workers’ Comp:

6. Establish a safety committee to gather feedback and share safety information.

1. Develop a safety culture that the employee feels on Day 1 of hire. We recommend an employee safety perception survey every three years to ensure your safety culture is thriving.

7. Discipline employees who fail to follow safety rules and training. Points 5, 6, and 7 are keys to establishing a Burdette defense.

Steve Heinen, a partner at Sterling Seacrest Pritchard. He developed the P4 process (now comP4®) in 2000 and it has been utilized by hundreds of organizations to reduce costs.

His Work Comp Playbook for Employers has sold over 2,000 copies and his Compass Risk Management System is designed to help organizations implement a proven risk management process. 37 effective incident analysis is a critical part of an effective work comp program. Also, remember, that notice to a supervisor constitutes notice in Georgia.

10. Develop a claim action plan. I recommend a 3/7/21-day plan. Claims that start on track through the first 21 days typically stay on track. Here is the 3/7/21-day plan:

• 21 days – the adjuster has reviewed all the information, including their own internal info (like the ISO report), and makes a compensability decision.

If you believe it will become a lost time claim, activate the 7 and 21 day plan.

Education and communication are the two keys to managing a Workers’ Compensation claim. If the employee trusts the employer before the injury, they are far less likely to retain counsel after the injury. According to Clara Analytics, litigated claims increase costs by 347%, so investing in an integrated Workers’ Compensation program makes cents.

• 3 days – review the claim to determine if it is medical only or if you think it will become a lost time claim.

Georgia has enjoyed a ten-plus-year run where rates have declined. With the recent indemnity increases coupled with expanded litigation costs, Georgia employers will most likely see rate increases soon. Now is the time to build an accountable and effective workplace safety program.

• 7 days –the employer should be sending things to the adjuster to help them manage the claim. This could include a circle and signed copy of the panel, the WC-207, the incident report, and a copy of the post-offer health questionnaire.


39 AFTER TWO FOURTH-QUARTER DRIVES BUILT A 26-18 ADVANTAGE FOR THE DAWGS, GEORGIA’S 2021 OFFENSE DIDN’T HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT WINNING ON THE FINAL PLAY AGAINST ALABAMA. THE JOB WAS ALREADY DONE AS THE FINAL SECONDS CLICKED OFF THE CLOCK. or more. To Kirby’s point about Georgia’s games last fall and the fourth quarter: Only two UGA games last fall went into the final quarter in doubt - Clemson and the College Football Playo National Championship Game. Every other fourth quarter of Georgia games was a sleepwalk. Long considered a defen sive-minded coach, Kirby and his Bulldogs have matured into one of the most explosive o enses in the country. Yes, the Bulldogs’ defense was one of or the major reasons the Dawgs won it all in 2021, but Georgia’s o ense has gone to a new level of explosion the likes of which have not been seen since Mike Bobo was calling plays for Aaron Murray and Todd Gurley.That group would fly up and down the field - putting up 37.8 points a game in the rugged SEC. Even with that sort of scoring, Georgia’s 2012 team watched helplessly as their national ti tle hopes melted away against Alabama on the final play of the game.After two fourth-quarter drives built a 26-18 advantage for the Dawgs, Georgia’s 2021 o ense didn’t have to worry about winning on the final play against Alabama. The job was al ready done as the final seconds clicked o the clock. Kelee Ringo made sure of that after Stetson Bennett’s touchdown passes to AD Mitchell and Brock Bowers capped those two scoring drives.

2021’s transition confirms that Georgia is no longer a grind-itout o ense. But its head coach thinks the Dawgs are going to have to keep up the explosiveness in 2022 if they want to keep having“Wesuccess.willhave to be even bet ter and more explosive on of fense next year because we prob ably don’t have five first rounders on our team,” Kirby said. Georgia almost certain ly doesn’t have five first-round


The Dawgs lost their top two running backs in Zamir White and James Cook, who were weapons in the passing game, too. But their prowess on the ground will have to be replaced. Contrast that with the fact that although Georgia lost Jermaine Burton to Alabama through the NCAA’s Transfer Portal, six of the Dawgs’ top eight receivers came back to help returning starting quarterback Stetson Bennett in 2022.

41 players who will be selected in the 2023 NFL Draft on the entire roster. So Kirby is correct in point ing out that Georgia is going to have to get it done with explosion through the air.

“Stetson had a really good spring, too. Stetson went out and made some plays,” Kirby said. “He’s grown and gotten better. This is a guy that didn’t get these reps (in past spring practices). You think of a national championship quar terback: ‘Oh, he got all the reps last spring’. He didn’t. He wasn’t the guy. He was the third-string last spring. So some of these were his first time getting reps. He is also very comfortable in Coach Monken’s o ense, which is going to give us a chance to be more successful.”



The Tigers were only down two scores and were driving before failing to convert a fourth-down attempt in UGA territory. That’s when Stetson Bennett hit Ladd McConkey on a 60-yard touchdown play that put the Dawgs up 24-3. Auburn was done. McConkey had not been heavily recruited coming out of North Murray in 2020. After red shirting a season he played in all 15 of Georgia’s 2021 games, but his performance against Auburn was his best. Five catches, 135 yards and that 60-yard touchdown later, McConkey proved he was more than ready to play in the SEC. VS. MITCHELL VS. ALABAMA II 40-YARD TD MCCONKEY VS. 60-YARDAUBURN TD


Georgia was already in a commanding position over UAB - up 14-0 late in the first quarter. But when Brock Bowers exploded down the Blazers’ sideline the game was over. Bowers’ 89-yard touchdown was the longest play of the season for the Dawgs. The score showed UGA fans what was in store from Bowers. The California native had multiple scores on big plays in 2021, but the 89-yard TD against the Blazers set the stage for what was about to come. Brock Bowers, it turns out, is a star. Stetson Bennett had just been sacked by Alabama near midfield. That was about all that had stopped the Dawgs’ march down the field in the 4th quarter of the College Football Playo National Championship Game. Bennett had thrown the Dawgs down the field. It was 2nd and 18, and AD Mitchell knew he had manto-man coverage. Moments later Bennett tossed the pass towards the corner of the end zone with the Redcoat Band in it. After Mitchell wrestled the ball to his body Georgia’s starved fanbase screamed “Glory Glory!”. Georgia was on top of Alabama - this time for good. Georgia had not put No. 18 Auburn away quite yet mid way through the third quarter.

43 Arian Smith is known as a speedster. He got tons of atten tion during the recruiting pro cess because of what he could do in cleats. Against Missouri in 2021, Smith was able to show just how dangerous he could be in Georgia’s explosive o ense. Georgia was down 3-0 late in the first quarter. The team, it seemed, had seen enough of playing sloppy ball that cold November afternoon. Smith’s number was called, and he sprint ed towards the bridge end zone at Sanford Stadium. Stetson Bennett dropped in a perfect pass that Smith cradled for the score. That play led to Georgia scoring 40 consecutive points to blast Missouri in Athens. We had seen this sort of thing before, but Michigan’s defenders had not. The Wolverines were getting ready for the 2021 Orange Bowl in Miami, and watched as Brock Bowers took a screen pass and ran for a 77-yard touchdown against Georgia Tech. It was impressive, the Michigan Men claimed, to see Bowers take something so simple and make it so dangerous. It was not a good sign for Michigan, ei ther. The Orange Bowl was more competitive than Georgia’s latest destruction of the Jackets, but Bowers was lethal in both. They call it Jacksonville for a reason - Kearis Jacksonville that is. With time running out in the first half, and the Dawgs’ o ense struggling to score, Georgia’s de fense struck - forcing multiple Gator turnovers.NolanSmith’s was ripping the Gators apart - and Jackson was ready to send them home. A play after Smith intercepted Anthony Richardson, Stetson Bennett reached back and fired a ball deep to Jackson near the end zone. The amazing catch - over the shoulder - caused Georgia’s sideline to jump up and down with delight. The Gators had gone from having a fighting chance to getting blown out in a matter of two minutes - in part because of Bennett to Jackson. SMITH 35-YARDMIZZOUVS.TD BOWERS VS. GEORGIA TECH 77-YARD TD







The line to see Stetson Bennett was out the door. Fans from across the state gathered to see a slew of stars that have worn Silver Britches, but no one got more attention than Bennett. It wasn’t that long ago that the national championship-winning quarterback for the Georgia Bulldogs came out of nowhere. From walk-on to junior college starter to UGA starter to backup and back to starter at UGA again - Bennett has one of the most unique stories in college foot ball history.Nowthe so-called Mailman is getting ready to deliver once more in the final year of his college football career. The Blackshear native said he’s gotten close to a tight group of friends that he trusts, and who keep him in check even after the wild ride of the last few years. “Some people might know me on social media, but I try to keep my social circle small and close,” Bennett said. “It’s great to have friends like mine who treat me the same way.” But after a season with near ly 3,000 yards, 29 touchdowns, seven interceptions, an Orange Bowl MVP and a national title, Bennett hasn’t been treated the same way. He’s become the most unexpected rock star that college football has had in some time. Still, even Bennett himself is a fan at“Ittimes.issoneat to have genera tions of Georgia football players at this event,” Bennett said after wrapping up a meet and greet with fans who came to see Jake Fromm, Buck Belue and Lindsay Scott. “Just to be associated with them is really cool, especially with people like Lindsey Scott who is from down south like I am.” Scott is still known for being on the receiving end of the most famous play in Georgia history. That play changed Georgia forever. While not quite as dramatic, Bennett’s connection with AD Mitchell in the College Football Playo National Championship Game did the same for the Dawgs - putting them on top for good in that decisive game. Mitchell and Bennett drove together to the fan event over the summer, and the quarterback said the two of them can’t wait to make more memories this fall. “Me and AD were talking about how excited we are the whole drive here,” Bennett said of the 2022 season. “Just know your football and love it.”






46 August Vanderbilt27 at Hawaii September 3 Utah State at Alabama Cincinnati at Arkansas Mercer at Auburn Utah at Florida Georgia vs. Oregon (Atlanta) Miami (Ohio) at Kentucky Troy at Ole Miss Memphis at Mississippi State Louisiana Tech at Missouri Georgia State at South Carolina Ball State at Tennessee Sam Houston State at Texas A&M Elon at LSUSeptemberVanderbilt4vs.FloridaState (New Orleans) September 10 Alabama at Texas South Carolina at Arkansas San Jose State at Auburn Kentucky at Florida Samford at Georgia Southern at LSU Central Arkansas at Ole Miss Mississippi State at Arizona Missouri at Kansas State Tennessee at Pittsburgh Appalachian State at Texas A&M Wake Forest at Vanderbilt September 17 UL-Monroe at Alabama Missouri State at Arkansas Penn State at Auburn South Florida at Florida Youngstown State at Kentucky Mississippi State at LSU Ole Miss at Georgia Tech Abilene Christian at Missouri Georgia at South Carolina Akron at Tennessee Miami (Florida) at Texas A&M Vanderbilt at Northern Illinois

September 24 Vanderbilt at Alabama Arkansas vs. Texas A&M (Arlington) Missouri at Auburn Kent State at Georgia Northern Illinois at Kentucky New Mexico at LSU Tulsa at Ole Miss Green at Mississippi State Charlotte at South Carolina Florida at Tennessee October Alabama1at Arkansas LSU at EasternAuburnWashington at Florida Kentucky at Ole Miss Texas A&M at Mississippi State Georgia at Missouri South Carolina State at South Carolina 8 Texas A&M at Alabama at Florida at Georgia Carolina at Kentucky at LSU Arkansas at Mississippi State Ole Miss at Vanderbilt October Arkansas15at BYU LSU at


OleKentuckyMissouriFloridaArkansasOctoberTennessee-MartinTexasVanderbiltOleMississippiOctoberAlabamaAuburnMississippiVanderbiltFloridaatGeorgiaStateatKentuckyatOleMissatTennessee22StateatAlabamaMissatLSUatMissouriA&MatSouthCarolinaatTennessee29atAuburnvs.Georgia(Jacksonville)atSouthCarolinaatTennesseeMissatTexasA&M November 5 Liberty at AuburnAlabamaTennesseeArkansasatGeorgiaatLSUatMississippi State Kentucky at Missouri Florida at Texas A&M South Carolina at Vanderbilt November 12 LSU at Arkansas Texas A&M at Auburn South Carolina at Florida Vanderbilt at Kentucky Alabama at Ole Miss Georgia at Mississippi State Missouri at Tennessee November 19 Austin Peay at Alabama Ole Miss at Arkansas Western Kentucky at Auburn Georgia at Kentucky UAB at LSU East Tennessee State at Mississippi State New Mexico State at Missouri Tennessee at South Carolina UMass at Texas A&M Florida at MississippiNovemberVanderbilt24StateatOle Miss November 25 Florida at Florida State November 26 Auburn at Alabama Georgia Tech at Georgia Louisville at Kentucky Arkansas at Missouri South Carolina at Clemson LSU at Texas A&M Tennessee at Vanderbilt Dec. 3 SEC Football Championship (Atlanta) 2022 SEC FOOTBALL WEEKLY SCHEDULE


47 (9/4)2619Nov.12Nov.5Nov.29Nov.22Oct.15Oct.8Oct.1Oct.24Oct.17Sept.10Sept.3Sept.27Sept.Aug.ScheduleFootballSEC2022 Arkansas MissouriMissatLSUOleAuburnLibertyatA&MAlabamaTexasvs.CarolinaSouthCincinnatiMissouriStateatMississippiStateatBYU Auburn ArkansasMissOleGeorgiaatStateMissouriLSUatStatePennJoseMercerSanatMississippiStateTexasA&MWesternKentuckyatAlabama Florida StateFloridaatVanderbiltatCarolinaSouthWashingtonEasternTennesseeFloridaatUtahKentuckySouthMissouriLSUvs.GeorgiaatTexasA&M Georgia OregonSamfordvs.atSouthCarolinaKentStateatMissouriAuburnVanderbiltvs.FloridaTennesseeatMississippiStateatKentuckyGeorgiaTech Kentucky Florida(OH)atMiamiYoungstownStateNorthernIllinoisatOleMissSouthCarolinaMississippiStateatTennesseeatMissouriVanderbiltGeorgiaLouisville LSU A&MTexasArkansasUABatAlabamaatMissFloridaOleAuburnTennesseeatMexicoatNewSouthernStateFloridavs.MississippiState MissOle ArkansasAlabamaatA&MTexasLSUatVanderbiltAuburnatTulsaKentuckyatTechGeorgiaatArkansasCentralTroyMississippiState StateMississippi MissOleAuburnGeorgiaETSUatAlabamaKentuckyatA&MArkansasatGreenTexasLSUBowlingArizonaatMemphisat Missouri TechLouisianaatKansasStateAbileneChristianatAuburnGeorgiaatFloridaVanderbiltatSouthCarolinaKentuckyatTennesseeNewMexicoSt.Arkansas CarolinaSouth ClemsonFloridaTennesseeatVanderbiltatA&MMissouriatTexasKentuckyatSt.CarolinaSouthArkansasGeorgiaCharlotteStateatGeorgia Tennessee VanderbiltCarolinaSouthatGeorgiaMissouriMartinKentuckyatLSUAlabamaUTatPittsburghAkronFloridaStateatBallat A&MTexas AuburnUMassMissFloridaatOleCarolinaSouthatAlabamaatArkansasMiamivs.StateAppalachianSt.HoustonSamatMississippiStateLSU Vanderbilt KentuckyFloridaTennesseeatCarolinaSouthMissouriGeorgiaatMissatOleAlabamaIll.atNorthernForestatHawaiiElonWakeat Alabama TexasStateatUtahLouisiana-MonroeVanderbiltatArkansasTexasA&MatTennesseeMississippiStateatLSUatOleMissAustinPeayAuburn GAMECHAMPIONSHIPSEC • 3DECEMBER • STADIUMMERCEDES-BENZ • GA.ATLANTA, (11/24) (11/24)

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