Articles Posted in Workers Compensation

Recently, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a Georgia workers’ compensation and personal injury case discussing whether the defendant employer could be held liable for failing to provide medical care to the injured employee-plaintiff after he was injured on the job. Ultimately, the court concluded that the “sole remedy” provision of the Georgia Workers’ Compensation Act precluded the plaintiff’s claim.

According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff was injured in a Georgia car accident while he was working for the defendant. The exact details of the crash are not particularly crucial to the case. However, after the accident, the plaintiff claims that his employer denied him access to medical care and insurance, which delayed his treatment. The plaintiff claimed this delay aggravated his injuries, eventually resulting in the plaintiff suffering several strokes. The plaintiff filed a personal injury case against his employer.

The employer argued that the sole-remedy provision to the Georgia Workers’ Compensation Act precluded the plaintiff’s ability to bring the claim. The sole-remedy provision states that “the rights and the remedies granted to an employee by this chapter shall exclude . . . all other rights and remedies . . . and all other civil liabilities whatsoever at common law or otherwise, on account of such injury, loss of service, or death.” Essentially, the sole remedy provision prevents an employee from pursuing a personal injury case against an employer if they can also bring a workers’ compensation claim.

Earlier this month, the Georgia Court of Appeals issued a written opinion in a workplace injury lawsuit brought by a man who was working as an independent contractor when he stepped into a puddle of hazardous chemicals. The case required the court to determine if the defendant company violated any duty that it owed to the plaintiff. Finding that the company fulfilled any duty it had to the plaintiff, the court dismissed the plaintiff’s lawsuit.

Workplace Injury Cases Generally

There are two types of Georgia workplace injury cases. The first is a Georgia workers’ compensation claim. These claims are appropriate when the worker’s injury is caused while on the job, and the party responsible for the worker’s injury is either the worker himself or his employer.

If, however, the worker was injured due to the negligence of a third party, a Georgia personal injury lawsuit may be appropriate. Georgia personal injury cases are often preferred to workers’ compensation cases because the compensation amount in personal injury cases tends to be more significant.

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Workplace accidents and injuries are common. From tripping over a cord left on the floor to injuring your back while doing heavy lifting, most Georgia employees are vulnerable to at least some type of injury at their place of work. When accidents occur and Georgia residents are injured while on the job, they may be able to receive workers’ compensation benefits to help them out financially while they recover. Administered through the State Board of Workers’ Compensation, the benefits can cover medical expenses, lost wages, and even temporary or permanent injuries or disabilities.

However, like any insurance policy, actually recovering under the scheme can sometimes be difficult, as there are many complicated rules and regulations governing worker’s compensation. Although disputes are initially handled in administrative agencies, sometimes injured accident victims may have to bring their case all the way to court to settle disputes over the appropriate amount of compensation.

For example, the Court of Appeals of Georgia recently considered the case of a Georgia woman who was injured while at work when she tripped over an open drawer and fell onto the floor. She suffered severe pain and injuries in her shoulders and arms, limiting her ability to work. After many visits to several doctors and continuing pain in her shoulders and arms, she eventually filed for workers’ compensation. She was awarded benefits, but only for a limited period of time. Because one of the doctors she visited had said that he thought she was able to return to work, even though the plaintiff herself did not feel as though she could, she was only awarded benefits to cover up to that point. The Court of Appeals upheld this decision, finding that it was based upon evidence in the record and that the doctor’s opinion could be relied upon to limit her benefits in this way.

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Recently, a Georgia appellate court issued an opinion in a lawsuit stemming from injuries a man suffered while working on a homeowner’s property. According to the court’s opinion, the homeowner owned and operated a contracting, framing, and remodeling business. The plaintiff worked for the defendant’s company. On some occasions, the employer offered his employees an opportunity to perform tasks on his personal property, to earn extra money. This work was “completely separate” from their work for the company and was performed for the homeowner’s personal benefits.

On the occasion giving rise to the claim, another employee asked the owner if he could perform some tasks at his home on the upcoming Saturday. The owner agreed and paid the employee. The employee then asked the plaintiff if he wanted to make extra money by assisting him with the tasks; the plaintiff agreed. On the day of the incident, the homeowner left his residence while both the employee and plaintiff worked at his home. The employee told the plaintiff that the homeowner asked him to trim the fence and burn the brush. The employee began to spread gasoline to begin the fire; however, the brush blew up like an explosion and burned the plaintiff’s skin off.

The plaintiff filed a claim against the homeowner, arguing, that the homeowner was negligent for failing to supervise the brush burning, having gasoline on his property, not training the plaintiff as to the proper use of the gasoline, and not training the other employee on how to use or supervise the brush burning. Additionally, the plaintiff claimed that the owner was responsible for the employee under the doctrine of respondeat superior.

Earlier this month, the state’s appellate court issued a written opinion in a Georgia car accident case requiring the court to discuss the fireman’s rule. Ultimately, the court concluded that the defendant’s allegedly negligent actions were both the cause of the incident necessitating the plaintiff’s presence at the scene as well as the cause of the plaintiff’s accident. As a result, the court determined that the fireman’s rule precluded the plaintiff’s recovery.

The Facts of the Case

On the day of the accident, a motorist was traveling on a Georgia highway when he lost control after encountering a patch of grass clippings that had become wet and slick after a rainstorm. The motorist’s vehicle slid off the road, rolled over, and then came to a stop in a roadside ditch. The motorist called 911 for assistance.

The plaintiff received the radio call for assistance and sped to the scene, traveling at speeds of up to 100 miles per hour. The plaintiff unfastened his safety belt so that he could more quickly exit his vehicle upon arrival, but as his vehicle encountered the same patch of wet grass clippings, he lost control. The plaintiff’s patrol car veered off the road and struck a tree, severely injuring the plaintiff.

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Earlier this month, an appellate court issued an opinion in a Georgia car accident case, raising the question of whether the accident victim was entitled to compensation from his own insurance carrier under the underinsured motorist clause of the insurance policy. The court ultimately determined that, although the insurance contract clearly prevented the plaintiff from being compensated given the specific facts of the case, that clause was unenforceable because it was contrary to Georgia’s Underinsured Motorist statute.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was injured in a serious car accident. The plaintiff filed a personal injury case against the other driver. However, the plaintiff soon realized that the other driver did not have adequate insurance to compensate him for the injuries he sustained in the accident. The plaintiff received $25,000 from the other driver’s insurance company.

The plaintiff, who was employed at the time of the accident, also obtained workers’ compensation benefits in the amount of nearly $200,000. However, these benefits provided a weekly benefit that was less than what the plaintiff was normally earning, and they did not include any compensation for pain and suffering or future medical expenses. Thus, the plaintiff was still owed compensation for his lost wages as well as compensation for his pain and suffering and future medical expenses.

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In Georgia, and in most other states, generally, when your are injured on the job your only remedy is for benefits under the applicable workers compensation laws.  In Georgia, this is known as the exclusive remedy doctrine.  The benefit of this doctrine to injured workers is that they do not have to prove that a party was negligent in order to be compensated.  Proving negligence can be very difficult in some cases.  Rather, they simply need to prove that they were working and while working, were injured.  The downside to workers compensation’s exclusive remedy is that a workers’ recoverable damages are limited.  For example, an injured worker is not entitled to receive compensation for pain and suffering or punitive damages.    Continue reading ›

The Georgia Court of Appeals has held that when a temp worker is randomly shot and killed by another temp worker at the employer’s facility, Georgia’s exclusive remedy provision of the workers compensation act applies.  This means that the only legal remedy the family of the deceased employee is entitled to is workers’ compensation death benefits.  Such death benefits are payable to the surviving minor children until they are no longer minors and/or to a dependent surviving spouse.

In this case, the mother of the worker who was killed sued the employer in negligence for failing to perform a reasonable background check on the man who killer her son.  The facts on appeal showed that the assailant applied for work with the staffing company and used a false name, false picture identification and also failed to completely fill out the application for employment.   Continue reading ›

Workers’ compensation can be a tricky field to navigate on your own. If you have been injured on the job, you may find yourself with more questions than answers, or wondering what steps to take next. At McAleer Law, we handle Workers’ Compensation cases in Georgia and would like to provide you with some answers to common Workers’ Compensation questions.
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Georgia, like all states, has a workers’ compensation law. These laws are intended to help employees who are injured on the job get the help they need.

While this sounds great in theory, the process can get complicated without help. The rules need to be both understood and followed for a claim to be successful. When a person suffers a serious injury on the job in Atlanta, it is important for them to consult with an Atlanta workers’ compensation lawyer. The first consultation is free. During this meeting, the injured gets some very helpful advice from our team at McAleer Law while it is decided if the case merits legal representation.
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