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Injured Georgia Worker Required to Disclose Side Business While on Medical Leave

On Behalf of | May 23, 2018 | Workers' Compensation Case Law |

When Georgia workers are injured, they are generally entitled to compensation during the time they are unable to work under the Georgia Workers’ Compensation program. However, these days, many people work more than one job, raising the question of whether those earnings may limit a worker’s compensation. In one recent case, a Georgia appeals court considered this question in the context of a Federal Employers’ Liability Act claim.

In that case, the employee injured his back at work. After the injury, the employee filed a claim against his employer under the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA), seeking compensation for his injuries. He claimed to have suffered mental and physical pain and suffering, lost wages, and loss of earning capacity.

Before and after the accident, the employee had a side business repairing cars, and he earned money from that business while he was on leave for his injury. The employer tried to introduce this evidence at trial, but the trial court decided the evidence was irrelevant to his claim. The jury found in the employee’s favor and awarded him over $500,000 in damages. The employer appealed the verdict, arguing the court should not have excluded the evidence about the employee’s side business.


The appellate court agreed with the employer and decided the employee’s earnings from his side business were relevant to his claim for lost wages. Although the employee had done this type of work as a side job before his injury, his earnings from his side business increased while he was on leave. Therefore, this evidence was relevant to the amount of damages suffered as a result of his injury.

The court also decided his earnings were relevant to his claims of loss of earning capacity and of pain and suffering. The court explained that the employee’s ability to work and earn money during that time was relevant in considering whether he lost earnings and whether he experienced anxiety or distress during that time. Therefore, the court reversed the trial court’s decision and ordered a new trial.

The Federal Employers’ Liability Act

The Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA) is a law that allows railroad employees injured on the job to recover compensation in place of workers’ compensation benefits. A plaintiff has to show that the employer was at least partly negligent in causing the employee’s injury. FELA allows plaintiffs to recover general damages for pain and suffering and special damages for past and future lost wages and medical expenses. FELA claims can brought either in federal court or in state court.

Have You Been Injured?

If you have been injured in a Georgia workplace accident, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits or other compensation. At the Georgia law office of J. Franklin Burns, P.C., our attorneys have decades of experience handling workers’ compensation claims, allowing us to help you pursue the compensation you deserve. Our experienced Atlanta workers’ compensation attorneys can skillfully lead you through the process of seeking benefits. We have a track record of positive case outcomes resulting in millions of dollars in compensation for our clients. To learn more about how we can help, call us for a free consultation at 404-920-4708 .