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Court Explains There Is No Need to Show Fault in Workers’ Compensation Claims

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

Workers’ compensation claimants are not required to show that their employers were at fault in order to succeed in a Georgia workers’ compensation claim. In a recent state appellate decision, the court reversed the decision of a workers’ compensation judge, reiterating that the employee was not required to show that the employer was at fault for the injury.

In that case, the employee was walking down a set of stairs as she was leaving work when she fell and broke her ankle. She was carrying a plant from her desk and was not using the stairs’ handrails. She later testified that her shoe stuck to the tread of the stairs.

The employee filed for workers’ compensation benefits, but her employer argued that the injury did not “arise out of” her employment so the employee was not entitled to benefits. The workers’ compensation judge found that the injury did not arise out of the employee’s employment because she did not show that the stairs were more hazardous than normal stairs or that her work increased her risk of falling on them.

The state’s supreme court disagreed with the workers’ compensation judge, finding that the employee’s injury was compensable. The court explained that the employee was required to show there was a causal connection between the injury and the employment. The court explained that the employee was not required to show that the employer was negligent in any way, and the fact that the stairway complied with safety standards and the employee was not using the handrails was irrelevant. The circumstances surrounding the employee’s fall—that the employee was using the stairs to exit her workplace and fell when she was carrying a plant from her desk—created an increased risk, satisfying the requirements that there be a causal connection between her injury and the conditions of her employment. The court explained that in workers’ compensation cases, the court does not consider whether the employee or the employer was at fault, but considers only whether there was a causal connection between the employee’s injury and the workplace.

Eligibility for Workers’ Compensation Benefits

Generally, to be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits in Georgia, a claimant must be an employee, the employer must carry workers’ compensation benefits, the injury must be work-related, and the claimant must follow the requirements for reporting the injury.

To prove that an injury is work-related, a claimant must prove that the injury arose “out of and in the course of” the claimant’s employment. Georgia courts have made clear that arising out of and arising in the course of are two distinct requirements. In order to show that an injury arose out of employment under Georgia law, a claimant must show that there is a causal connection between the injury and the conditions of the employee’s employment, and that the risk of injury was incidental to the employment.

Contact a Workers’ Compensation Attorney

Workers’ compensation may provide you with medical benefits, supplemental income, and rehabilitation support for your work-related injury. At the law office of J. Franklin Burns, P.C., we help our clients obtain all the benefits they are entitled to under Georgia’s Workers’ Compensation Act. Our workers’ compensation lawyers have combined 50 years of trial experience. Our lawyers are passionate about fighting for the rights of injured workers and standing up to insurance companies throughout the state of Georgia. To set up a consultation, call us at 404-920-4708 or fill out our online form.