Fighting Against Blame & Causation In Workers’ Compensation Claims
Workers’ compensation in Georgia, as in other states, has been set up to provide some security for workers while removing having to go through the typical rigors of the courts. In exchange, both the injured workers and their employers face limitations, as it is a trade-off. For example, it is often the exclusive remedy when it comes to injuries incurred during employment.
The employee initially carries the burden of proof when it comes to filing their claim, whereby they have to prove that their injury occurred in the course of employment. Claims can be denied for a variety of reasons, such as under the accusation that an injury was not incurred in the course of employment, or due to illegal behavior on behalf of the employee.
This most frequently occurs when, for example, there was a claim that the employee was not following safety rules, as well as in conjunction with claims that an employee may have purposely injured themselves in order to collect workers’ comp.
Georgia courts define willful misconduct as conscious or intentional violations of rules or laws (as opposed to unconscious or involuntary violations). Some obvious examples might be intoxication, in which case blood alcohol tests are done.
Georgia law dictates that testing must be performed within three hours of the time of the accident and intoxication is equivalent to .08 g of alcohol or more in the employee’s blood. Being under the influence of drugs is defined as having any amount of marijuana or controlled substances within the bloodstream within eight hours of the accident.
Unfortunately, if an employee unjustifiably refuses to submit to a test, there is a rebuttable presumption that the accident was caused by alcohol or drugs. The burden is then on the employee to argue and prove that this was not the case or that this was not the actual cause of the accident/injury, or to challenge the test results.
Where injuries occur in the course of an employee fight, workers’ compensation will be denied if the employee who has filed a claim is the aggressor or when the fight arose out of personal reasons (as opposed to a connection to work/employment). Clearly, this can be difficult in terms of proof and causation, again warranting the involvement of workers’ comp attorneys to ensure that justice is done.
Outside the Scope of Employment
Where things can get tricky, and attorneys may also become involved, is when there is a dispute over whether or not the employee was engaged in the scope of their job responsibilities when they were injured. Georgia courts have found that an injury does not arise within the course of employment if the continuity of employment has been broken for a personal mission and the individual is injured before they get back to work.
Macon, Georgia Workers’ Compensation Attorneys
If you or a loved one has any questions about workers’ compensation in Georgia, contact our Macon workers’ compensation attorneys at the Law Offices of Buzzell, Welsh & Hill to find out how we can help.