What is Considered a Workers’ Comp Injury?

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The law provides that an “injury by accident arising out of and in the course of employment” shall be considered a workers’ compensation injury. O.C.G.A. § 34-9-1(4). Hence, the Employee must show that she suffered an (i) injury by accident; that (ii) arose out of employment; AND was (iii) in the course of employment. To be successful, the Employee must meet all three prongs.

The term “injury by accident” is very broad. Essentially, the Employee must have suffered an initial physical injury that was not intentionally inflicted.

The term “arising out of employment” has been interpreted to refer to the causal relationship between the work and the resulting injury. Moreover, the term “in the course of employment” refers to time, place, and circumstances under which the accident took place. These terms are not interchangeable. Lee v. Middleton Logging Co., 198 Ga. App. 585 (1991).

Given our global economy, litigation has arose as to the parameters where employment ends and the Employee’s personal life begins. The doctrine of “continuous employment” has been an evolving area of the workers’ compensation landscape. Most recently, the Georgia Supreme Court has ruled on this issue in Ray Bell Construction v. King, S06G0891 (March 26, 2007). Since it was a divided opinion and one definitely worth reading, I will not cover it here and invite you to read it yourself.

A frequent question is whether a psychological injury is covered under the system. The quick answer is yes, provided that it stems from an acceptable physical injury and the treating physicians relate the need for psychological treatment to the physical injury. Abernathy v. City of Albany, 269 Ga. 88 (1998).