During the first winter snow storm of 2011, the City of Atlanta and the surrounding counties were paralyzed by the resulting ice. While there were generally warnings to stay off the roads, many workers were required to return to work. According to the local news, many workers suffered “slip and fall” injuries due to the slick or ice-covered walkways. Other workers’ were involved in car or motor vehicle accidents as they were delivering goods or arriving to or leaving from work. It was reported that common injuries included broken wrists, fractured elbows, knee and ankle pain, rotator cuff shoulder tears, and broken legs or arms. In more severe cases, some workers had head trauma and injuries to their spines.
If an employee suffers one of these accidents, he or she may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits regardless of who was at fault. In a workers’ compensation claim, the primary question is whether the accident or injury arose out of and in the course of the worker’s employment. In other words, was the accident or injury in the scope of your job? If so, the employer is generally eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.
As illustrated earlier, if a restaurant hostess, cook, or waitress (who was on the clock) slipped on an icy patch near or at the restaurant, the accident would likely be covered under workers’ compensation. It does not matter if the worker was “at fault” or if he or she was not wearing the proper shoes at the time. There are exceptions to this general rule. For example, if the employee was intoxicated or engaged in “horseplay”, the claim would likely be denied.
Additionally, if the worker just parked her car and she slipped on the ice in the parking lot, that accident would likely be covered under workers’ compensation. The same is true if the employee is walking to her car after her shift and slipped in the employer’s parking lot. In these situations, the closer the injury occurred while still “on the clock” the more likely the claim will be accepted under workers’ compensation.
By the same token, if the employee was involved in a car or motor vehicle accident while delivering goods or services, the accident may be covered under workers’ compensation. Again, this is regardless of whether the employee was at fault. The exceptions to this rule are when the “accident” was intentionally or recklessly caused by the employee, or if the employee was intoxicated and the intoxication caused the accident. For example, consider a pizza delivery person in route to a delivery. He slides on an icy patch of the road and hits a telephone pole, or he is hit by another driver. The pizza delivery person injures his back as result of the accident. This injury would likely be covered under workers’ compensation, and he would be entitled to medical and income benefits. Also, if he was not at fault, he may also have a claim against the other driver in addition to workers’ compensation.
If you have suffered a work injury during the ice storm in Georgia and would like a free consultation as to your workers’ compensation rights, please contact Ramos & Law at 404-355-3431 or email us.