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Presley v. Dalton Logistics: Extraterritorial Workplace Injury Issues

In this global economy, it is not uncommon for workers to contract with businesses in one state and then conduct work in another.
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Almost all work-related injuries in Georgia are going to fall under the Georgia Workers’ Compensation Act. However, when a worker based in Georgia or working for a Georgia-based firm is injured in another state, that can complicate matters.

It’s known as an “extraterritorial workplace injury,” and the question of whether or not Georgia law will apply, as opposed to the workers’ compensation laws of the state where injury occurred, will depend on several factors. The issue can be an important one, as states can vary with regard to interpretations of key definitions like “work-related” and “independent contractor,” and may vary with regard to statutory limitations.

Our Atlanta work injury attorneys are experienced in handling extraterritorial workplace injury claims. We will carefully weigh the benefits of each option to strategically determine the best course of action for your situation.

The recent case of In re: Presley v. Dalton Logicstics provides one example of a case where the central question was one of subject matter jurisdiction due to a work injury being out-of-state.

In Presley, an oil drilling worker living in Alabama contracted with a company based in Texas to do work in North Dakota. After signing a work contract, the worker was flown back and forth via commercial airlines to various locations in North Dakota to job sites to perform drilling work. He would occasionally complete administration work in Alabama, but the actual work was primarily conducted in North Dakota.

On one job in North Dakota, the worker suffered a back injury. After he filed a complaint for workers’ compensation in Alabama, employer filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing Alabama had no subject matter jurisdiction because the injury occurred out-of-state. Trial court agreed and denied summary judgment. Employer appealed that ruling to the Alabama Court of Appeals, which reversed.

The court noted that even when a worker injury happens outside the state, it doesn’t necessarily disqualify the worker from receiving benefits under state law. Briefly stated, if a worker would have been entitled to benefits under Alabama law, so long as:

  • The employee’s work was principally localized in the state
  • The employee entered an employment contract in the state (subject to certain conditions)

In this case, the worker’s claim did not meet those criteria, and thus summary judgment for employer was granted. Employee could still potentially seek redress under North Dakota workers’ compensation law.

Georgia workers’ compensation law has similar specifications for out-of-state work-related injuries. The statute indicates a worker who would otherwise be entitled to compensation had the injury occurred here are entitled to collect under the Georgia Worker’s Compensation Act if:

  • Contract of employment was made in Georgia
  • The employer’s place of business or residence of employee is in the state (unless the employment contract was expressly for out-of-state service)

The law further provides direction to out-of-state construction companies operating in Georgia, finding that so long as the out-of-state workers’ compensation insurance adheres to Georgia minimum standards and the other state recognizes extraterratorial provisions to allow workers injured in Georgia to collect under that policy, the company can continue to keep its current policy.

For information on Atlanta work injury compensation, contact J. Franklin Burns, P.C., at 1-404-303-7770.

Additional Resources:
In re: Presley v. Dalton Logicstics, Nov. 7, 2014, Alabama Court of Civil Appeals
More Blog Entries:
Barzey v. City of Cuthbert – Non-Dependent Parent Precluded From Workers’ Comp Death Benefits, Oct. 20, 2014, Atlanta Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Blog