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Employee Can’t Sue Employer for Unsafe Repair Due To Workers’ Compensation Act, Court Finds

Georgia employees often are limited to pursuing compensation from an employee through the Georgia workers’ compensation act. However, in some cases, there are exceptions. In a recent workers’ compensation case, a plaintiff contended that his employer was liable for his injuries because he made an unsafe repair to equipment he used, causing his injuries.

ExcavatorIn that case, the plaintiff claimed that he was injured while he was at work. He was operating an excavator while trying to pull a catch basin out of the ground. The excavator was “running at full throttle,” slipped off the catch basin, and hit the plaintiff.

The plaintiff brought a claim against his employer, alleging that he was injured due to the defendants’ reckless conduct. The plaintiff claimed that the defendant was reckless in not having the excavator properly repaired, even though the employer knew that people operating the excavator would likely sustain serious bodily injuries. He claimed that the defendants made a temporary repair to the excavator that made it run at full throttle, making a jerking action.

The defendants argued that the claim was barred by the exclusivity provision of the state’s workers’ compensation act. The exclusivity provision states that employees generally do not have the right to bring an injury claim against their employer if the injury was covered by the workers’ compensation act. However, the court explained that employees can bring claims against their employers if the employer has committed an intentional tort or if the employer engaged in willful or serious misconduct.

The court explained that under the facts of that case, the evidence did not show that the defendants subjectively believed that an injury was substantially certain to occur because of the temporary repair. The defendant employer stated that he did not intend to harm the plaintiff and did not believe the excavator was dangerous, having used the excavator one week before the incident and again after the incident. Although the plaintiff claimed that the owner agreed that the excavator was dangerous because of the temporary fix, the court said this evidence was insufficient because the plaintiff did not show the defendants believed there was a substantial certainty that it would injure anyone.

The Exclusivity Provision in Georgia’s Workers’ Compensation Act

The Georgia Workers’ Compensation Act states that the rights and remedies under the Act are given in place of all other rights and remedies to employees based on injury, loss of service, or death. However, there are exceptions to the exclusivity provision, including if the employer commits a purely personal and intentional tort against the employee. Whether a claim is excluded under the workers’ compensation act depends on the specific facts of the case.

Contact a Georgia Workers’ Compensation Attorney

At the law office of J. Franklin Burns, P.C., we handle all kinds of Georgia workers’ compensation claims. We offer quality legal representation and responsive client service, and our clients can expect excellent service communication, both in English and in Spanish. We are friendly, approachable attorneys who take the time to talk to you about your concerns. For knowledgeable representation by experienced injury attorneys, you can rely on the law office of J. Franklin Burns, P.C. To set up a free consultation about your injury claim, call us today at 404-303-7770.

More Blog Entries:

Employee Allowed to Sue Employer for Workers’ Compensation Fraud, January 17, 2018, Atlanta Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Blog

Court Finds Employee’s Surgery Caused by Preexisting Condition and Not Entitled to Compensation, January 4, 2018, Atlanta Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Blog