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The Importance of Establishing the Employee/Employer Relationship in Georgia Workers’ Compensation Cases

When someone is injured in a Georgia workplace accident, they are generally entitled to benefits through the Georgia workers’ compensation program. In essence, the workers’ compensation program is a no-fault program by which injured employees are able to quickly obtain benefits while they are injured and unable to work. The amount and duration of benefits varies, depending on the type of work and the severity of the injuries sustained.

Jack HammerHowever, in order for someone to be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits, they must be considered an “employee.” This requirement is the focus of litigation in many workers’ compensation cases, especially in situations in which the parties’ relationship is not well-defined or reduced to a contract.

With the recent increase in companies hiring independent contractors, courts have caught on that some employers are masking their employees as contractors to avoid providing benefits. Thus, proving that a worker is a “contractor” requires more than merely putting that label on them.

A recent case illustrates the type of analysis courts undertake when determining if a worker should be considered an “employee” and thus eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.

The Facts of the Case

The claimant was injured while using a hydraulic jack to level the ground for a neighbor’s home. The neighbor operated a massage parlor and had often asked the claimant for his help with general construction matters. The claimant had worked for the neighbor a number of times over the previous 11 years since the two had met, but he had never filled out any paperwork or filled out an employment contract.

After the job was complete, the claimant obtained medical care for his injuries. He then filed a workers’ compensation claim, citing the neighbor’s massage parlor as his employer. Initially, the court held that the claimant was an employee based on the relationship between the parties. The neighbor appealed.

On appeal, the court reversed the lower court’s judgment, finding that the claimant was not an employee of his neighbor. The court noted that the burden to prove an employment relationship was on the claimant, and it found that he was unable to do so. The court was persuaded by the fact that the work performed by the claimant for the neighbor had nothing to do with the massage business but was instead focused on the improvement of real estate.

Have You Been Injured on the Job?

If you have recently been injured in a Georgia workplace accident, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. The dedicated Georgia workers’ compensation attorneys at the law offices of J. Franklin Burns, P.C. represent injured workers in all types of workers’ compensation cases. We have decades of experience handling Georgia workers’ compensation cases, and we know what it takes to succeed on our clients’ behalf. To learn more, call 404-303-7770 to schedule a free consultation with a dedicated Georgia workers’ compensation attorney.

More Blog Entries:

Workplace Injuries Caused by the Negligence of Coworkers in Georgia, May 7, 2018, Atlanta Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Blog

Injured Georgia Worker Required to Disclose Side Business While on Medical Leave, May 23, 2018, Atlanta Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Blog