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Georgia workers' compensation adapts to the changing workplace

Today's workplace in Georgia doesn't look anything like it did 10 or 20 years ago. Some businesses have even installed exercise facilities and encourage recreational activities for their employees to enjoy over their lunch hour. Sales personnel often work out of a home office and travel in their cars. Workers report directly to offsite locations and many technical and administrative positions are handled from the comfort of home offices.

So what do the changes mean for Georgia workers' compensation law? Just what IS considered a workplace injury when some workers never see the inside of a corporate office building?

What does the law say?

The Georgia Board of Workers' Compensation publishes an annual update to the rules employers and employees must follow when reporting and filing a claim for a workplace injury. The 2016 publication says that an injured worker shall be covered by his or her employer's workers' compensation insurance for any injury incurred in the performance of performing work-related tasks.

But what is the workplace?

Getting into a car accident commuting to or from the workplace will not be covered, special circumstances may arise . For example, if your boss instructs you to, "swing by the office supply store to pick up some legal pads for the meeting tomorrow morning" and you are struck by a car in the store's parking lot, you may qualify for workers' compensation benefits, even though you were technically driving on your way to work. (In this example, you may also be able to file a third party lawsuit to seek additional damages from the negligent driver.)

Working from home or other location?

Georgia employers who allow their workers to occasionally or permanently work out of a home office or other remote location face special challenges regarding workers' compensation claims. Workers are often free to establish their own hours and work stations.

If an employee trips and suffers an injury while walking through his home office to get to his computer to begin the workday, will that technically be considered "commuting" to work and therefore not a viable claim? Or can the worker assert that the injury occurred on the approved worksite, in the performance of his job, just as an onsite office worker might if he or she is injured after tripping on the entryway floor mat?

If a worker is out of town and is assaulted while working late one evening at a local coffee shop when a robbery occurs, will the employer be responsible for covering medical expenses and wage benefits through workers' compensation? After all, if the employer approved the work location and hours, technically, the injury should qualify as work-related. If the worker was injured while in furtherance of the employer's interests, then workers' compensation insurance should cover the injury.

These are just a couple of the situations which may arise as the workplace continues to change. Attorneys that practice workers' compensation law should be prepared to address these unique situations.

It pays to talk to an experienced Georgia workers' compensation attorney

If you suffered an injury in the performance of your job in Macon, or anywhere in central Georgia, no matter where or what time of day, don't assume you won't qualify for workers' compensation benefits. But before you file, get straight answers to give yourself the best opportunity for a successful claim. Schedule a consultation with an experienced Georgia workers' compensation lawyer.    

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