In 2018, there were 77,500 nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses reported within Georgia’s private work industry, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Of those injuries, one of the most common workplace accidents that occur across the U.S. is truck accidents, which is exactly what happened to Heather Estes and her husband as they were transporting a load of carpet from Georgia to California.
While Mrs. Estes slept in the sleeping compartment of the truck, her husband was driving the truck when it rolled over, causing his wife to be injured. She filed a personal injury claim against G&W Carriers LLC., the company that hired them, but was denied compensation in both the lower and appellate courts because she was considered an employee, not an independent contractor.
If the district court denies your claim, there are other steps you can take
Also known as the appeals court, the appellate courts are responsible for reviewing cases that have already been heard by trial-level courts. After review, the appellate courts can either affirm or reverse the lower court’s verdict to deny their personal injury claim if the plaintiff decides to pursue their case further.
A Georgia attorney with experience in the appellate courts can help if you or a loved one are suffering from an injury and wish to file a personal injury or workers’ compensation claim.
In the case of HEATHER ESTES v. G&W CARRIERS, LLC ET AL., Estes argued that as an independent contractor, she had the right to sue the company for her injuries. But the appellate courts found her and her husband to be employees; therefore, they could not sue because of exclusive remedy provision.
What does exclusive remedy mean?
Car accidents on the job are one of the most common examples of where exclusive remedy is often applied. When an employee is hired by a Georgia employer, they make an unspoken bargain to not sue their employer if they are injured in the workplace. The tradeoff is that the expenses incurred as a result of a work-related injury or accident, such as lost wages, time off and medical expenses, are all covered under workers’ compensation. This protects the employer from any personal injury claims filed against them, and helps the employee quickly receive financial help without having to prove fault.
Two exceptions to the exclusive remedy rule are independent contractors and suing a third party. For example, if Mrs. Estes was injured because another vehicle hit the truck that was not owned by her, her husband or G&W Carriers, then she would have the right to seek compensation from that third party.
Another example would be if a third party was responsible for the maintenance of the vehicle. If the truck had been taken to a mechanic before Estes and her husband began their route to California and the recently replaced brakes had malfunctioned, causing the truck to roll over, then they could possibly file a claim against the mechanic.
Even though Gerber & Holder attorneys were not involved in Heather Estes’s case, our combined experience and dedication has served workers throughout the state for over 30 years in similar circumstances. We encourage you to contact our experienced attorneys to find out if exclusive remedy applies to your case.