On Saturday, Jan. 9, 2021, in Oakland, California, a helicopter dropped an enormous air-conditioning unit onto a city street. (The picture and video are worth viewing to see the sheer size of the unit.) There were workers’ all around coordinating the movement and the task looked extremely dangerous.
Luckily, nobody was injured in this case.
However, if a worker had been injured and the accident took place in Georgia, they may have been able to recover workers’ compensation unless they were directly responsible for the willful misconduct in securing the unit to the helicopter.
Workers’ comp is a no-fault system
Georgie’s workers’ compensation system is a “no-fault” liability enterprise. This means that for the most part, it does not matter who is at fault for the accident. So long as the accident takes place within the scope and course of employment, the injured worker falls under the auspices of the workers’ compensation system in Georgia.
This means that even if the accident was the injured workers’ fault, they can still recover benefits in Georgia.
Limitations to Georgia’s no-fault workers’ comp system
Anything this good has to have to have some limitations, right?
Well yes, there are some limitations on these rights.
One such limitation is the intoxication defense. If an individual was intoxicated at the time of the accident and it can be proven that their intoxication caused the accident or played a significant role in the circumstances surrounding the accident, the claim can be denied.
Another limitation is if there was willful misconduct that led to the injury. In many cases, this applies to safety equipment and/or instructions. There is a high standard when it comes to this limitation. For example, just because an individual does not wear a safety back brace doesn’t mean they can be denied workers’ compensation benefits due to willful misconduct.
Willful misconduct must rise to the level of a purposeful act by the employee when it comes to safety.
For example, say a worker is trained that they must wear a certain type of harness when they climb a tree in order to trim branches, but refuses to wear the harness and sustains an injury. In this case, the employer and/or insurance carrier may be justified in refusing to pay out on the claim.
It is always worth consulting an attorney when a claim is denied for willful misconduct of a safety violation.