February 16, 2010

Compensability of injuries and deaths caused by violence in the workplace

Compensability of injuries and deaths caused by violence in the workplace
by Lindy Z. Kerr, Esq.

In the aftermath of the recent tragedy in Atlanta committed by former Penske employee Jessie James Warren it is helpful to examine how Georgia treats attacks made in the workplace. In Georgia, an injury or death caused by workplace violence “arises out of and in the course of employment” if the incident is employment-related or even if it is considered a "neutral" risk. The injury or death will generally not be compensable if it is the result of a purely personal attack. For example, in the case of an employee who was shot to death at work by the jealous husband of a former co-worker the Court of Appeals ruled the claim was not a compensable one.

When the injured worker is not the aggressor to an altercation and the incident occurs at work it will generally be considered compensable. Employment-related risks are also found where the nature of the job makes it more likely than not the employee would be a victim of physical violence. For example, in one 1999 case the Court of Appeals found than an assault on a pizza delivery driver was compensable. The Court found his job required that he travel along at all hours in a marked car and come in contact with all sorts of people in an area that was considered "high crime."

If you have questions or comments, please contact your David & Rosetti attorney at 404-446-4488 or by visiting our website at www.davidandrosetti.com.

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