Georgia law is fairly well settled that an injury you incur while on your way to or from work is not a compensable injury. The policy behind this rules arises from concerns about the lack of control your employer would have over your comings and goings as well as problems that your employer would have investigating an injury not on its premises.
I recently read about a case in North Carolina, however, that might support a re-evaluation of the “no coverage for ingress or egress from work” rule. Let me emphasize that this case is not a Georgia case but the facts reflect changes in technology that might expand the notion of going to and from work. You can learn more about the James A. Hunt v. North Carolina Industrial Commission by clicking on the link.
The North Carolina case arose in 2009 when a middle school principal was shot in the face and hand while driving to work and talking on a cellphone to a school colleague.
The North Carlina Industrial Commission (equivalent to Georgia’s State Board of Workers’ Compensation) granted benefits. The school board appealed but the award was upheld by the North Carolina Court of Appeals. The Appeals Court noted the following in support of its decision:the principal’s contract required him to be “on call” 24 hours per day
- at the time he was injured, he was talking on an employer provided cell phone about the employer’s business
- his employment contract included a travel allowance
- the principal had previously received threats from teachers he had disciplined and from parents of students he had disciplined
This case is a good example of how creative lawyering can help courts adapt statutes to current technology. I suspect that when the North Carolina statute was written barring compensation for an employee’s coming and going, cell phones were not widely available. How many of us “work” in the car making and receiving phone calls and (hopefully as passengers) reading texts.
At the very least, now there is an argument that arriving at work does not necessarily mean setting foot in your company’s work site.
Attorney Jodi Ginsberg represents employees who are injured on the job and who need medical care and missed wage benefits available under Georgia's workers' compensation laws.
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