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Georgia Court Upholds Workers’ Compensation Benefits in Wrongful Death Case

The details of a personal injury case, including the intricate facts and circumstances surrounding and leading to therailroad-3-655392-m victim’s injuries, can have a profound impact on the extent of any legal recovery. This includes the people or entities involved, the location of the accident or incident, whether a duty of care was owed to the victim, and the extent of the injuries sustained. Additionally, in order to assess one’s claim for damages, it is critically important that the plaintiff have a full understanding of the local state laws affecting the case. In order to protect your rights to a recovery in a car accident or other injury case, you are encouraged to contact an experienced injury attorney from the local Atlanta area as soon as possible.

Reaching out to a seasoned lawyer is one of the best ways to ensure that you have addressed every possible avenue of relief, such as workers’ compensation benefits, among other items. In a recent wrongful death case, Bonner-Hill v. Southland Waste Systems, Inc. (Ga. Ct. of App. 2014), stemming from a car accident, the plaintiff (the wife of the victim) brought a claim for workers’ compensation benefits on behalf of herself and her three children. According to the record below, the victim worked for Southland Waste Systems of Georgia, Inc. The only entrance road to the facility is intersected by railroad tracks.

While driving to work on March 4, 2010, the victim turned onto the entrance roadway of the property and was struck by a train as he crossed over the railroad tracks. As a result of the collision, the victim sustained injuries and died. The administrative law judge determined that the plaintiff was entitled to workers’ compensation benefits, finding that the entrance road (which crossed over the railroad tracks) was the only way to access his workplace. The Workers’ Compensation Board reversed the decision, pointing out that the victim had not arrived at work before the accident, which is required under the “ingress/egress” rule. That decision was affirmed by the superior court.

The court of appeals reversed the decision, reviewing Georgia’s Workers’ Compensation Act, which provides generally that an accidental injury that occurs while an employee is traveling to or from work does not “arise out of the course of employment” and is not compensable under the Act. The court looked to the ingress/egress exception to the rule, which allows for a recovery if the employee is on the employer’s premises while in the act of going to or coming from work. This rule sets forth certain requirements with respect to the employer’s ownership and control of the property on which the accident occurred.

Here, the court applied these legal principles to the facts of the case and concluded that the access road was part of the company’s leased property. Therefore, the court held that the victim had arrived at his employment at the time of the accident, triggering the “ingress/egress rule” and enabling the plaintiff to recover workers’ compensation benefits. This case nicely illustrates the importance of being fully apprised of the finer legal principles affecting personal injury and wrongful death cases. In order to be sure that you are adequately represented when bringing a car accident claim, it is important that you contact an experienced injury attorney.

Stephen M. Ozcomert is an injury attorney with over 20 years of experience handling car accident cases, representing individuals who have been injured as a result of negligent driving in Atlanta and throughout Georgia. Call us today at (404)-370-1000 to schedule a free initial consultation, or you can reach us through our website.

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