The short answer is no, not every type of job-related injury is covered by worker’s compensation in Georgia. While worker’s compensation does cover the overwhelming majority of job-related injuries and certain illnesses, the employee is responsible for his or her own behavior. A worker’s compensation claim might be rejected if the employee behaved irresponsibly.
The Georgia State Board of Worker’s Compensation Employee Handbook makes it clear: “No compensation shall be allowed for an injury or death due to the employee’s willful misconduct.” Willful misconduct may include:
- Self-inflicted injuries
- Injuries caused by alcohol or drug use
- An injury resulting from attempting to harm someone else
- An injury suffered while engaged in a criminal act
- Violation of safety rules or company policy
In the violation category, the worker must have intentionally – not accidentally – broken the safety rules. For example, a worker who decides not to wear required safety goggles during a manufacturing process and who consequentially gets eye damage from exposure to sparks will likely have his or her claim rejected. By contrast, a hurt worker who never got the safety goggles or the training to use them may receive compensation.
If an injury occurs during a scheduled lunch or other break, it does not fall under worker’s compensation. However, if the job does not include regularly scheduled lunch or similar breaks, and an employee is injured during an irregular break, worker’s compensation may apply. There are many contingencies, so consulting a worker’s compensation attorney is essential in such situations.
Purely Psychological Issues
If an employee is unable to work because of depression or another psychological or emotional issue he or she believes is work-related, worker’s compensation will usually not apply. If the stress from work causes physical issues – such as headaches or chest pain – it does fall under worker’s compensation guidelines. If the employee becomes depressed because of a work-related injury, worker’s compensation may cover related treatment.
If you were involved in a motor vehicle accident going to or from work or while on your lunch break, worker’s compensation will not cover you unless driving is part of your job description. There are exceptions – for instance, if you suffered injuries in employer-provided transportation or got into an accident while running a company errand.