Ga. Supreme Court Cites ‘Continuous Employment’ in Workers Comp Award

April 2, 2007

In a narrow margin to approve workers compensation benefits for the family of deceased Florida resident Howard King, the Georgia Supreme Court cited a doctrine of “continuous employment” in its 4-3 decision, voiding two previous rulings.

The State Board of Workers’ Compensation affirmed the court’s decision in case number S06G0891, Ray Bell Construction Co. et al v. King.

King died from injuries sustained in an auto accident that occurred on Aug. 11, 2002, while he was driving a truck provided by his employer. He lived in a Fayetteville, Ga. apartment while employed there – also provided by Bell Construction Co. as a condition of employment while working as a superintendent of a construction project in Jackson, Ga.

When King’s former wife sought dependency benefits for King’s now 11-year old son, the employer and its insurer refuted the claim saying that King’s death did not occur in the course of his employment.

Off duty at the time of the accident, King was using the company vehicle to move furniture from Tennessee to a storage facility in Georgia, according to the ruling.

However, the appellate division of the State Workers’ Compensation Board determined King suffered a compensable injury because “at the time the injury was sustained, he was an employee in continuous employment driving an employer-provided vehicle who had concluded a personal mission and had resumed the employer’s business because he was driving to either his job site or to his employer-provided housing.”

Under Georgia’s doctrine of continuous employment there is broader workers’ compensation coverage afforded an employee who is required by his employer to live near a company work site.

The ruling stated that the employee, in this case, King, is, “in effect, in continuous employment, day and night, and activities performed in a reasonable and prudent manner for the health and comfort of the employee, including recreational activities, arise out of and are in the course of the employment.”

It was undisputed that King engaged in a personal mission unrelated to his employment when he delivered family furniture to his storage shed. However, the appellate division of the State Board of Workers’ Compensation found that King’s deviation from his employment had ended and he had resumed his employer’s business by the time he sustained the injury.

Source: Supreme Court of Georgia

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