Recent Case Decision: Defining Workers Compensation Medical Benefits

By: Mariel Smith, Esq.

On June 20, 2017, in the case of Kendrick v. SRA Track, Inc. the Court of Appeals of Georgia held that in a case where the employee was injured in a motorcycle accident, the employer was not time-barred under OCGA. § 34-9-221(h) from controverting his claim on the ground that the accident did not arise out of or in the course of employment because the prescription card given to the employee by the employer’s insurer for pain medications was not an income benefit.

The Court reasoned that under the applicable code “where compensation is being paid without an award, the right to compensation shall not be controverted except upon the grounds of change in condition or newly discovered evidence unless notice to controvert is filed within 60 days of the due date of first payment of compensation.” The court held the prescription card used to pay for medications was not compensation.

The Court further held that the board of workers compensation did not err in denying the employee’s claim for benefits as the injuries did not arise out of or in the course of employment and the employee was not engaged in his employment at the time of the accident. The court explained that the continuous employment doctrine did not apply as the employee was not performing work duties or being paid by the employer when he traveled to a motel near a job site. To be compensable under the Workers’ Compensation Act, an employee’s accidental injury must arise both out of and in the course of his or her employment. OCGA. § 34-9-1(4). The term “arising out of” refers to some causal connection between the conditions under which the employee worked and the injury. The words “in the course of” relate to the time, place and circumstances of the accident. An injury arises in the course of certain employment if the employee is engaged in that employment at the time the injury occurs. In general, collisions occurring while employees are traveling to and from work do not arise out of and in the course of employment, unless transportation is furnished or reimbursed by the employer.