According to the Spring 2018 Workers’ Compensation Law Newsletter (p. 7), Georgia courts have recently decided two cases that add clarity to the doctrine of continuous employment and when it can be used to compensate workers’ injury claims.
The doctrine of continuous employment is most often used in cases involving traveling employees. Georgia courts have clarified that these types of injury cases will only be compensable if the employee was traveling for business purposes, the injury occurred during the time he or she was employed, and the injury occurred at a place where he or she was reasonably in the performance of employment.
In March 2017, the Georgia Court of Appeals issued a ruling in a case that involved a man staying in a hotel for work. He was allowed to stay in his hotel during a weekend because it was already paid for by his employer, but he was not on-call and was not required to work on the weekend. The man injured his ankle on a Sunday while buying groceries. The court held that his workers’ compensation claim was not compensable under the continuous employment doctrine because he was staying in the hotel as a mere convenience and was not working at the time.
In June 2017, the Georgia Court of Appeals issued another ruling in a case that involved another man, involving similar facts, where he was involved a motorcycle accident while he traveling to a hotel. He planned to stay in the hotel the night before his out-of-town work began. The court held that this man’s workers’ compensation claim was also not compensable because he had not yet begun his work. He was therefore not engaged in his employment at the time of the accident, and the continuous employment doctrine did not apply.
As these two cases show, use of the doctrine hinges on the timing and place of the accident as well as whether the claimant was actively in the scope of employment.