“Willful Misconduct Defenses Can Protect When Good Employees Behave Badly"

Daily Report

Jeff Stinson and Dustin Thompson authored an article published by the Daily Report on February 9, 2022 that details defenses under Georgia workers’ compensation law for claims involving injury caused by an employee’s own willful misconduct.

“The foundation of the Georgia Workers’ Compensation Act is to provide benefits that affect a cure, provide relief and return injured workers to suitable employment,” Stinson and Thompson said. “However, certain ‘bad acts’ of an injured employee can undermine this foundation.”

To help employers and insurers counter bad behavior, the Act contains willful misconduct defenses and other potential bars to liability. O.C.G.A. § 34-9-17 provides no compensation shall be allowed for an injury or death due to the employee’s willful misconduct, including intentionally self-inflicted injury or growing out of his or her attempt to injure another or for the willful failure or refusal to use a safety appliance or perform a duty required by statute.

“The act and case law provide several willful conduct defenses, including where employees are intoxicated, fighting, involved in horseplay or deviating from employment,” the authors said. “Each of these defenses is complicated and contain numerous exceptions,” they added before detailing considerations and different scenarios for each defense.

For the full article, Daily Report subscribers can click here.


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