The Georgia Supreme Court recently handed down an important ruling regarding an injured employee’s right to sue a co-worker for pain and suffering related to his or her negligent actions, even if the injured individual is also covered by workers’ compensation. If you have been injured in an on-the-job accident in Atlanta, Marietta, or elsewhere in Georgia, consult our workers’ compensation attorneys at Rechtman & Spevak to explore your compensation options. You may be entitled to damages for pain and suffering in addition to workers’ compensation benefits, and our qualified lawyers will work diligently to help you pursue the reimbursement you deserve for your injuries.

Supreme Court Ruling: Smith v. Ellis

In the case of Smith v. Ellis, decided by the GA Supreme Court in September 2012, both Smith and Ellis worked for a home-building company called the Knight Group. In February 2009, Ellis accompanied Smith to a new subdivision where Smith was working, which was made up mostly of empty land, because Ellis wanted to shoot his shotgun into one of the empty fields. At the end of the day, Smith was packing up his tools and Ellis accidentally shot him while trying to clear a jam in the gun. As a result of the accident, which technically occurred at the workplace, Smith filed a GA workers’ compensation claim against the Knight Group, and filed a claim against Ellis for negligence. The Knight Group denied Smith’s claim and he eventually settled in a no-liability stipulation, which means the company denied that he was injured in the course of his employment, but agreed to pay him a lump sum to close the case.

Negligence Claim Filed Against Co-Worker

In the meantime, Smith’s negligence claim against Ellis made its way to the Georgia Supreme Court, where Smith claimed that Ellis’ status as a co-worker wasn’t enough to shield him from personal liability since the negligent act – the shotgun blast – was not an act that arose out of and in the course of employment. The Supreme Court ultimately agreed with Smith, allowing the worker to pursue a claim for damages against his fellow employee. This landmark decision by the Georgia Supreme Court means that workers in GA who suffer injuries because a co-worker acted outside the scope of his employment may have the right to pursue benefits through a workers’ compensation claim, in addition to damages for negligence on the part of the co-worker.

Contact Our Workers’ Comp Lawyers for Help

Damages for pain and suffering can be considerably higher than workers’ compensation benefits in some cases, which is why the GA Supreme Court decision is an important one for injured workers in Georgia to consider. If you have suffered injuries on the job in Georgia because of the negligence of a fellow employee, contact our reputable workers’ compensation attorneys at Rechtman & Spevak for legal help. Our team of skilled workers’ compensation lawyers has extensive experience protecting the legal rights of injured workers in Georgia, and can inform you of your compensation options regarding your workplace injury. With the help of our GA workers’ comp attorneys, you can seek fair and timely reimbursement for your injuries, medical bills and other damages related to your workplace accident.

Jaret A. Spevak
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Atlanta Personal Injury & Workers’ Compensation Attorney With 20+ Years Experience