Workers' Comp Award Upheld on Grounds of 'Continuous Employment'

March 29, 2007 ( - The Georgia Supreme Court has upheld a ruling that gives workers' compensation benefits to the dependent son of a man killed in a car crash in a company vehicle in the town where his employer put him up while he was overseeing a construction job.

In a 4-3 decision, the high court upheld lower court decisions and the state’s Workers’ Compensation Board, which ruled that the 11-year-old son of Howard King was entitled to workers’ compensation benefits on the grounds of Georgia’s doctrine of “continuous employment.”  Howard King was a Florida resident and employee of Ray Bell Construction before his death in 2002.

Ray Bell and its insurer argued that King was not acting in the course of his employment when the accident occurred but that he was on sick leave at the time and had been delivering family furniture to a storage shed in Alamo, Georgia.

However, the court said, Georgia’s doctrine of  “continuous employment” gives broader workers’ compensation coverage for those “required by [his] employment to lodge and work within an area geographically limited by the necessity of being available for work on the employer’s job site.”

This means that for the purposes of the state’s Workers’ Compensation Act, King was in continuous employment while he was working in Fayetteville, Georgia, according to the decision.

The court said that King’s medical leave status does not affect coverage as a traveling employee in continuous employment and that King had been injured on his way to the job site with King’s return to the general proximity of the Fayetteville-Jackson area in which he was in continuous employment.

Specifically, the court said, his continuous employment coverage picked up again whether he was resuming his trip to the employer’s job site or was returning to his employer-provided housing.

The full opinion is here.