Does Georgia Have a Fellow Servant Rule for Employees?
There is a common law doctrine, the fellow servant rule, that limits employer responsibility for workplace injuries in specific instances. Georgia’s fellow servant rule does not extend to Workers’ Compensation claims filed by injured employees.
The fellow servant rule states that employers are not liable for damages to an employee caused by another employee’s negligence in Georgia. Companies with Workers’ Compensation insurance are never liable for injuries in a lawsuit. Instead of suing an employer, employees can only file a Workers’ Compensation claim for benefits. That said, Workers’ Compensation claims can’t be denied simply for the fact that another employee caused a claimant’s damages. To reduce the likelihood of employee negligence causing injury to others, companies in Georgia can implement drug-free workplaces, run background checks, properly train employees, and increase managerial oversight.
To find coverage that keeps your company protected, call the Georgia small business workers’ compensation insurance brokers at NPN Brokers today at (866) 340-9120.
What is the Fellow Servant Rule in Georgia?
While Georgia has a fellow servant rule regarding employer liability for worker injuries in certain cases, it does not apply to the Workers’ Compensation system.
The fellow servant rule is a common law doctrine that is reflected in Georgia statutes. According to O.C.G.A. § 34-7-21, it limits an employer’s liability for an employee’s injuries caused by another employee’s negligence. For example, an injured worker can’t sue their employer for compensation if their injuries were caused by another worker in Georgia.
Typically, the fellow servant rule has little impact on employers in Georgia, as employers are already shielded from civil liability for a worker’s injuries by purchasing Workers’ Compensation insurance. Georgia has a no-fault system for Workers’ Compensation meaning employees can file a claim for benefits, regardless of who is to blame for causing their workplace injuries.
While the fellow servant rule protects companies from litigation in certain circumstances, companies are totally protected from litigation, regardless of the cause of an employee’s injuries, when they get workers’ compensation insurance in Georgia. While an employee will be unable to sue their employer for compensation in such instances, they may be able to file a lawsuit against a fellow worker in Georgia.
Can You Deny a Workers’ Comp Claim Based on the Fellow Servant Rule in Georgia?
Employers can’t deny a Workers’ Compensation claim based on the fellow servant rule in Georgia. That said, there are other legitimate reasons to deny a claim for benefits.
Because Georgia has a no-fault system for Workers’ Compensation, it doesn’t matter if a fellow employee caused a worker’s injuries. Injured workers can typically always file a claim for benefits, regardless of how they sustained their injuries, provided they didn’t injure themselves on purpose.
Employers and insurance companies can deny Workers’ Compensation claims for reasons unrelated to the fellow servant rule, however. For example, if a worker cannot prove that they were injured at work or while performing work-related activities, their claim can be denied. Claims can also be denied for improper reporting, especially if a worker fails to file a claim before the deadline. Workers’ Compensation claims can be denied if injuries are not severe enough to affect an employee’s ability to return to work in Georgia. Finally, among other reasons, Workers’ Compensation claims can be denied if an insurance company believes the claimant engaged in willful misconduct, or intentionally caused injury to themselves.
Reducing Workplace Accidents Caused by Fellow Employees in Georgia
Because injured workers can still file a Workers’ Compensation claim if hurt by a fellow employee, companies in Georgia should incorporate certain practices to prevent such accidents from taking place.
Drug-Free Workplace Programs
Gross negligence or willful misconduct on behalf of one employee can lead to another sustaining a severe injury in Georgia. To prevent such incidents, employers can take certain steps, like becoming part of Georgia’s drug-free workplace program. Accidents due to negligence might be caused by using drugs or alcohol at work. Implementing a drug-free workplace program can lower the risk of such accidents occurring and can lower your Workers’ Compensation premiums. Employers that engage in the drug-free workplace program can see their premiums reduced by 7.5%, in addition to getting affordable coverage from our Georgia Workers’ Compensation insurance brokers. Employers can apply to become part of Georgia’s drug-free workplace program by sending an application to the State Board of Workers’ Compensation.
Another way to lower the risk of workers injuring each other due to negligence is to run background checks on employees. Background checks can uncover previous transgressions, like convictions of violent crimes, that can better inform employers. Companies can ask for recommendations from previous employers in an attempt to identify red flags in prospective employees. You can also learn of previous Workers’ Compensation claims an employee might have filed, which could indicate whether or not an employee has intentionally injured themselves in the past to receive Workers’ Compensation benefits in Georgia.
If you have a company that operates in a high-risk industry, like construction, it is important to properly train employees. This can lower the risk of one employee’s negligent acts hurting another worker in an accident. Rigorous training programs coupled with routine assessments can allow you to reduce accidents caused by employee negligence in Georgia.
In some cases, employee negligence is due to poor oversight in Georgia. To reduce accidents caused by negligence, employers can increase managerial oversight, post informational flyers, provide the necessary safety cautions on certain equipment, and increase employer involvement in day to day operations overall. When employees are aware that they are being assessed or monitored, they may be less likely to act negligently and potentially cause harm to a fellow worker in Georgia.
Get Workers’ Comp Insurance in Georgia Today
Call NPN Brokers today at (866) 340-9120 to get a quote from our Georgia workers’ compensation insurance brokers for construction subcontractors.
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