GEORGIA COURT REAFFIRMS TWO PART TEST FOR CAUSATION

Recently the matter of St. Joseph’s Hospital , et al., v. Ward, came before the Georgia Court of Appeals. Ward, a nurse, was at work at the hospital when she stood and turned to get a glass of water for a patient, at which point her knee “twisted” and gave out. An Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) found the injury compensable. She attempted to return to work but was unable to complete her duties. Ward then attempted light duty work before she went out for right knee replacement surgery.

St. Joseph’s appealed the decision of the ALJ to the State Board Appellate Division, whereupon the decision was reversed. The Board concluded that Ward was not exposed to any risk unique to her employment by standing and turning. She would have been “equally exposed” to the risk whether or not she had been at work and therefore the injury was deemed not compensable because there was no casual connection between her injury and her employment.

Ward appealed this decision to the Superior Court which reversed the State Board’s decision. St. Joseph brought their appeal to Georgia Court of Appeals, in which the court sided with St’ Joseph’s. For an on-the-job injury to be compensable the injury must not only occur during work ours, it must also “arise out of” and be in the course of the employee’s work duties. Ward has applied for certiorari to the Supreme Court of Georgia but it has not yet been granted at this time.

My Two Cents: The Georgia Court correctly points out that causation is a two part test. In Alabama, the two part test is being swallowed up by the “but for” test which basically says if you are at work when you are hurt then it is a compensable injury (see Lana Brown v. Korner Store reported in this Blawg on 4/20/09). Hopefully, the Alabama Appellate Courts will follow the lead of the Georgia Court of Appeals and reaffirm the two part test as is provided for in the Alabama Code.