Georgia Workers’ Compensation Attorneys Examine The Averett Plumbing Co. Et al. v. Castillo Case
The Averett Plumbing Co. Et al. v. Castillo Case
Georgia Workers’ Compensation Attorneys Discusses This Important Georgia Court of Appeals Decision
The Georgia Court of Appeals handed down a decision in the case of The Averett Plumbing Co. Et al. v. Castillo. It is an important decision because the court addresses issues relating to workers who are living away from their primary residences for work purposes. In the decision, the Court discusses when a worker qualifies for workers’ compensation insurance while living away from home because of work. This is an important issue for many of Georgia’s workers who are called away from home for the benefit of their employer.
The factual scenario of the case is fairly simple despite the import of the case. The worker was an hourly employee for the plumbing company based in Augusta. The employee’s regularly scheduled work hours were from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Additionally, the employee worked overtime on occasion but only after his typical work shift. The plumbing company paid the employee for the hours that he was on the clock with one exception.
The plumbing company provided the employee with a hotel room during the work week because the employee did not have a residence in or near Augusta. The plumbing company rented the hotel room on a weekly basis and allowed the employee to use the hotel room over the weekend. The employee was experiencing financial difficulties and had car trouble which made it difficult for him to commute to his home elsewhere. As a result, the company allowed him to use the hotel room.
On a Sunday in March of 2014, the employee suffered an injury. He was shopping for groceries and fell, the result of which caused a break in his ankle. The employee was not working at the time he fell, nor was he on call at the time. Subsequently, the employee applied for workers’ compensation benefits.
The administrative law judge who heard the employee’s case granted the request for benefits. The plumbing company appealed to the Workers’ Compensation Board, who overturned the previous ruling. However, a superior court judge reinstated the employee’s award, and the plumbing company appealed to the Georgia Court of Appeals, which overturned the superior court ruling and held that the employee was not entitled to receive workers’ compensation benefits.
The Court of Appeals discussed the significance of workers’ compensation benefits, noting that workers’ compensation benefits are designed to help employees who were injured while toiling for the benefit of their employer. For an employee to qualify for benefits, the injury must have happened in the course of employment and arising out of the employment.
An exception to that general rule in Georgia is called the “continuous employment doctrine.” Also known as the “traveling employee doctrine," it extends benefits to employees who live in a particular location to be available for work as required by the job. The employee is essentially working at all times in such an instance. As a result, workers’ compensation benefits will extend to the employee for injuries suffered by the traveling employee even if the person is not working. The traveling employee can receive benefits as long as the activities are related to the “health and comfort” of the employee.
In Averett Plumbing, the Court held that the employee was at Augusta when he was injured as a matter of convenience and not out of necessity to accommodate his employer.
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