Jacksonville, FL asked in Workers' Compensation and Personal Injury for Georgia

Q: Is everything barred under workers compensation?

I was working as an auto mechanic for the city. Mechanic A, approached me stating.that another mechanic, Mechanic B, needed me to come to the training field so he can show me how to operate a backhoe. I get in the John Deere gator with Mechanic A, he’s the driver--we head to the training field--about a 2 minute drive on the gator. Enroute to the field Mechanic A swerves and runs head first into a parked mack truck which leaves me with a broken right tibia and fibula. The accident took place on the city's private road which the city owns. I've been out of work since (to my knowledge I'm still employed) and now receiving workers comp finally (I have a lawyer for that). After surgery, I found out that Mechanic A was fired because his BAC level was over the limit. I want to know what I can do because my workers comp lawyer says it's under workers comp which is a no-fault system and there's no torts I can make towards the city or Mechanic A. No, Dram Shop Law or respondeat superior?

1 Lawyer Answer
Tristan Blain Morrison
Tristan Blain Morrison
  • Workers' Compensation Lawyer
  • Alpharetta, GA
  • Licensed in Georgia

A: Based on the facts provided, your workers' compensation lawyer is (probably) correct, but we don't have all the facts, so it's hard to tell. If the driver of your vehicle worked for the same company (or governmental agency) as you, then the exclusive remedy rule would likely bar personal injury claims against your employer and co-worker. Dram shop claims are possible (albeit sometimes hard to prove), because they are not brought against the drunk driver - they are brought against the business that sold or otherwise "furnished" the alcohol. Also, if the co-worker technically worked for a different company or governmental agency, then different rules would apply, and a personal injury suit would be possible (again probably, not always). You run into a lot of issues with workers' compensation exclusivity, ante-litem notices, and sovereign (governmental) immunity which all complicate your situation. You also have to think about whether you yourself had long term disability or AD&D insurance coverage (either which you bought yourself or which your employer paid premiums on for you). If your damages are truly catastrophic, it might also be financially feasible to consider products liability, but that's always a long shot. So you have a complex situation, and a lawyer focused solely on work comp could (possibly) have missed something important. Consider consulting with a personal injury attorney, or a firm like ours that handles both. Good luck!

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