New Workers' Compensation Opinion

On October 19, 2010, the Georgia Court of Appeals has issued a new case opinion regarding workers' compensation.

In the case of Hughston Orthopedic Hospital v. Wilson Hospital et al., Case No. A10A1098 (decided October 19, 2010) the Court upheld the opinion of the Administrative Law Judge who simply did not believe the opinion of an injured employee who was a clinical technician for Hughston Orthopedic Hospital and claimed that she became ill due to the fumes from wallpaper glue and primer.

The Administrative Law Judge was the one who had observed Ms. Wilson's demeanor and found it to be bizarre with sporadic patterns that seemed to be feigned. In conclusion, the Judge gave the opinion that Ms. Wilson had failed to prove by a preponderance of evidence that her symptoms were related to the chemical exposure at work.

Naturally and legally, the matter was appealed to the Superior Court and then onto the Court of Appeals who wrote the decision reviewed here.

The Court repeatedly recited that for an accident to be compensable under workers' compensation, it must arise out of and in the course of employment. It explained that the injury arising out of one's employment whether it is a cause or connection between the employment and the injury that the claimant carries the burden of establishing the causation. And it is routinely the law that factual questions concerning causation are properly left to the State Board of Workers" Compensation to determine.

It has always been the province of the State Board to determine the weight and credit of the evidence given and the testimony of witnesses. The Administrative Law Judge can accept the opinions of medical experts as advisory only and those opinions may be accepted or rejected by the State Board.

Basically, if there is some evidence, which is commonly known as the Any Evidence Rule, the decision by the Administrative Law Judge and the Full Board will be, and should be, upheld by the Court of Appeals.

This is the basic law under George Workers' Compensation. The Administrative Law Judge and the Full Board are the ones who evaluate the case from an evidenciary point of view. The Appellate Courts including the Superior Court, Court of Appeals and Supreme Court cannot weigh the testimony of witnesses

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