Trial Notebook: Burden of Proof (Workers Compensation)

Where a claimant injures himself and is authorized to return to light or moderate work by his doctor, but in fact, returns to his normal work duties, the burden is upon the employer to provide suitable employment.

The mere refusal of an employee to continue in the employment of the employer after having received an injury does not bar him from compensation. The refused employment must be suitable to the employee's capacity. The focus is whether the employee is able to perform the available work. If the employee is unable to perform the available work then he would be entitled to benefits based on an economic change of condition. See Poulnot v. Dundee Mills Corp. 173 Ga. App. 799, 328 S.E.2d 228 (1985).

Claimant returns to work and is later terminated (laid off). Burden is on him to prove that he cannot locate other suitable employment elsewhere. If employer unilaterally suspends benefits, employer has burden of proving through justification of suspension. See J&M Transportation Co. v. Crowe, 173 Ga. App. 13, 325 S.E.2d 412 (1984).

Burden of Proof (Employee)

The burden of proof rests with the employee to establish by preponderance of competent and credible evidence a compensable claim. Holt Service Company Co. v. Modlin, 163 Ga. App. 283, 293 S.E.2d 741 (1982). The burden of proof in this case is on the employee to establish that he/she sustained an injury which arose out of and in the course of his/her employment and that disability resulted from the injury. King v. Liberty Mutual Insurance Company, 126 Ga. App. 550, 191 S.E.2d 346 (1972). When a condition can be fairly traced to the employment as a contributing proximate cause, the claim is compensable. Davis v. Houston General Insurance Company, 141 Ga. App. 385, 233 S.E.2d 479 (1977).

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