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Can Disobedience Result in a Loss of Workers' Comp Benefits?

iStock_47810912_LARGE-768x512.jpgIf an employee who disobeys an employer's instructions and acts in a dangerous fashion is injured as a result, can that person lose workers' comp benefits? The Georgia Supreme Court has ruled that yes, he or she could lose those benefits.

The case in question involved a man named Adrian Burdette, a cellphone tower technician at Chandler Telecon LLC. Burdette was injured in 2012 after falling from a cellphone tower.

At the end of his shift, Burdette was instructed to climb down the tower, rather than doing a controlled descent using his safety gear. Burdette instead attempted the controlled descent, but he ended up smashing into an ice bridge, leading to ankle, leg and hip injuries.

At first, Georgia's State Board of Workers' Compensation denied Burdette benefits on grounds that he was engaged in willful misconduct at the time of the injury. When the case reached the Georgia Court of Appeals, the court disagreed. It ruled that because Burdette's actions were not of a "quasi criminal nature involving the intentional doing of something either with the knowledge that it is likely to result in serious injury, or with a wanton and reckless disregard of its probable consequences."

However, the Georgia Supreme Court unanimously struck down the appeals court's ruling, and Burdette was denied workers' compensation benefits.

What Do I Do If My Workers' Comp Claim Is Denied?

It is common for workers' comp claims to be denied, for a variety of reasons. You should not consider a denial to be the end of the line. Act quickly and discuss your case with a workers' comp lawyer. Appeal deadlines for workers' comp are short and strict; don't wait until it's too late.

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