The compensability of stroke-related deaths in workers' compensation cases is a hotly contested matter, and the compensability of strokes precipitated by so-called job-stress has run a dividing line between Georgia courts. This Article will provide the reader with the history of the law which gave rise to this particular issue and develop the controversy while determining the reasoning behind the opposing opinions. This Article will also provide the reader with some insight into the practical effects of a Georgia Supreme Court decision on this issue one way or another.
In order to aid the reader in a more complete understanding of this issue and its implications, this Article will rely upon a "case study" taken from a pending case before an Administrative Law Judge (AJ) in a district of Georgia. The purpose of the case study is to give the reader a concrete example of the issue and dispel any ambiguities that may arise in a purely law-oriented discourse. The case study will be extremely specific, so this Article will attempt to incorporate as much of the law surrounding this issue while treating the case study as an undercurrent that flows through the entire Article as a concrete anchoring point.
This Article will first analyze the history of the law that led to the issue in point, including much of the generic law surrounding all of workers' compensation. Beginning with the Georgia Code's authorization of certain types of injuries as compensable, this Article will detail the emergence of heart attack and stroke cases in workers' compensation law and then proceed to cases dealing with work-related stress.
After detailing the history of stress-related strokes in workers' compensation claims, this Article will discuss the compensability of strokes in workers' compensation from the viewpoint of decided cases as well as from an independant analysis of the law. Job stress will be the next subject this Article discusses using the same analysis. Finally, this Article will provide a suggested solution to the division of the courts on this issue. This solution will be supported by the plain language of the law and overwhelming medical opinion as well as public policy considerations.
"Workers' Compensation and the Compensability of Attenuated Injuries: "One man's stress is another man's pleasure","
Mercer Law Review: Vol. 48:
4, Article 18.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.law.mercer.edu/jour_mlr/vol48/iss4/18