Can You Sue When You Are Hurt On The Job In Georgia?

Many people assume they are limited to whatever workers compensation pays them when they are injured on the job.  As a result, injured employees may be missing out on significant sources of compensation for their injuries and lost income.  While it is generally true that the workers compensation system limits the amount that injured employees can recover, it is extremely important for employees to know that they may be able to recover from other people or companies who cause an employee’s on-the-job injuries.

The purpose of workers’ compensation is to pay the medical bills and partial lost wages of an injured employee, and to protect the employer from being sued as a result of an employee’s injuries, regardless of who’s at fault.  But often the amount paid by the workers compensation system is not adequate to fully compensate an employee for his injuries and lost income.  So it is very important to determine if another party can be held responsible for an employee’s injuries.

An employee may be able to recover from a third party or an employer in the following situations:

  1.  If the injury was caused by a third-party, such as an outside contractor or an individual, who has no link to the company where the injured employee works, the employee may be able to recover from the third-party, but not the employer.
  2. If the injury is the result of a defective product then the employee may be able to sue the third-party manufacturer of the product that caused the injury, but not the employer.
  3. If the injury is the result of a toxic substance, you may be able to sue the third-party manufacturer of the toxic substance that caused the injury.
  4. If your employer fails to carry workers’ compensation coverage or is exempt from coverage and does not have it then you may be able to sue your employer for injuries suffered on the job.
  5. Although rare, you may be able to recover for damages from your employer if you are able to prove that your injury was the result of your employer’s willful, wanton or reckless negligence.
  6. Finally, you may be able to sue if an employer assaults an employee and the employee did not initiate the assault.

For example, I represented a man who was hurt while working on a construction site when an item fell and struck him as he was working at ground level.  He was certainly on-the-job when he was hurt. Nonetheless, we were able to successfully bring a suit against the company whose employees were careless in allowing the item to fall and strike my client.  My client did not work for that company.  So, the moral of the story is – don’t assume that when you are hurt at work, you can’t recover from the careless person or company.  Every case is different, so please speak to an attorney about your specific situation.

Over-Hydration in Student Athletes

Information is everywhere right now about the dangers of heat exhaustion in high school athletes.  After all, football players are training long hours in full gear during the hottest part of the summer.  But what about the often overlooked threat of overhydrating, which can be equally life threatening.

Yesterday, a 17-year old high school football player in Georgia died as a result of drinking too many liquids during practice.   According to news reports, the teenager drank 2-gallons of water followed by 2-gallons of Gatorade.  The excess liquid in his body caused massive brain swelling, which ultimately led to his death.

Over-hydration occurs when a person takes in more fluid than the body can excrete, causing sodium in the body to become dangerously low.

The early symptoms of over-hydration include:

  • nausea and vomiting
  • headache
  • confusion or disorientation

More severe symptoms include:

  • muscle weakness, spasms or cramps
  • seizures
  • unconsciousness
  • coma

How much should you drink? 

Student athletes are constantly being reminded to drink enough water.  So how do they know when they’ve had enough?   Typically, individuals should avoid drinking more than one liter of fluid per hour, as it takes one hour for one liter of fluid to leave the gut.  According to, football athletes should follow this general guideline (remember that the fluids should be drunk over a period of time, not all at once):

  • Drink 16 ounces (2 cups) of a sports drink one hour before exercise
  • Drink 20-40 ounces (2-1/2 to 5 cups) of fluid per hour of practice
  • Drink 16-24 ounces (2 to 3 cups) of fluid for every pound of body weight lost during exercise (Ideally, players should weigh themselves before and after practice to know how much weight they lost and how much they should drink to make up for that weight loss)

It’s a balancing act between getting enough fluid without getting too much.  Generally, it depends on how much and what type of exercise a person is doing, how hot it is outside and how much a person is sweating, urine color and body weight.  As always, if you experience any of the above symptoms you should stop exercise immediately and get medical help.

We the People Petition: Prevent Child Heat Stroke Deaths in Vehicles launched a petition today at titled “Prevent Child Heat Stroke Deaths in Vehicles.”  The petition, which needs 100,000 signatures, is calling on the Obama Administration to authorize the Department of Transportation (DOT) to take the following steps to prevent children from dying in hot vehicles:

  • Provide funding for the research and development of innovative technology
  • Identify, evaluate and test new technology to accelerate the most feasible and effective solutions.
  • Require the installation of new technology in all vehicles and/or child safety seats to prevent children from being left alone in vehicles.

Some of the new technology already available includes:

  • TOMY International’s First Years brand “Smart Car Seat.”  It uses iAlert technology to communicate with your smart phone.  The seat, which has a weight sensor in it, detects when the seat gets too hot and sends an alert to the parent’s smartphone.  It tells the parent the temperature inside the car and that the child is still in his/her car seat.
  • Wireless Proximity Sensors are also available.  This technology relies on a device that stays with the car seat, and a key fob that works with the device on the carseat but goes with the parent.  An alarm goes off if a child is detected in a car seat where the two devices have become separated.  One such type is the Baby Alert’s ChildMinder Soft Clip System Digital Wireless Monitor, and the other is the ChildMinder Infant-Toddler ElitePad System.  Both of which can be purchased on the internet.

Although technology should not solely be relied on, and parents should always use reminders and be diligent about checking on their children in the backseat of a car, this technology can serve as an added level of security in the fight to prevent childhood deaths due to being left unattended in hot cars.

Please take the time to link to the website here and sign the petition titled “Prevent Child Heat Stroke Deaths in Vehicles.”


Kids and Hot Cars

The heat across the South is oppressive.  Temperatures have soared into the 90s (and above), and as far as I can tell will continue to do so for the remainder of July.

Although temperatures outside are often in the 90s, temperatures inside your car climb well into the triple digits quickly.  It disheartens me to read about the Georgia father who forgot to drop his 22-month old little boy, Cooper Harris, off at daycare.  According to USA today, Cooper Harris was the 13th child in the U.S. this year, and the sixth this month, to perish after being left in a car.

I wrote about this very issue last year on my blog but feel it needs repeating.  Below are two very easy ways to help you remember your child is in the back seat of your vehicle:

  • Put a stuffed animal in the seat beside you.  When you reach your destination and see the stuffed animal you’ll know to check on your child in the backseat.
  • Put your purse, cell phone or briefcase in the backseat next to your child’s seat.  When you reach your destination you’ll have to reach into the back to get your items.
  • put a daily alarm/reminder on your calendar or phone to make sure you didn’t forget about a child in the back seat.

I highly recommend that you visit the website of the organization Kids and Cars at for valuable safety information about kids in and around cars.


Don’t be Fooled by the Sound of Drowning

Soon the temperatures in Georgia will climb well into the 90s and people will flock to the nearest pool for relief from the heat.  As an adult, it’s important to know when a child or other adult is in distress in the water or drowning and needs your help.

When we think of someone drowning, we imagine the person thrashing his or her arms about screaming for help.  While that behavior is an indication that someone might be in distress, it’s not the typical sound of drowning.  In reality, drowning is nearly silent.

So why would a drowning person be silent instead of calling for help and waving their arms?  Physiologically, they are unable to do either of those things.  We all need air to be able to speak.  When we are drowning, we are unable to get the air we need to call out for help, which is why someone won’t scream for help.  We all need the ability to voluntarily control our movements in order to wave for help.  When we are drowning, we cannot voluntarily control our arm movement and therefore can’t wave for help.

So what are the signs of drowning?  One important sign is that a drowning person doesn’t look like they’re drowning.  Instead, you might notice the following:

  • When their eyes are level with and their mouth dips below the water’s surface
  • When someone appears to be extending their arms to the side or forward as though trying to lift themselves up out of the water
  • A person is upright in the water with no signs of kicking (this is a short window as he or she can only struggle for about 20-60 seconds before going under the water)
  • Hair is over the eyes or forehead
  • A person’s eyes are glassy, unable to focus, or are closed
  • When someone’s head is tilted back with the mouth open or if a child’s head falls forward

An average of 280 children under the age of 5 drown each year.  It is the No. 2 cause of accidental death in children under the age of 16.  About half of the children who drown will do so within 25 yards of a parent or other adult.

So what are some swimming safety tips?

  • As a parent, never leave a child alone in a pool, not even to go to the bathroom or answer the phone.  Make sure you are within arms length if a child us under the age of 5.  Drowning can happen in 20 to 60 seconds.
  • Do not swim alone.  Always swim with a friend.
  • Wear a life vest if you don’t know how to swim.
  • Make sure home pools and inflatable pools are safely enclosed in a locked gate.
  • Take all toys out of the pool when not in use to prevent children from reaching to get them.
  • Check pool drains and suction covers to make sure they are not missing or broken, as they can cause entrapment, which can lead to drowning.
  • Know CPR and keep a first aid kit nearby.

Remember, when people are swimming, especially children, they make noise.  If things get quiet you need to know why.  If someone appears to be quiet, unfocused or just doesn’t seem right, then ask him or her if they’re okay.  If they can easily answer yes, then they’re probably okay.  If they’re silent or can’t respond then help them immediately.   Click here to read a firsthand account of a lifeguard who saved a 9-year-old child from drowning while she was only 10 feet away from her parents, who didn’t even realize she was in distress.