O.C.G.A. § 34-9-80 requires that every injured employee or his representative shall, immediately on the occurrence of any accident or as soon thereafter as practicable, give or cause to be given to the employer, its agent, representative, foreman, or the immediate supervisor of the injured employee a notice of the accident. No compensation will be payable unless such notice, either oral or written, is given within thirty (30) days after the occurrence of an accident, or within thirty (30) days after death resulting from an accident, unless it can be shown that the employee had been prevented from doing so by reason of physical or mental incapacity, or by fraud or deceit, or that the employer, its agent, representative, foreman or immediate supervisor of the injured employee had knowledge of the accident, or unless a reasonable excuse is made to the satisfaction of the State Board of Workers’ Compensation for not giving such notice and it is reasonably proven to the satisfaction of the Board that the employer had not been prejudiced thereby.
The Georgia Court of Appeals recently tackled whether an employee should be denied benefits under Georgia’s Workers’ Compensation Act for failing to meet the notice requirement under O.C.G.A. § 34-9-80 in McAdoo v. MARTA, 755 S.E. 2d 278, decided March 11, 2014. Mr. McAdoo was employed by MARTA as a bus driver. In May of 2010, Mr. McAdoo began to experience low back pain that caused symptoms in his right lower extremity. His supervisor urged him to seek medical attention for his back pain because McAdoo was operating the bus differently in order to compensate for his symptoms. The employee sought treatment with his family physician, who referred him to a neurologist. Both physicians filled out disability forms indicating the employee’s symptoms were not work-related. The employee went out of work on October 17, 2010. In December of 2010, the employee filled out a short-term disability form on which he indicated his disability was work related.
The Georgia Court of Appeals held that the short-term disability form completed by the employee (McAdoo) was adequate notice, as the sole requirement is that the information provided by the employee be sufficient to put the employer on notice of injury so that the employer may conduct an investigation.