As used in this chapter, the term:
(1) “Board” means the State Board of Workers’ Compensation.
(2) “Employee” means every person in the service of another under any contract of hire or apprenticeship, written or implied, except a person whose employment is not in the usual course of the trade, business, occupation, or profession of the employer; and, except as otherwise provided in this chapter, minors are included even though working in violation of any child labor law or other similar statute; provided, however, that nothing contained in this chapter shall be construed as repealing or altering any such law or statute. Any reference to any employee who has been injured shall, if the employee dies, include such employee’s legal representatives, dependents, and other persons to whom compensation may be payable pursuant to this chapter. All firefighters, law enforcement personnel, and personnel of emergency management or civil defense agencies, emergency medical services, and rescue organizations whose compensation is paid by the state or any county or municipality, regardless of the method of appointment, and all full-time county employees and employees of elected salaried county officials are specifically included in this definition. There shall also be included within such term any volunteer firefighter of any county or municipality of this state, but only for services rendered in such capacity which are not prohibited by Code Section 38-3-36 and only if the governing authority of the county or municipality for which such services are rendered shall provide by appropriate resolution for inclusion of such volunteer firefighters; any volunteer law enforcement personnel of any county or municipality of this state who are certified by the Georgia Peace Officer Standards and Training Council, for volunteer law enforcement services rendered in such capacity which are not prohibited by Code Section 38-3-36 and only if the governing authority of the county or municipality for which such services are rendered shall provide by appropriate resolution for inclusion of such volunteer law enforcement personnel; any person who is a volunteer member or worker of an emergency management or civil defense organization, emergency medical service, or rescue organization, whether governmental or not, of any county or municipality of this state for volunteer services, which are not prohibited by Code Section 38-3-36, rendered in such capacity and only if the governing authority of the county or municipality for which such services are rendered shall provide by appropriate resolution for inclusion of such volunteer members or workers; and any person certified by the Department of Human Resources or the Composite State Board of Medical Examiners and registered with any county or municipality of this state as a medical first responder for any volunteer first responder services rendered in such capacity, which are not prohibited by Code Section 38-3-36 and only if the governing authority of the county or municipality for which such services are rendered shall provide by appropriate resolution for inclusion of such responders. The various elected county officers and elected members of the governing authority of an individual county shall also be included in this definition, if the governing authority of said county shall provide therefor by appropriate resolution. For the purposes of workers’ compensation coverage, employees of county and district health agencies established under Chapter 3 of Title 31 are deemed and shall be considered employees of the State of Georgia and employees of community service boards established under Chapter 2 of Title 37 shall be considered to be employees of the state. For the purpose of workers’ compensation coverage, members of the Georgia National Guard and the State Defense Force serving on state active duty pursuant to an order by the Governor are deemed and shall be considered to be employees of this state. A person shall be an independent contractor and not an employee if such person has a written contract as an independent contractor and if such person buys a product and resells it, receiving no other compensation, or provides an agricultural service or such person otherwise qualifies as an independent contractor. Notwithstanding the foregoing provisions of this paragraph, any officer of a corporation may elect to be exempt from coverage under this chapter by filing written certification of such election with the insurer or, if there is no insurer, the State Board of Workers’ Compensation as provided in Code Section 34-9-2.1. For purposes of this chapter, an owner-operator as such term is defined in Code Section 40-2-87 shall be deemed to be an independent contractor. Inmates or persons participating in a work release program, community service program, or similar program as part of the punishment for violation of a municipal ordinance pursuant to Code Section 36-32-5 or a county ordinance or a state law shall not be deemed to be an employee while participating in work or training or while going to and from the work site or training site, unless such inmate or person is employed for private gain in violation of Code Section 42-1-5 or Code Section 42-8-70 or unless the municipality or county had voluntarily established a policy, on or before January 1, 1993, to provide workers’ compensation benefits to such individuals.
(3) “Employer” shall include the State of Georgia and all departments, instrumentalities, and authorities thereof; each county within the state, including its school district; each independent public school district; any municipal corporation within the state and any political division thereof; any individual, firm, association, or public or private corporation engaged in any business, except as otherwise provided in this chapter, and the receiver or trustee thereof; any electric membership corporation organized under Article 4 of Chapter 3 of Title 46 or other cooperative corporation engaged in rural electrification, including electric refrigeration cooperatives; any telephone cooperative organized under Part 3 of Article 2 of Chapter 5 of Title 46 or other cooperative or nonprofit corporation engaged in furnishing telephone service; the legal representative of a deceased employer using the service of another for pay; and any person who, pursuant to a contract or agreement with an employer, provides workers’ compensation benefits to an injured employee, notwithstanding the fact that no common-law master-servant relationship or contract of employment exists between the injured employee and the person providing the benefits. If the employer is insured, this term shall include his insurer as far as applicable.
(4) “Injury” or “personal injury” means only injury by accident arising out of and in the course of the employment and shall not, except as provided in this chapter, include a disease in any form except where it results naturally and unavoidably from the accident. Except as otherwise provided in this chapter, “injury” and “personal injury” shall include the aggravation of a preexisting condition by accident arising out of and in the course of employment, but only for so long as the aggravation of the preexisting condition continues to be the cause of the disability; the preexisting condition shall no longer meet this criteria when the aggravation ceases to be the cause of the disability. “Injury” and “personal injury” shall not include injury caused by the willful act of a third person directed against an employee for reasons personal to such employee, nor shall “injury” and “personal injury” include heart disease, heart attack, the failure or occlusion of any of the coronary blood vessels, stroke, or thrombosis unless it is shown by a preponderance of competent and credible evidence, which shall include medical evidence, that any of such conditions were attributable to the performance of the usual work of employment. Alcoholism and disabilities attributable thereto shall not be deemed to be “injury” or “personal injury” by accident arising out of and in the course of employment. Drug addiction or disabilities resulting therefrom shall not be deemed to be “injury” or “personal injury” by accident arising out of and in the course of employment except when such addiction or disability resulted from the use of drugs or medicines prescribed for the treatment of the initial injury by an authorized physician. Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter, and solely for members of the Georgia National Guard and State Defense Force, an injury arising in the course of employment shall include any injury incurred by a member of the Georgia National Guard or State Defense Force while serving on state active duty or when traveling to and from state active duty.