Since 1920, Georgia has had in place a special system of laws to compensate workers who are injured on the job. Prior to the enactment of these laws, an employee who was injured on the job had to file a civil lawsuit against his or her employer to recover for his injuries, medical costs and lost wages. The employee had to prove that his injury arose out of the negligence of his employer. Such lawsuits were costly, time consuming and difficult to win because of the many defenses available to an employer. For example, an employer could successfully argue that the employee was aware of the risk and voluntarily assumed the risk which led to his injury. On the other hand, employers were exposed to substantial costs and damages in defending and paying for lawsuits, particularly where the employee’s injury was catastrophic, which could bankrupt a company. This created an incentive for both sides to reach what is known as the “Grand Bargain.”
This “Grand Bargain” in Workers’ Compensation did away with the concept of negligence or fault in work injuries. It does not matter if the injury to the employee resulted from the negligence of the employer or if the employee was careless. As long as the employee is injured while performing his job, and within the scope of his job, then the employee is entitled to certain benefits, such as medical care and wage replacement while unable to work. However, these benefits are neither absolute nor limitless.