A fellow attorney recently asked me whether his client, the decedent of a employee who was struck by lighting working at Atlanta Hartsfield Airport, would be entitled to death benefits under Georgia Workers’ Compensation Law. The answer is yes.
The Georgia Courts have adopted the positional risk doctrine. Under this doctrine, it is only necessary for the employee to prove that the employee’s work brought the employee within the range of danger by requiring the employee’s presence in the locale where the peril struck, even though any other person present would have also been injured.
This doctrine has been extended to windstorms and tornadoes. In National Fire Ins. Co. v. Edwards, 152 Ga. App. 566 (1979), the employee was injured when a tornado or windstorm struck the building where he was working. The Court awarded benefits noting that “for the injury to be compensable, it is only necessary for the claimant to prove that his work brought him within range of the danger by requiring his presence in the locale when the peril struck, even though any other person present would have also been injured irrespective of his employment.”
Thus, Acts of God are covered under the Georgia Workers’ Compensation Act under the positional risk doctrine.