MAYOR AND ALDERMEN OF SAVANNAH v. Stevens

Decision Date07 June 2004
Docket NumberNo. S03G1536.,S03G1536.
Citation278 Ga. 166,598 S.E.2d 456
PartiesMAYOR AND ALDERMEN OF THE CITY OF SAVANNAH v. STEVENS.
CourtGeorgia Supreme Court

OPINION TEXT STARTS HERE

James B. Blackburn, Oliver, Maner & Gray, Patrick T. O'Connor, Patricia T. Paul, for appellant.

Karsman, Brooks & Callaway, Timothy F. Callaway III, Harris O'Dell Jr., Savannah, for appellee.

FLETCHER, Chief Justice.

We granted certiorari to determine whether the Court of Appeals correctly held that the injuries suffered by police office Eunita Stevens in a car accident while on her way to work arose out of and in the course of her employment.1 Because Stevens' injuries were in no way related to her duties as a police officer, they did not arise out of her employment. Therefore, we reverse.

Prior to the accident on November 30, 1999, Stevens worked as an administrative corporal in the Savannah Police Department. The accident occurred as Stevens was driving to work in her personal car and wearing her police uniform. The Administrative Law Judge found that the accident arose out of and in the course of Stevens' employment because, according to the policies of the Savannah Police Department, "she was subject to be called to duty 24 hours per day and was expected to preserve the peace and enforce the law even when off duty." The ALJ Appellate Division, Superior Court, and Court of Appeals all affirmed, finding the decision to be supported by some evidence. That decision, however, unjustifiably extends the scope of a public employer's liability for employee injuries under established workers' compensation law. It would require workers' compensation liability to issue any time an off-duty, uniformed police officer were injured within the city or county limits where they are charged with enforcing the law, no matter whether the injury in any way arose out of the officer's employment.

1. Generally, an injury is compensable only if it arises out of and in the course of the employment.2 The test presents two independent and distinct criteria, and an injury is not compensable unless it satisfies both.3

An injury arises in the course of certain employment if the employee is engaged in that employment at the time the injury occurs.4 Generally, "a workman injured while going to or from his place of work is not in the course of his employment."5 The unique role of police officers, however, will sometimes require a departure from this general rule. In Barge v. City of College Park, the Court of Appeals ruled that police officers would be considered within the course of their employment when they are "on duty or on call, that is, subject to duty."6 This exception to the general rule, known as the continuous employment doctrine, recognizes that police officers are often called to enforce the law at any time within their jurisdiction, regardless of whether or not they are actually on-duty at the time.

Although Stevens was off-duty at the time of the accident, Savannah's policy required that Stevens enforce the law at any time while she was within the Savannah City limits. Accordingly, under the doctrine of continuous employment, Stevens' injury arose in the course of her employment.

2. An injury arises out of certain employment when it results from exposure occasioned by the nature of the employment, or where there is a "`causal connection between the conditions under which the work is required to be performed and the resulting injury.'"7 An injury does not arise out of the employment if it was caused by a "`hazard to which the work[er] would have been equally exposed apart from the employment.'"8 Where the injury does not "`arise out of' the employment, the [Workers' Compensation] Act is not applicable regardless whether the injury ... occurred `in the course' of the employment."9

Stevens' car accident in this case was in no way related to her work as a police officer. At the time of the accident, she was not actively engaged in any police work nor was she responding to a law enforcement problem. The hazards she encountered were in no way occasioned by her job as a police officer. Because there was no causal connection between her employment and her accident, Stevens' injuries did not arise out of her employment.

In Board of Trustees of the Policemen's Pension Fund of Atlanta v. Christy,10 246 Ga. 553, 556(2), 272 S.E.2d 288 (1980), this Court found that a police officer's injury, which occurred while he was riding home on a police motorcycle, met the requirements of the Workers' Compensation Act. The opinion fails, however, to distinguish between injuries "arising out of" employment and those incurred "in the course of" employment, both of which...

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28 cases
  • Frett v. State Farm Emp. Workers' Comp.
    • United States
    • Georgia Supreme Court
    • June 16, 2020
    ...and distinct," and any claim for compensation under the Act must satisfy both prerequisites. See Mayor & Aldermen of Savannah v. Stevens, 278 Ga. 166, 166 (1), 598 S.E.2d 456 (2004). See also New Amsterdam Cas. Co. v. Sumrell, 30 Ga. App. 682, 687, 118 S.E. 786 (1923). The Court of Appeals ......
  • Frett v. State Farm Emp. Workers' Comp.
    • United States
    • Georgia Court of Appeals
    • November 2, 2018
    ...of employment." See OCGA § 34-9-1 (4). Both of these "independent and distinct criteria" must be satisfied. Mayor &c. of Savannah v. Stevens , 278 Ga. 166 (1), 598 S.E.2d 456 (2004).The words "in the course of the employment" relate to the time, place, and circumstances under which the acci......
  • Slater v. McKinsey & Company, Inc. United States
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Northern District of Georgia
    • March 30, 2021
    ...must (a) occur in the course of employment, and (b) arise out of the employment. O.C.G.A. § 34-9-1 ; Mayor & Aldermen of Savannah v. Stevens , 278 Ga. 166, 166, 598 S.E.2d 456, 457 (2004) ("The test [for compensation under the Act] presents two independent and distinct criteria, and an inju......
  • Ray Bell Const. Co. v. King
    • United States
    • Georgia Supreme Court
    • March 26, 2007
    ...whether the Court of Appeals had applied the two-pronged test for a compensable injury reiterated in Mayor & Aldermen, etc. v. Stevens, 278 Ga. 166(1), 598 S.E.2d 456 (2004): the injury by accident must arise in the course of employment and out of the course of employment, "two independent ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
4 books & journal articles
  • Local Government Law - R. Perry Sentell, Jr.
    • United States
    • Mercer University School of Law Mercer Law Reviews No. 56-1, September 2004
    • Invalid date
    ...these facts is therefore not sustainable." Id. 29. 261 Ga. App. 694, 583 S.E.2d 553 (2003), overruled by City of Savannah v. Stevens, 278 Ga. 166, 598 S.E.2d 456 (2004). This case is outside the survey period and will, therefore, be discussed in a subsequent survey. 30. Id. at 694, 583 S.E.......
  • Workers' Compensation - H. Michael Bagley, Daniel C. Kniffen, and Katherine D. Dixon
    • United States
    • Mercer University School of Law Mercer Law Reviews No. 56-1, September 2004
    • Invalid date
    ...Mayor & Aldermen of Savannah v. Stevens, 261 Ga. App. 694, 583 S.E.2d 553 (2003), overruled by Mayor & Alderman of Savannah v. Stevens, 278 Ga. 166, 598 S.E.2d 456 (2004); Harris County Sheriff's Office v. Negrete, 259 Ga. App. 891, 578 S.E.2d 579 (2003). 58. See H. Michael Bagley, et al., ......
  • Workers' Compensation - H. Michael Bagley, Daniel C. Kniffen, and Katherine D. Dixon
    • United States
    • Mercer University School of Law Mercer Law Reviews No. 59-1, September 2007
    • Invalid date
    ...& Katherine D. Dixon, Workers' Compensation, 58 MERCER L. REV. 453, 475-76 (2006). 204. Ray Bell, 281 Ga. at 854, 642 S.E.2d at 843; 278 Ga. 166, 598 S.E.2d 456 (2004). 205. Stevens, 278 Ga. at 166, 598 S.E.2d at 457. 206. Id. at 167, 598 S.E.2d at 458. 207. Id. 208. Id. 209. Ray Bell, 281 ......
  • Construction Law - Dana R. Grantham, David L. Hobson, and David J. Mura, Jr.
    • United States
    • Mercer University School of Law Mercer Law Reviews No. 59-1, September 2007
    • Invalid date
    ...542 (2006). 60. Ray Bell Constr., 281 Ga. at 853-54, 642 S.E.2d at 843 (alteration in original) (quoting Mayor of Savannah v. Stevens, 278 Ga. 166, 166, 598 S.E.2d 456, 457 (2004)). 61. See id. 62. Id. at 853, 642 S.E.2d at 843. 63. Id. 64. Id. at 853-54, 642 S.E.2d at 843. 65. Id. at 854, ......

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