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Appeal; from Richmond Superior Court-- Judge Kennedy. May 18, 1951.
The award is based on findings of fact which are supported by some evidence authorizing compensation under Code 114-404, providing for total incapacity to work due to the injury of the claimant sustained by him by reason of an accident arising out of and in the course of his employment. Although the claimant suffered disability to a specific member, which would have entitled him to compensation for a lesser maximum period of time under Code 114-406, the finding that such injury was superadded so as to affect other portions of his body, and entitle him to an award under the greater maximum period of time as prescribed by Code 114-404, is authorized by the evidence.
Dewey Brooks, claimant in this workmen's-compensation case, sustained an accident on April 6, 1950, arising out of and in the course of his employment as a laborer for Marbut Milling Company; the question here being the amount and method of computation of compensation due him. The company has a warehouse in which carload lots of hundred-pound sacks of soy beans are stacked against the walls; one of these stacks fell over on the claimant, covering him completely, and he remained pinned down under the sacks for over half an hour until he could be dug out. He was taken to the hospital, where, in addition to the very serious multiple fractures of his left leg and knee joint, multiple contusions and abrasions of the right hand, thigh and knee and contusion of the right chest wall were determined. The claimant underwent surgery on his left leg, and was treated by Dr. Pinson and subsequently examined by Drs. Brittingham and Silver. These physicians all recognized the disability to the leg, although they disagreed as to whether or not he had reached maximum improvement. It was the opinion of Dr. Pinson that the injury to the right chest wall had cleared up completely. Dr. Silver expressed no opinion on this subject. Dr. Brittingham testified that he had had occasion to examine the patient at the clinic during the last war, and the claimant was perfectly normal then; that at the present time he is suffering from injury both to his leg and his nervous system; that he has a little trouble with his heart, which in the physician's opinion was aggravated by the chest injury; that the heart ailment was a leaking heart, which would always cause him to breathe faster; that there is no such thing as heart disease, is being a manifestation of something else, and that it is extremely probable that the accident contributed to an aggravation of the heart condition. The witness on cross-examination agreed with counsel for the insurance company that the cause of nervousness is always a matter of conjecture and speculation, and also agreed that the cause of the heart condition was a matter of speculation, but reiterated that it was extremely probable that a crushing blow to the chest wall would aggravate the heart condition. He found the claimant totally disabled. The claimant testified that he was able to do no work except heavy labor, and that since the date of this accident he had not been able to work. The evidence most favorable to the plaintiff in error was that of Dr. Pinson, who thought that the claimant should be able to carry light loads or relay messages, but that he could not do the work of a common laborer and is not qualified for clerical work.
The director before whom the hearing was conducted entered an award for total disability, for a period not to exceed 350 weeks, in favor of the claimant. This award was affirmed by the judge of the Superior Court of Richmond County, and the exception is to that ruling.
(After stating the foregoing facts.) It is well settled that an award in a workmen's compensation proceeding must be supported by findings of fact; that findings of fact must be based on evidence, and that mere conjecture does not constitute evidence upon which such findings may be based. Lathem v. Hartford Accident & Indemnity Co., 60 Ga. App. 523 (3 S. E. 2d, 916); U. S. Fidelity & Guaranty Co. v. Brown, 68 Ga. App. 706 (23 S. E. 2d, 443); Woodruff v. American Mutual Liability Ins. Co., 67 Ga. App. 554 (21 S. E. 2d, 298). It is also indisputable that a disability resulting from loss or loss of use of a specific member, where there is no superadded injury or disease affecting other portions of the body, should be computed under Code 114-406, providing schedules of compensation relating to loss of specific members, rather than Code 114-404, providing for total incapacity to work; and this is true even though the claimant is totally incapacitated at the time. See New Amsterdam Casualty Co. v. Brown, 81 Ga. App. 790 (60 S. E. 2d, 245); Travelers Insurance Co. v. Reid, 178 Ga. 399 (173 S. E. 376), reversing 46 Ga. App. 168 (167 S. E. 222). It is recognized here that the claimant's disability and the injury to his leg are serious and apparently permanent. This alone, however, would not entitle him to disability benefits for a period of 350 weeks or until a change of condition. It is undisputed, however, that the claimant did sustain other injuries, including chest contusions; and the only question is one of fact as to whether there was, as a result thereof, an aggravation of his heart condition which aided in the general impairment of his physical condition. The director had a right to find from the evidence that the claimant at the time of the hearing was totally disabled. He also was authorized to find that there had been a chest injury in addition to the leg injury, and that the claimant was presently suffering from a heart disability and increased nervousness; also, that there was a causal connection existing between the chest injury and the resultant disability of the claimant, which affected other portions of his body besides the specific injury to his leg. The finding that the disability of the claimant resulted from multiple or superadded injuries and was not confined entirely to the leg injury was authorized by the evidence, and the judgment of the superior court affirming the award is therefore without error.
Judgment affirmed. MacIntyre, P. J., and Gardner, J., concur.
Paul T. Chance, contra.
Fulcher & Fulcher, for plaintiffs in error.
Saturday May 23 05:23 EDT

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