Straight to the point, spider bites can be compensable “accidents” under the Georgia’s Workers’ Compensation Act, assuming the accident arises out of and in the course of employment. However, there are some big red flags to look out for before accepting a spider bite claim, especially if an injured worker reports things like,
“This must be a spider bite because I don’t know what else it could be, and it must have happened at work because I don’t know where else it could have happened.”
So, at the risk of sounding daft,
Did a spider actually bite them?
Most spiders are harmless. They either do not bite people or are not venomous. Even still, people frequently misdiagnose spider bites when they have other medical conditions, including, but definitely not limited to, cellulitis (a bacterial skin infection).
Other than the employee’s testimony, is there other evidence of a spider bite?
If the individual saw the spider and reported the bite soon after, there is a much higher likelihood that the bite happened as the employee alleges. However, because people misdiagnose themselves with spider bites, if the employee only reported the alleged bite days or weeks after the fact, your spider-sense should be tingling. If the employee reported the claim late, it starts to appear more likely the employee may have misdiagnosed a skin infection as a “spider bite.”
Similarly, if you are examining a claim and have medical records, pay close attention to whether the doctor(s) treated a spider bite or some other skin condition. However, remember, even if the doctor(s) treated them for cellulitis, you are not out of the woods just yet because insect bites can cause cellulitis, so you still should investigate whether the evidence supports an actual spider/insect bite.
Did the bite actually “arise out of and in the course of” their job duties? Put another way, did the bite occur in an area known to have a greater risk of spider bites?
Even assuming that a spider bit the employee at work, there still are spiders in more places than just work. When a similar issue came before the State Board of Workers’ Compensation, Judge Stenger noted spiders were a hazard that the employee was “equally exposed to even away from employment.” In that case, the injured worker worked on a loading dock but could not testify to seeing any spiders or other “harmful creatures” in his work area. After hearing the evidence, the ALJ declined to award benefits because there was not a “persuasive work connection.”
You can read the published State Board decision cited above by clicking here.
If you have an injured worker complaining about a spider bite, contact Jonathan Anderson, (404) 926-4104 or firstname.lastname@example.org to walk through the facts before deciding whether to accept or deny the claim.