Trial Notebook: Collections (Workers Compensation)

Awards: Enforcement of Collection in Superior Court

Board enforcement of award in Superior Court (O.C.G.A. § 34-9-106). Daniel Garcia attempted to enforce and award of the Administrative Law Judge and Full Board of the State Board of Workers' Compensation in the Superior Court against Brennan Roofing Company. Apparently the lawyer for the claimant had the name of the wrong company. It turned out that Brennan Roofing Company was actually Brannon Roofing Company. The Superior Court modified the Award to correct the name and the Court of Appeals held that they could not. "The authority of the Superior Court is limited to the enforcement of the final Award of the State Board of Workers' Compensation. See Kingery Block & Concrete Co. v, Luttrell, 174 Ga. App. 481, 330 S.E.2d 181 (1985) (can only enforce award of board as written). Consequently, the Superior Court had no authority to change the employer's name in the award or to add Brannon as a party to the award. The injured employee's remedy was with the State Board. Apparently the Court of Appeals distinguished this case from the Winnersville Roofing Company v. Coddington, 238 Ga. App. 95, 640 S.E.2d 680 (2006) even though there doesn't seem to be much distinction, even though the main thrust of the Winnersville case was notice.

Uninsured Employer Workers' Compensation

In a case where an employer is uninsured in workers' compensation and an employee is injured and needs medical care along with lost wage benefits, the case must be won at the State Board of Workers' Compensation level and perhaps on appeal to the Board and further on. After there is success in obtaining an Award against the employer, the collection process must be brought in the superior or state court of the county where the incident occurred. O.C.G.A. § 34‑9‑16 provides that any party in interest may file in the superior court of the county in which the injury occurred, or if the injury occurred outside of the state, in the county in which the original hearing was had, a certified copy of a settlement agreement approved by the Board or a final order and decision of the members of the Board or of an Award of the members unappealed form or of an Award of the members affirmed upon appeal, whereupon the court shall render judgment in accordance therewith and notify the parties. Such judgment shall have the same effect in all proceedings in relation thereto shall thereafter be the same as though the judgment had been rendered in an action duly heard and determined by such court; provided, however that where the payment of compensation is insured or provided for in accordance with this chapter no such judgment shall be entered nor execution thereupon issued except upon application to the court and for good cause shown. Upon presentation to the court of a certified copy of the decision of the Board ending, diminishing or increasing a weekly payment under the provisions of this chapter particularly under Code § 34-9-104, the court shall revoke or modify the order or decree to confirm to such decision of the Board. It also appears that attorney fees can be issued at the superior court level under O.C.G.A. § 9-15-14. See section of Trial Notebook, Section II - Collection of Workers' Compensation Benefits.

In addition to the above, if the employer is insolvent a direct action in superior court can be made against the actual officers of the corporation. This is all pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 34‑9‑120 and Samuel v. Baitcher, 247 Ga. 71, 274 S.E.2d 327 (1981).

Workers Comp: Superior Court

In Turner v. Peachbelt Properties, Inc., 293 Ga. App. 335, 667 S.E.2d 117 (2008) certain increases in the amount of judgment from a decision of the Administrative Law Judge and the State Board of Workers' Compensation were improper because they were made outside the term of the judge. This is a general paper on how to collect on a workers' compensation judgment. This is an area outside my area of knowledge but it is important to note in the trial notebook. See also Section 9-12-60 (a) that indicates that a judgment shall become dormant and unenforceable when seven years shall have elapsed after the rendition of the judgment before execution is issued. Seven years is important.

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