The main focus of this blog post will be regarding the State Board of Workers' Compensation. The Workers' Compensation Act creates and governs the State Board of Workers' Compensation ("State Board"). The State Board is the government agency that administers and adjudicates all Workers' Compensation claims. Absent a potential appeal of a litigated matter, a Workers' Compensation claim will reside at the State Board for the duration of the claim, from inception through settlement.
While litigation is a bit far afield from the topic at hand, it is important to note that in a Workers' Compensation claim that must be litigated, due to denial of the claim or any of the issues that may come up in an accepted case, such litigation also takes place initially at the State Board, and frequently completes there. When appropriate, for certain matters, motions may be filed. If a hearing is required, to have a case declared compensable or for other purposes, a hearing can be requested pursuant to O.C.G.A. Sec. 34-9-102, and such hearing will be scheduled before an Administrative Law Judge at one of the State Board offices, of which there are many throughout the state. Of course, there are no jury trials in Workers' Compensation.
Workers' Compensation hearings are bench trials, more or less comparable to an evidentiary motion hearing in State or Superior Court. Details regarding conducting of Workers' Compensation hearings can be found in O.C.G.A. Sec. 34-9-102 and the associated Board Rule. In particular, discovery is available to the parties after a hearing request is filed, and discovery is conducted in accord with the discovery provisions of the Civil Practice Act. Workers' Compensation hearings are also to be conducted in accord with the rules of evidence applicable to civil non-jury cases in the Superior Courts of Georgia. O.C.G.A. Sec. 34-9-102(d) and (e) and Board Rule 102.
Of course, Workers' Compensation being essentially an area of administrative law, the first level of appeal after the hearing remains at the State Board of Workers' Compensation, in the Appellate Division. O.C.G.A. Sec. 34-9-103. Only after a decision is rendered at that level does the case enter the regular Georgia court system, if one party or the other chooses to appeal a decision of the Appellate Division. Appeals from decisions of the Appellate Division are first brought in the Superior Court of the county in which the injury occurred. O.C.G.A. Sec. 34-9-105. In appropriate cases, appeal may thereafter be brought and heard in the Court of Appeals of Georgia per O.C.G.A. Sec. 34-9-105. See, also, Board Rules 103 and 105.
If you have been injured in a work accident and are looking to file a claim for workers' compensation benefits, speak with an Atlanta workers' compensation lawyer from our firm today!