2020 Georgia Code
Title 34 - Labor and Industrial Relations
Chapter 9 - Workers' Compensation
Article 3 - Procedure
Part 1 - Claims and Notice of Accident
§ 34-9-84. Assignability of Claims

Universal Citation: GA Code § 34-9-84 (2020)

No claim for compensation under this chapter shall be assignable, and all compensation and claims therefor shall be exempt from all claims of creditors.

(Ga. L. 1920, p. 167, § 22; Code 1933, § 114-302.)

Law reviews.

- For article, "Consumer Bankruptcy Panel: Hot Consumer Bankruptcy Plan Issues," see 28 Emory Bankr. Dev. J. 333 (2012).

JUDICIAL DECISIONS

Purpose.

- All laws exempting any portion of one's earnings from the process of garnishment are primarily based upon the necessity of exempting in behalf of a debtor, even against the debtor's just debts, something with which to care for the debtor's family or dependents as well as oneself; this is the only principle upon which a debtor should be permitted to withhold money within the power of the court from a creditor, the justness of whose claim is undisputed. American Mut. Liab. Ins. Co. v. Hicks, 159 Ga. App. 214, 283 S.E.2d 18 (1981).

Jurisdiction when constitutionality in question.

- If constitutionality of this section was drawn in question, the Supreme Court of Georgia, and not the Court of Appeals, had jurisdiction of the case. Smith v. Georgia Granite Corp., 57 Ga. App. 245, 194 S.E. 908, rev'd on other grounds, 186 Ga. 634, 198 S.E. 772 (1938).

Exemption only for benefit of residents.

- The exemption from the claims of creditors, as declared in this section was a mere privilege and not an absolute right. It was provided only as a matter of state policy for the benefit of residents of this state, and cannot be claimed either by or for a debtor who was removed to another state and is no longer either a permanent or a temporary resident of Georgia. Smith v. Georgia Granite Corp., 186 Ga. 634, 198 S.E. 772 (1938).

Garnishment.

- While ancillary to the main action, a garnishment was a distinct cause of action between different parties, requiring a separate and independent judgment. Accordingly, when the garnishee in an attachment case answered that it was indebted to the defendant in a stated amount, but that such indebtedness arose under the workers' compensation law (see now O.C.G.A. § 34-9-1 et seq.) and was exempt from garnishment under this section, and the plaintiff filed a traverse of the answer attacking the exemption provision as unconstitutional, and alleging that the indebtedness referred to in the answer was not exempt, for the reason that the defendant removed from Georgia and then resided in another state, the questions for determination upon such answer and traverse related only to the claimed exemption from garnishment, and did not include any question as to the liability of the defendant to the plaintiff in attachment, or as to the assignability of the claim for compensation. Smith v. Georgia Granite Corp., 186 Ga. 634, 198 S.E. 772 (1938).

Garnishment to collect a judgment for child support is not precluded by O.C.G.A. § 34-9-84. American Mut. Liab. Ins. Co. v. Hicks, 159 Ga. App. 214, 283 S.E.2d 18 (1981); Travelers Ins. Co. v. Moxley, 160 Ga. App. 391, 287 S.E.2d 340 (1981).

Workers' compensation benefits.

- Debtor's workers' compensation benefits did not constitute property of that debtors' bankruptcy estate and were beyond the jurisdiction of the court pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 34-9-84. In re Harvey, 356 Bankr. 557 (Bankr. S.D. Ga. 2006), aff'd, 536 F.3d 1239 (11th Cir. 2008).

Because the bankruptcy code allowed states to choose whether to use federal exemptions or state exemptions, because Georgia had opted out of the federal exemptions, because the State of Georgia had enacted a provision putting workers' compensation claims beyond a creditors' reach, and because this interpretation was consistent with the purpose of the statute and other states' implementation of similar statutes, the court determined that debtor's workers' compensation claims were beyond the reach of creditors in bankruptcy. In re Fullwood, 446 Bankr. 634 (Bankr. S.D. Ga. 2010).

Cited in West v. Standard Accident Ins. Co., 176 Ga. 54, 166 S.E. 761 (1932); West v. Standard Accident Ins. Co., 176 Ga. 755, 168 S.E. 766 (1933).

RESEARCH REFERENCES

Am. Jur. 2d.

- 82 Am. Jur. 2d, Workers' Compensation, §§ 460, 667 et seq.

C.J.S.

- 100 C.J.S., Workers' Compensation, §§ 840, 841.

ALR.

- Constitutionality of prohibition of assignment or release of claim under Workmen's Compensation Acts, 47 A.L.R. 799.

Claim for compensation or for assessments or premiums under Workmen's Compensation Act as provable in bankruptcy, 86 A.L.R. 770.

Debtor's exemption (other than homestead) as applicable in favor of nonresidents or of residents absent or about to remove from the state, 119 A.L.R. 554.

Survivability or assignability of claim for accrued and unpaid installments of public relief or pension benefits, 153 A.L.R. 810.

Validity, construction, and effect of statutory exemptions of proceeds of workers' compensation awards, 48 A.L.R.5th 473.

What constitutes state or local law that is applicable on date of filing of bankruptcy petition for purposes of applying 11 U.S.C.A. § 522(b)(3)(A) or its predecessor in opt-out states, 76 A.L.R. Fed. 2d 333.

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