Workers' Compensation - Venue - Ex Parte Billy Barnes Enterprises
In Ex parte Billy Barnes Enterprises, [Ms. 2101158, Jan. 13. 2012] __ So. 3d __(Ala. Civ. App. 2012), the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals held that for the purposes of determining appropriate venue, a worker's compensation claim accrues at the time of the accident causing the injury. In that case, the plaintiff was injured on the job in January 2006. At the time, she lived in Washington County. She received medical payments and temporary-total-disability compensation until she reached maximum medical improvement in May 2009 (at which time she lived in Tallapoosa County). Defendant argued that the plaintiff's claim did not accrue until the date of her last payment of compensation, citing Ala. Code ¤ 25-5-80 ("Where, however, payments of compensation, as distinguished from medical or vocational payments, have been made in any case, the period of limitation shall not begin to run until the time of making the last payment."). The Alabama Court of Civil Appeals disagreed, holding that the last sentence of ¤ 25-5-80 "does not define when a claim accrues, but provides for the running of the statutory limitations period to be tolled, despite the fact that the claim has accrued" (emphasis in original). Because it was undisputed that the plaintiff lived in Washington County at the time the claim accrued (i.e., on the date of the accident), the fact that she moved to a different county before she filed her worker's compensation claim made no difference in the determination of the proper venue.