Claimant appeals a ruling by the deputy director and State Board of Workmen's Compensation and the superior court that his claim for workmen's compensation be denied for claimant's failure to give timely notice of accident as required by Code 114-303 and to file a claim within one year thereafter as required by Code 114-305.
Claimant aggravated a prior back injury when, on June 23, 1971, he ran "flat-footed" across a highway to help an injured fellow employee. During the subsequent eight months claimant was hospitalized twice for operations on his back, and was able to work only intermittently until February, 1972, when he returned to work permanently. However, due to back pain, he could no longer continue work and left the job on October 9, 1972. Claimant's testimony that he notified various supervisors of his employer of the June 23 injury, is directly contradicted by those supervisors. However, the evidence is undisputed that on October 9, 1972, claimant told his foreman, J. C. Yarborough, that he would have to quit work because "his back bothered him again" and required another operation. Claimant filed his claim on May 7, 1973.
Claimant contends that the bending, twisting and climbing that was a part of his job as a lineman were continuous "microtraumas" to his back causing gradual deterioration of certain vertebrae which were already weakened by a previous injury and operation in 1961. This aggravation he contends is a "new injury" which did not accrue until it forced him to quit work in October, 1972. On that date, he contends, sufficient notice was given to meet the requirements of Code 114-303 and that date is the commencement of the one-year period for filing his claim under Code 114-305. Held:
1. An award by the State Board of Workmen's Compensation will not be disturbed if there is any competent evidence to support it. Dollar v. Hunt's Supermarket, 132 Ga. App. 5 (207 SE2d 208)
; Pearce v. Pacific Employers Ins. Group, 131 Ga. App. 792 (207 SE2d 207)
; Davidson v. Fidelity & Cas. Co. of New York, 108 Ga. App. 51
, 52 (131 SE2d 863
). Particularly, matters of weight and credit of the testimony and conflicts in the evidence are solely matters for determination by the board. Brown Transport Corp. v. Jenkins, 129 Ga. App. 457 (1) (199 SE2d 910)
; Travelers Ins. Co. v. Buice, 124 Ga. App. 626 (185 SE2d 549)
; Roper v. General Motors Corp., 121 Ga. App. 163 (173 SE2d 240)
. Here, even though claimant testified that he told three of employer's supervisors about re-injury of his back within a few days after June 23, 1971, all three of these supervisors denied being so told. Therefore, if the injury for which claimant seeks compensation occurred on June 23, 1971, there is evidence to support the finding that claimant did not give timely notice as required by Code 114-303.
2. If, however, claimant's claim is based on a gradual injury caused by deterioration of his back due to daily work activities, there is authority in Georgia that such injury is compensable. Mallory v. American Cas. Co., 116 Ga. App. 477 (157 SE2d 775)
; Mallory v. American Cas. Co., 114 Ga. App. 641 (4) (152 SE2d 592)
; Employers Liab. Ins. Co. v. Shipman, 108 Ga. App. 184 (132 SE2d 568)
; Shipman v. Employers Mut. Liab. his. Co., 105 Ga. App. 487 (125 SE2d 72)
. A question in those cases is on what date the gradual injury became an "accident" for which notice is required and the time period for filing begins to run. Where the evidence authorizes it, the date of the accident has been found to be the date the employee is required to cease work. Nevertheless, even if the date of injury were found to be the date of cessation of work, as contended by claimant here, the employee is required to give notice that his reason for ceasing work is because of a job-related injury. "Obviously, the notice required [by Code 114-303] is notice of an injury by accident arising out of and in the course of the employment, and mere notice that an employee is suffering an injury from an accident does not meet the requirement of the statute." Royal Indemnity Co. v. Coulter, 213 Ga. 277
, 279 (98 SE2d 899
). See also Hoard v. Phoenix Assur. Co., 117 Ga. App. 383 (160 SE2d 621)
; Mallory v. American Cas. Co., 116 Ga. App. 477
, supra; Snyder v. Employers Mut. Liab. Ins. Co., 115 Ga. App. 111 (153 SE2d 736)
Steven E. Marcus, for appellees.