(A) Practice of Law.
(1) Attorneys Entitled to Practice before the Board: Rule 1-203 of the Rules and Regulations for the Organization and Government of the State Bar of Georgia, as now in effect or as hereinafter amended, is controlling as to the practice of law before the Board and its Administrative Law Judges.
(2) Any ex parte communication, including electronic mail, with an Administrative Law Judge or the Board in a pending claim is prohibited.
(4) On all filings with the Board, attorneys shall place their Georgia bar number. In addition, no attorney shall submit any form that has been discontinued or altered. A violation of this rule may result in the rejection of the filing with the Board, and/or the imposition of a civil penalty under O.C.G.A. § 34-9-18.
(5) Service upon a party or attorney of any form, document, or other correspondence shall be by electronic mail. Whenever electronic mail is not available, service shall be by U.S. Mail.
(B) Reporting Requirements:
(1) The address of record of an employee shall be that address shown on the most recent document filed with the Board.
(2) A party shall provide notice to the Board of the intent to obtain legal representation and the name of its legal representative, if any, within 21 days from the date of the hearing notice, subject to an assessment of penalties for failure to comply.
(3) The address of record of an employer shall be the address shown on the Form WC-1, the address on file with a Licensed Rating Organization filed by the insurer on behalf of the employer, or the principal office of the employer within the State of Georgia.
(4) Any party requesting a hearing shall furnish the correct name and current address of the employee, the employer, and the insurer/self insurer and third party administrator at the time the hearing is requested.
(5) An attorney who represents a party other than an employee or a claimant in a contested matter must file a notice of representation on a Form WC-102B with the Board, and must serve a copy on all counsel and unrepresented parties.
(6) An attorney who represents an employee or claimant in a contested matter shall file a fee contract as notice of representation and must serve a copy on all counsel and unrepresented parties. The contract must be dated, conform to Rule 108, and both the attorney and the client must sign the contract.
(C) Postponements, Leaves of Absence, and Legal Conflicts:
(a) Postponement: If a hearing is on a calendar for the first time, and if all parties agree to postpone it to be rescheduled, they may obtain the postponement without consulting the Administrative Law Judge before whom it is scheduled, absent prior specific instructions from the judge to the contrary. This agreement must be communicated to the judge no later than 4:30 p.m. of the business day immediately preceding the hearing by the party who requested the hearing, or by any other party by agreement. Otherwise and generally, a hearing shall be postponed only upon strict legal grounds, or at the discretion of the Board or an Administrative Law Judge. For a case that has already been postponed, a second or subsequent request by counsel to postpone the case from a calendar must be made no later than 4:30 p.m. on the business day immediately before the scheduled hearing, and the request must be approved by the Administrative Law Judge. For a case to be removed from the calendar with no reset, this notification, as with a postponement request, must be made no later than 4:30 p.m. on the business day immediately before the scheduled hearing. If the judge determines that the case is not ready for trial at this time, the claim may be removed from the calendar, not to be reset until the parties certify that discovery is complete and the case is ready to be tried.
(b) Whenever the pending hearing issues resolve or a case settles prior to a scheduled hearing date, the parties or attorneys shall immediately notify the Board or assigned Administrative Law Judge:
(1) first, by telephone call; and
(2) if so instructed by the Trial Division, by subsequent written or electronic confirmation.
(c) Any party or attorney who fails to follow the cancellation, postponement, or rescheduling procedures as outlined above in sections (C)(1)(a) & (b), and who is unable to show good cause for such failure, may be subject to civil penalties, assessed attorney’s fees, and/or costs, including but not limited to the cost of the court reporter.
(2) Leave of absence. In the event that an attorney wishes to obtain a leave of absence from the Board, the request should be submitted on a Form WC-102C and mailed to the Atlanta office of the State Board of Workers’ Compensation or filed on-line via ICMS. The granting of a leave of absence will not apply to cases already calendared on the date the leave is signed, and will apply only to court appearances and mediations. In the event that leave is requested for a date already calendared, the attorney must request a postponement from the Administrative Law Judge, with permission of opposing counsel or by conference call, prior to the hearing or mediation.
(3) For the purpose of resolving requests for continuance based upon legal conflict, Rule 17.1(B)(4) of the Uniform Rules of the Superior Courts shall apply. A conflict letter shall be served upon opposing counsel and unrepresented parties no later than seven days prior to the date of conflict but shall not be filed with the Board unless or until such conflict letter is requested by an Administrative Law Judge or the Board. The action which was first filed shall take precedence, subject to judicial discretion.
(D) Motions and Interlocutory Orders Pending a Hearing:
(a) All motions and objections shall be made on Form WC-102D, with the exceptions of motion for reconsideration and request for a change of physician/additional medical treatment under Board Rule 200(b)(1). Motions and objections, including briefs and exhibits, shall be limited to 50 pages, unless otherwise approved by an Administrative Law Judge or the Board. When attaching documents as evidence to motions and objections, do not use tabs to separate documents. Any party or attorney filing a motion or objection shall also serve a copy on all counsel and unrepresented parties, along with supporting documents, including a separate certificate of service identifying the names and addresses served.
(b) When filing a motion for reconsideration, the parties or attorneys shall:
(1) immediately notify the Board or assigned Administrative Law Judge by telephone call;
(2) use the ICMS doc-type labeled motion for reconsideration;
(3) limit their motion to 20 pages, including briefs and exhibits, unless otherwise permitted by the Board or an Administrative Law Judge; and
(4) serve a copy on all counsel and unrepresented parties, along with supporting documents, including a separate certificate of service identifying the names and addresses served.
(2) Prior to filing a motion, including requests for documents made pursuant to Rule 102(F)(1), the moving party shall confer with the opposing party, or counsel if the party is represented, in a good-faith effort to resolve the matters involved.
(3) A party objecting to a motion shall respond on a Form WC-102D, which must be filed with the Board within 15 days of the date of the certificate of service on the request, and shall serve a copy on all counsel and unrepresented parties.
(4) Whenever the pending issues resolve, in whole or in part, in a motion, the parties or attorneys shall immediately notify the Board or assigned Administrative Law Judge: (1) first, by telephone call; and (2) if so instructed, by subsequent written or electronic confirmation. Any party or attorney who fails to follow this procedure, and who is unable to show good cause for such failure, may be subject to civil penalties and/or assessed attorney’s fees.
(5) An Administrative Law Judge may issue an interlocutory order suspending or reinstating payment of weekly benefits to an employee pending an evidentiary hearing.
(6) Where the issue is which of two or more employer/insurers is liable, the Administrative Law Judge or the Board may issue an interlocutory order directing the employer or one of the insurers to pay weekly benefits and medical expenses until the determination of liability of an insurer has been made. Reimbursement may thereafter be ordered where appropriate.
(E) Conduct of Hearings:
(1) No person shall, during the course of a proceeding before an Administrative Law Judge or Director, engage in any discourteous or disruptive conduct.
(2) Any violation of the Georgia Rules of Professional Conduct of the State Bar of Georgia may subject an attorney to the assessment of a civil penalty pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 34-9-18 and referral to the State Bar of Georgia for disciplinary action.
(a) Prior to the commencement of a hearing, the parties shall consolidate any and all records, including but not limited to medical records, and any other documentary evidence to be admitted at a hearing in order to avoid any repetition and duplication.
(b) All medical evidence regarding the treatment, testing or evaluation of the claimant for the accident which is the subject of the hearing should be exchanged between the parties as soon as practicable, but no later than ten days prior to the hearing, and all depositions should be completed prior to the hearing. Failure to exchange such evidence within ten days of a hearing may, in the discretion of the Administrative Law Judge or the Board, result in:
(1) the imposition of civil penalties,
(2) award of assessed attorney fees,
(3) a continuance,
(4) award of costs,
(5) award of witnesses fees and expenses, and/or
(6) in limited circumstances, the exclusion of evidence at the hearing.
(c) If the amount of the average weekly wage is in dispute, counsel shall exchange written contentions with respect to their methods of calculation at least ten days prior to the hearing, and shall present the written contentions to the Administrative Law Judge at the commencement of the hearing.
(d) If accompanied by an affidavit, a written laboratory test result report is admissible into evidence for purposes of authenticity only. Any other evidentiary objections can be raised by the parties in motions or at evidentiary hearings.
(e) Any challenge to the testimony of an expert under O.C.G.A. § 24-9-67.1 shall be made not later than 15 days prior to the hearing. Failure to raise a timely challenge shall result in waiver of the challenge unless otherwise agreed to by the attorneys and the Administrative Law Judge.
(4) Parties may be allowed to make arguments either by the filing of briefs within the time set by the Administrative Law Judge at the hearing, by oral argument at the conclusion of the presentation of evidence at the hearing, or both. Oral argument shall be limited to five minutes for each party. Briefs shall be limited to 30 pages, unless otherwise approved by an administrative law judge or the Board.
(5) It is the policy of the Board to encourage the parties to close the record at the conclusion of the hearing. The parties are expected to make diligent efforts to present all the evidence at the hearing, without the need for the record to remain open.
(6) Hearing Transcript: Any Administrative Law Judge is authorized to relieve the court reporter of the duty of transcribing the record of proceedings. The record shall be transcribed and submitted to the Board or the superior court if there is an application for review of an appeal. The appellant shall serve a copy of the application for review or appeal on the court reporter at the same time it is served on all other persons.
(7) Notices of hearing may be sent by electronic mail to the parties and attorneys of record. Whenever electronic transmission is not available, a notice of hearing will be sent by U.S. Mail.
(F) Discovery and Submission of Evidence:
(1) Prior or subsequent to a request for hearing being filed in a claim, the parties shall be entitled to receive from each other without cost the documents specified in Form WC-102. These documents shall be provided within 30 days of the date of the certificate of service, subject to an assessment of penalties for failure to comply. Neither the request nor response shall be filed with the Board.
(2) Discovery filed pursuant to the Civil Practice Act shall only be permitted after a hearing has been requested in the claim, or as otherwise specified in these rules.
(3) Discovery documents, including but not limited to depositions, interrogatories, and notices to produce, shall not be filed with the Board until such time as they are tendered in evidence in a proceeding before the Board. Correspondence between the parties shall not be filed with the Board.
(4) All documents, transcripts, exhibits, and other papers filed with the State Board of Workers’ Compensation shall be submitted on 8- 1/2 by 11 inch paper only. Sufficient space shall be left at the top of all documents (at least one and one-half inches) so that all information will remain readable after the documents have been filed. Copies of items offered in evidence at a hearing must be properly identified and tendered to opposing parties at the hearing. When submitting any documents as evidence, do not use tabs to separate documents.
(G) Written Responses: The filing of all written responses will be governed in accordance with O.C.G.A. § 9-11-6(e).