(a) Subject to Code Section 34-9-82, a claim for compensation may be filed with the board at any time following an injury or death. The board and its administrative law judges shall have full authority to hear and determine all questions with respect to such claims.
(b) The board shall make or cause to be made any investigation or mediation it considers necessary and, upon its own motion or application of any interested party, order a hearing thereon and assign the claim to an administrative law judge for review. Furthermore, the board may direct the parties to participate in mediation conducted under the supervision and guidance of the board.
(c) Any application for hearing filed with the board pursuant to this Code section, on or after July 1, 1985, but prior to July 1, 2007, for which no hearing is conducted for a period of five years shall automatically stand dismissed.
(1) For injuries occurring on or after July 1, 2007, any claim filed with the board for which neither medical nor income benefits have been paid shall stand dismissed with prejudice by operation of law if no hearing has been held within five years of the alleged date of injury.
(2) This subsection shall not apply to a claim for an occupational disease as defined in Code Section 34-9-280.
(3) The form provided by the board for use in filing a workers’ compensation claim shall include notice of the provisions of this subsection.
(e) Any claim, notice, or appeal required by this chapter to be filed with the board shall be deemed filed on the earlier of:
(1) The date such claim or notice is actually received by the board; or
(2) The official postmark date such claim or notice was mailed to the board, properly addressed with postage prepaid, by registered or certified mail or statutory overnight delivery.