2014 Georgia Code
Title 34 - LABOR AND INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS
APPENDIX: RULES AND REGULATIONS OF THE STATE BOARD OF WORKERS' COMPENSATION
§ 108 - Attorney's Fees
The attorney's fee shall not exceed 400 weeks of income benefits and may be terminated or suspended sooner as provided by law or at the Board's discretion. The Board may, in its discretion, approve an attorney's fee for a period of greater than 400 weeks so long as the attorney fee is not in excess of 25% of the claimant's weekly benefits.
(a) Attorney fee contracts. Immediately upon being employed by an employee or claimant in a matter which is before the Board, the attorney shall file a contract of employment and fees with the Board. This contract shall include the following attorney typed information: (1) name, (2) bar number, (3) firm name, (4) address, (5) phone number, (6) fax number, (7) email address, and (8) Board claim number. If the Board claim number is not known, this contract shall include the employee's first name, last name, social security number, and date of injury. Finally, all contracts shall include the employee's name and address. This contract shall be dated, and shall be signed by both the attorney and the client, and shall include the following statement with respect to an accident occurring on or after July 1, 1992: This contract is subject to the approval of the State Board of Workers' Compensation, and no fee of more than $100.00 shall be paid under the contract unless approved by the Board. No contract shall be filed with the Board which provides for a fee greater than 25 percent of the recovery of weekly benefits. Any contract with these terms, absent compelling evidence to the contrary, shall be deemed to represent the reasonable fee of the attorney. No party or any party's attorney shall enter into a loan or assignment with a third party creditor which requires repayment from the proceeds of a workers' compensation claim. With respect to an accident occurring before July 1, 1992, the contract shall include the following statement: This contract is subject to the approval of the State Board of Workers' Compensation, and no fee of more than $100.00 shall be paid under the contract unless approved by the Board. No contract concerning an accident occurring before July 1, 1992, shall be filed with the Board which provides for a fee greater than 25 percent of the recovery of weekly benefits without a hearing, 30 percent of the recovery of weekly benefits with extensive discovery preparatory for a hearing, and 33-1/3 percent of the recovery of weekly benefits after a hearing. Any contract with these terms, absent compelling evidence to the contrary, shall be deemed to represent the reasonable fee of the attorney. No party or any party's attorney shall enter into a loan or assignment with a third party creditor which requires repayment from the proceeds of a workers' compensation claim. An attorney who requests approval of his or her fee contract when there is no pending litigation shall file with the Board Form WC-108a. When an attorney requests approval of his or her fee contract after a hearing notice has been issued and after the dispute has been resolved, that attorney shall file Form WC-108a with the Administrative Law Judge who issued the hearing notice.
(b) (1) The value of the services of the attorney may be agreed upon by the parties subject to approval of the Board.
(2) Any offer to make payment if the party waives a claim for attorney's fees under paragraph (2) or (3) of subsection (b) of O.C.G.A. § 34-9-108, or any agreement to waive a claim for attorney's fees as a condition to payment of income or medical benefits, where the only consideration for such waiver is the commencement of income or medical benefits, shall be void ab initio.
(3) No party shall be required to pay an attorney for services for which the fee was assessed against the opposing party. The Board, if deemed appropriate, may approve an attorney's fee which combines fees assessed against an opposing party and fees paid pursuant to approval of an attorney fee contract, provided that the claimant receives a credit for the assessed fee.
(4) An attorney advertising to render services to a potential workers' compensation claimant must intend to render said services and shall not divide a fee with another attorney who is not a partner in or associate of his or her law firm unless: 1. The client consents to associating the other attorney after full disclosure that the fee will be divided; and, 2. The fee division is made in direct proportion to the services and responsibility performed and assumed by each attorney; and, 3. The total fee of the attorneys shall not exceed a reasonable fee for the claim. No party shall be required to pay for the services of an attorney who violates the provisions of O.C.G.A. § 34-9-108(c).
(5) Upon assessing attorney's fees, costs may be assessed against the offending party which are payable to the Board in an amount not less than $250.00. The Administrative Law Judge may assess higher costs based on the length of the hearing, time traveled, and time lost from other duties. In any case where a determination is made that proceedings have been brought, prosecuted, or defended in whole or in part without reasonable grounds, the Administrative Law Judge or the Board may, in addition to assessed attorney's fees, award to the adverse party reasonable litigation expenses, in whole or in part, against the offending party. Reasonable litigation expenses under this subsection are limited to witness fees and mileage pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 24-10-24 (24-13-24 effective 1/1/13); reasonable expert witness fees (subject to the Fee Schedule, where applicable); reasonable deposition costs; and the cost of the hearing transcript.
(6) When requesting payment of attorney's fees at a hearing pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 34-9-108, the party making the request shall be required to demonstrate the reasonableness of the attorney's fees requested by placing into the record expert testimony as to the value of services rendered. Counsel may testify personally or in affidavit form at the hearing, subject to cross-examination, as to expert status and the reasonable value of the services rendered in order to meet this requirement. No attorney's fees will be awarded pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 34-9-108 absent this evidence being placed in the record.
(7) When the parties agree to an assessment of attorney's fees, any attorney of record may file with the Board a Form WC-108a, serve a copy on all parties or their counsel, and sign the certificate of service on the form.
(8) An attorney shall not receive an attorney's fee on any medical treatment or expenses required for an employee, unless such fee is assessed under O.C.G.A. § 34-9-108(b)(1).
(9) The Board shall not approve a percentage of the claimant's weekly benefits as an attorney fee unless the attorney sufficiently shows that the payment of weekly benefits is the result of the attorney's efforts.
(10) If an attorney obtains the "catastrophic" designation for a claim under O.C.G.A. § 34-9-200.1(g), reinstates income benefits after a unilateral reduction under O.C.G.A. § 34-9-104(a)(2), and/or prevents a change in condition, then, upon request, the Board may approve the attorney's fee contract to commence at such time as the benefit accrues to the claimant and if deemed appropriate by the Board.
(c) Solicitation of Services. See O.C.G.A. §§ 34-9-22, 34-9-30, 34-9-31 and 34-9-32.
(d) An attorney who has made an appearance by filing Form WC-14 or Form 102B or by filing a fee contract and who wishes to withdraw as counsel for any party therein, shall file a Form WC-108b with the Board and serve a copy on all counsel an unrepresented parties, including the former client.
(e) An attorney of record who chooses to file a lien for services and/or expenses must do so by filing written notice of the contended value of such services and/or expenses with the Board on Form WC-108b within 20 days after (i) withdrawal from the case, or (ii) notice of termination of the contract in writing by the client. The attorney of record filing a lien shall serve a copy of Form WC-108b on all unrepresented parties and counsel. Failure to attach supporting documentation will result in the lien being denied. If the Board includes the issue of approval of the lien for determination at a hearing or mediation, and the attorney who filed the lien fails to appear and present evidence in support of the lien, then it shall be void. If all parties agree to resolution of a lien request prior to the initiation of litigation, then one of them must file with the Board Form WC-108b. Failure to perfect a lien in this manner will be considered a waiver of further attorneys' fees.
(f) No attorney shall charge to any client as an expense of litigation any portion of any referral fee or membership charged by any lawyer referral service, or nonspecific office costs.
Disclaimer: These codes may not be the most recent version. Georgia may have more current or accurate information. We make no warranties or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained on this site or the information linked to on the state site. Please check official sources.