DWC/WCAB Expand Hearing Options

Effective September 14

On Sept. 9, 2020, the Division of Workers’ Compensation (DWC) and the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board (WCAB) announced changes to the upcoming hearing schedule at district offices.[1] Notably, effective Sept. 14, 2020, the DWC will resume holding lien trials.

Updated Hearing Procedures Starting Sept. 14

The DWC will continue to hear all mandatory settlement conferences, priority conferences, status conferences, case-in-chief trials, lien conferences and expedited hearings telephonically via the individually assigned judges’ conference lines as previously announced.

Beginning Sept. 14, the DWC will resume holding lien trials. Initially, lien trials will be limited to one per judge per day. Parties will continue to use individually assigned judges’ conference lines on the day of trial. However, judges will have the option of conducting any trial or expedited hearing through the judge’s LifeSize virtual courtroom if needed. If that is required, the judge will provide a link to the parties allowing them to log into the video platform.

The DWC advises stakeholders to download the software prior to a hearing in which a video option may become necessary. Neither the DWC nor Lifesize will charge to use the platform, but there are certain system requirements to enable full participation in the video option, including a web camera. Participants without access to a web camera may use a smartphone with the program, although it’s not recommended. Additional information about Lifesize and how to use the program may be found on the DWC website.[2]

At the designated time listed on the hearing notice, all parties should call the conference line for the judge in front of whom the case is set. When prompted, the parties should enter the access code assigned to that line. DWC staff will instruct participants as to the procedure to follow during the call.

District offices will not hold in-person hearings.

Continuing Filing Procedures

The DWC is still not accepting walk-in filings, walk-through documents or in-person requests. It will accept electronic filing only via EAMS and JET File, and paper filing by U.S. mail.

The DWC will accept limited email filings pursuant to the WCAB’s en banc decision dated April 6[3] and its newsline issued April 23.[4] Email filings are limited to documents that are subject to a statute of limitations that cannot otherwise be efiled, JET filed or filed by U.S. mail.

The DWC will continue to accept an electronic signature on any settlement documents, applications, pleadings, petitions or motions that are sent to the district offices or filed in EAMS. For all e-forms, parties should utilize the “S signature” as shown in the e-forms filing reference guide and the JET File Business Rules.[5]

Injured workers who are unable to file via the available options or need assistance may contact DWC’s call center at 909-383-4522.

The WCAB office in San Francisco is operating with limited in-office staff. The WCAB commissioners and staff continue to work remotely.

 

  1. The DWC’s Newsline of Sept. 9, 2020 is available at: https://www.dir.ca.gov/DIRNews/2020/2020-77.html.
  2. Information related to using Lifesize is available at: https://www.dir.ca.gov/dwc/.
  3. Available at: https://www.dir.ca.gov/wcab/EnBancdecisions2020/COVID-19-April2020.pdf.
  4. Available at: https://www.dir.ca.gov/DIRNews/2020/2020-32.html.
  5. These are available at: https://www.dir.ca.gov/dwc/eams/eams.htm.