SPECIAL REPORTEffective Jan. 1, 2022, the Workers' Compensation Appeals Board (WCAB) amended its Rule of Practice and Procedure to allow for remote hearings, electronic...
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On June 1, 2021, the 6th Appellate District Court of Appeal certified for publication its decision in Applied Materials et al. v. WCAB.
Because of the backlog of medical-legal evaluations caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Division of Workers' Compensation (DWC) adopted emergency regulations for medical-legal evaluations and reporting. The regulations became effective May 14, 2020, and originally were set to expire March 12, 2021. But they have been extended until Oct. 12, 2021.
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Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the WCAB district offices have stopped conducting in-person trials since March 16, 2020. Beginning May 4, 2020, the WCAB began hearing trials on the cases-in-chief via individually assigned judges’ conference lines.
Since March 2020, to protect the health and safety of staff and the community, the Division of Workers' Compensation (DWC) closed the district offices for in-person filing. The DWC has only allowed documents to be filed via EAMS, JET file or by mail.
On Dec. 15, 2020, the WCAB issued its seventh en banc decision regarding COVID-19, “In Re: COVID-19 State of Emergency En Banc –– NO. 7.” This decision suspends CCR 10789(c) which applies to the assignment of judges for walk-through cases. The effect of this is to grant the local district offices the flexibility to manage walk-throughs. This should allow the local district offices, when they are reopened for walk-throughs, to reestablish walk-throughs in a way that their available resources will allow.
On Oct. 27, 2020, the WCAB issued two en banc decisions reinstating specified rules that had been suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had significant financial consequences for many employers and employees. Due to the overall need to protect the public at large from the spread of COVID-19, the state of California and many local governments have issued stay-at-home orders, closing nonessential businesses or allowing them to remain open only if their employees could telecommute. Many businesses were forced to shut down during the stay-at-home orders, and many employees found themselves out of work.
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. Notably, effective Sept. 14, 2020, the DWC will resume holding lien trials.