Update to WCAB Procedures, Effective August 12, 2020

Division Workers Comp

DWC and WCAB Continue to Expand Hearing Schedule at the District Offices

Please note effective August 12, 2020, there are changes to the current emergency procedures for hearings at the WCAB:

  • The WCAB will continue to utilize a toll-free conference call system for all Expedited Hearings, Status Conferences, Mandatory Settlement Conferences, Priority Conferences, and case-in-chief Trials.  Also, the WCAB will continue to hear up to 3 lien conferences per judge per calendar session.
  • ALL parties must call into the judge’s conference call number at the start of the time of the hearing.  The conference call number and passwords for each judge are posted on the WCAB website at:  www.dir.ca.gov/dwc/DWC_address/DWC-judge-conference-lines.xlsx
  • On or about August 15, 2020, hearing notices should include the judge’s conference lines.
  • Beginning August 17, 2020, the WCAB will have a video option available for Trials and Expedited Hearings only. 
  • Parties must call in telephonically first and the judge can provide the link to log on.
  • This video option will be through a platform called LifeSize, which will be free to all parties.  However, parties must download the program and there will be certain minimum requirements to successfully run the software. 
  • A smartphone app can be used to participate, but this option is not recommended.
  • Instructions on the system requirements, where to download the program, and how to use the program can be found at:  https://www.dir.ca.gov/dwc/DWC_address/Lifesize-outside-user-guide.pdf
  • While Special Adjudication Unit (SAU) Lien Trials have begun, regular Lien Trials are still being continued at this time.  The WCAB anticipates adding Lien Trials back on calendar in the near future.
  • The WCAB will NOT hold in-person conferences or hearings.
  • Injured workers seeking assistance should contact the DWC call center at (909) 383-4522.

The procedure for filings with the WCAB remain the same – all documents must be e-filed or mailed, e-signatures will be accepted on all documents, and there will be no walk-throughs or in-person filings/requests. 

The official notice from the WCAB can be found at: https://www.dir.ca.gov/DIRNews/2020/2020-69.html

The procedure for filings with the WCAB will remain the same – all documents must be e-filed or mailed, e-signatures will be accepted on all documents, and there will be no walk-throughs or in-person filings/requests.  We will advise if there are any extensions to filing deadlines.

Our Thoughts

The ongoing COVID-19 crisis which has forced everyone to adapt to the realities of social distancing and we are happy to see the WCAB continue to show the flexibility necessary for all of us to effectively move our claims towards resolution.

There were discussions about having video hearings and trials available as the WCAB worked to set up the hardware and software necessary for the judges to have these options.  Now that this is a reality, we welcome this addition as cases can move forward quicker, especially certain Trials which require face-to-face interaction so the judges can evaluate for themselves the credibility of the witnesses.

While telephone option and the new video option are helpful, it is more effective for your attorneys to contact, discuss, and attempt to resolve any claims and disputes ahead of any hearing.  We at Adelson McLean continue to utilize our extensive contacts throughout the workers’ compensation community, leveraging our experience and familiarity with everyone involved to move cases towards resolution as quickly as possible. 

During this ongoing crisis, we continue to keep in close contact with our clients, employers and carriers, applicant’s and plaintiff’s counsels, lien claimants, and other defense law firms.  Using these contacts, we are successfully resolving discovery and legal disputes ahead of most hearing and continue to settle many claims during this pandemic crisis. 

Video depositions have gone forward without any issues and we have had several informal settlement conferences with various applicant’s firms, resolving multiple claims in a single session. 

If you would like for us to arrange an informal settlement conference with an applicant’s firm, please contact us as we’d be happy to facilitate this.  We have had sessions where multiple defense firms participated, as a courtesy to our clients who may have multiple claims among different firms, as we strongly believe the only good file is a closed file.

Please feel free to contact us if you should have any questions or comments.  Please continue to stay safe and stay healthy.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *