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Industry Insights

Grinberg: WCAB: May I Have Your Autograph?

  • State: California

Aside from another storm getting ready to pound the Bay Area, there’s a smaller storm a-brewin’ in our beloved swamp of workers’ compensation.

Gregory Grinberg

Gregory Grinberg

The Workers' Compensation Appeals Board has issued an en banc opinion rescinding several emergency procedures put in place in light of the COVID-19 state of emergency in California.

The opinion was issued Wednesday, so presumably, it is effective as of that date and all compromises and releases executed previously are still safe. But, going forward, any C&Rs to be submitted to the WCAB and executed on or after March 22, 2023, must have witness signatures.

Specifically, the WCAB rescinded emergency Orders Misc. Nos. 260, 261 and 266. What are they?

Misc. No. 260 suspended Rule 10500(b)(6) requiring witness signatures on compromise and release documents.

Misc. No. 261 suspended Rule 10940(b) requiring e-filing (rather than emailing certain documents directly to the workers’ compensation judge).

Misc. No. 266 suspended Rule 10789(c), which established walkthrough hours (8-11 a.m. and 1-4 p.m.)

In light of this new en banc Order, when preparing a C&R, we now need to ensure we secure witness signatures; documents must again be properly e-filed; and walkthroughs, which are already in-person, may be conducted during the previously established hours. 

I sincerely hope this is not a sign that mandatory settlement conferences and status conferences will return to in-person, as the current system of remote hearings appears to be very effective, conserving resources for the parties and expediting resolution of disputes.

For the past three years, there have been many calls urging us to return to “normal.”  However, in my opinion, through the measures necessitated by COVID-19, we have discovered some procedures that are better than what used to be “normal.” 

Let our urge to escape the horrific effects of the COVID-19 epidemic not cause us to dismiss the lemonade we have produced from the lemons we’ve been given.

Gregory Grinberg is managing partner of Gale, Sutow & Associates’ S.F. Bay South office and a certified specialist in workers’ compensation law. This post is reprinted with permission from Grinberg’s WCDefenseCA blog.

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