Governor, Gavin Newsom, declared a state of emergency in response to the spread of the novel coronavirus, and issued Executive Order N-33-20 which required all Californians to stay home with certain limited exceptions.
The DWC temporarily closed the district offices for filing to protect the health and safety of staff and the community. The district offices reopened for filing effective April 13, 2020, but limited filings to e-filing via the Electronic Adjudication Management System (EAMS), JET filing or by mail. The DWC has continued to conduct hearings via teleconference or video, but does not currently permit filing of walk-through documents.
The California Department of Public Health issued a Regional Stay At Home Order applicable based on a region’s intensive care unit (ICU) capacity on December 3.
And as a result, the WCAB in it’s December 15, en bank decision, ordered suspension of WCAB Rule 10789(c) regarding the required timeframes for assignment of walk-through cases.This suspension is applicable to all district offices in the State.
This rule states that certain documents “may be submitted on a walk-through basis” including the following: (1) Compromise and Releases; (2) Stipulations with Request for Award; (3) Petitions for attorney’s fees for representation of the applicant at a deposition; (4) Petitions to compel attendance at a medical examination or deposition; and (5) Petitions for Costs pursuant to rule 10545.
The rule also provides that “Each district office shall have a designee of the presiding workers’ compensation judge available to assign walk-through cases from 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. on court days.”
The order of suspension of WCAB Rule 10789(c) will provide the district offices with the ability to schedule timeframes for walk-through of documents as appropriate for their capacity under these circumstances.
WCAB Rule 10789(a) is permissive and the documents that may be submitted on a walk-through basis may therefore be further restricted by the district offices at the discretion of the presiding workers’ compensation judges.
The presiding workers’ compensation judge has full responsibility for assignment of cases to the workers’ compensation judges in each district office. This includes the authority to decline to assign a document submitted on a walk-through basis.
The presiding workers’ compensation judges are empowered to prioritize which documents may be assigned on a walk-through basis to expedite resolution of claims and to account for limited capacity in their respective offices in determining whether to permit a document to be assigned as a walk-through.
This order will remain in effect until further notice.