Grinberg: WCAB, Call Me!
Thursday, June 4, 2020 | 462 | 1 | min read
The Workers' Compensation Appeals Board announced last week that the telephonic appearance procedures will continue through the month of June. Electronic filing will continue as well.
The one notable exception is that the board will now allow up to three lien conferences per judge’s calendar session per day. Once those slots are filled up, the remaining lien conferences will be continued.
From my own experience, it looks like the hearings are becoming fairly streamlined. The attorneys appear to be getting pretty comfortable with appearing and addressing issues over the phone; the judges have been saint-like in their patience and flexibility to make the technology work; and there is a growing trend of preparing in advance of the actual hearing.
Will this become the norm? Will we limit board appearances to live testimony under oath and conduct all other hearings by phone?
If that’s the case, will we also see the pooling of judges statewide? Will we see impacted boards getting assistance for status conferences, and mandatory settlement conferences from boards with more availability?
The root of the necessity for these changes is unfortunate, of course. But, not unlike a cow kicking over a lantern and causing the need to modernize a city, perhaps this innovation will make practice and resolution of workers’ compensation faster, more efficient and, at least as to the litigation aspect, less costly.
What do you think? When we all feel comfortable drinking Coronas again, shall we return to the hustle and bustle of the WCAB? Or will we live out our nightmares of (telephonically) going to court in our underwear?
I am looking forward to what the future brings.
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.