In October, California Governor Gavin Newsom announced the “End the COVID-19 State of Emergency.” The proclamation comes as part of the state’s more comprehensive “SMARTER Plan” for dealing with the public health threat posed by the virus going forward. The lifting of the COVID-19 State of Emergency in California does have some implications for workers’ compensation claims. In this blog post, our Sacramento workers’ compensation defense lawyers explain the implications of the impending end of the COVID-19 emergency in California.
The Lifting of the COVID-19 Emergency: How it Will (and Will Not) Impact Workers’ Compensation
California was one of the first U.S. states to declare a State of Emergency related to the COVID-19 virus. That State of Emergency is set to expire on February 28, 2023, nearly three years after it was put into place. Here are four ways the official end of the COVID-19 public health emergency—at least for legal purposes—will and will not impact workers’ compensation claims in California:
- QME Deadlines (Change Expected): Under California workers’ compensation law, an initial appointment for a Qualified Medical Evaluator (QME) is supposed to occur within 60 days. During the COVID-19 emergency, that was extended to 90 days. Unless a new regulation is put in place, that is expected to revert to 60 days after the State of Emergency ends.
- Telehealth QME Evaluations (Change Expected): During the COVID-19 pandemic, California adopted emergency regulations that allowed for the relatively broad use of telehealth (telemedicine) QME evaluations. Those regulations are currently set to expire on January 18, 2023. Unless a change is made, the old rules are coming back. Telehealth will no longer be an option for QMEs.
- Remote Depositions (No Change Expected): Remote depositions for workers’ compensation cases are not going to change due to the end of the COVID-19 public health emergency. California lawmakers passed a bill to make remote depositions a permanent option, regardless of whether or not there is a declared public health emergency.
- WCAB Hearings (To Be Determined) California dramatically expanded the use of remote WCAB hearings during the COVID-19 pandemic. The future of remote WCAB hearings is still uncertain.
The End of the State of Emergency is Not Official Until It Happens
While California’s COVID-19 emergency is scheduled to end on February 28, 2023, it is important to emphasize that the lifting of these regulations is not official until it happens. A change in public health conditions could lead to another extension of the COVID-19 emergency.
Call Our Sacramento Workers’ Compensation Defense Attorney Today
At Yrulegui & Roberts, our Sacramento workers’ compensation defense lawyers are standing by, ready to work to protect your rights and interests. If you have any specific questions or concerns about defending a COVID-19-related workers’ compensation claim, we can help. Contact our law firm for a fully confidential, no strings attached case review. With a legal office in Sacramento, we provide workers’ compensation defense services in the San Joaquin Valley and throughout Central California.