On March 22, 2023, the California Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board (WCAB) issued an En Banc ruling regarding the end of our state’s COVID-19 emergency. (Case No. MISC. NO. 268). Below, our California workers’ compensation defense lawyers highlight the essential things that you should know about the recent WCAB updated guidance regarding COVID-19 emergency workers’ compensation regulations in California.
Background: California’s COVID-19 State of Emergency is Over
On February 28, 2023, California Governor Gavin Newsom officially announced the end of our state’s COVID-19 state of emergency. The development came after the state witnessed a decline in infection rates, due in part to extensive vaccination campaigns, the implementation of public health measures, and continued research into the virus. The lifting of the state of emergency signaled a shift towards normalcy. The end of the state-of-emergency regulation has implications for workers’ compensation claims in California.
Three Key Things to Know About the Updated Guidance From the WCAB
In response to Governor Newsom’s official announcement of the end of California’s COVID-19 state of emergency, the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board (WCAB) issued a unanimous en banc update for workers’ compensation claims and appeals. An en banc ruling is a legal term that refers to a decision made by all the judges of an appellate court, rather than a smaller panel typically composed of three judges. This is done when a case involves a significant legal issue or when the court needs to resolve inconsistencies or conflicts in its prior rulings. Here are three key things that employers, claims administrators, and insurance companies should know:
- Witness Signatures Required for Compromise and Release Documents: With the end of the COVID-19 emergency, the WCAB has reinstated the requirement for witness signatures on Compromise and Release (C&R) documents. This ensures that the parties involved in the settlement have been properly identified and understand the terms of the agreement,
- Proper E-Filing is Required Again: An email may no longer be sufficient. As operations return to normal, the WCAB now mandates proper e-filing procedures for all parties. This means that all documents must be submitted electronically, following the established guidelines and formatting requirements. Compliance with these rules ensures efficient processing and helps maintain an organized, accessible case record for all parties involved.
- Walkthrough Hours Returning to Pre-COVID Normal: In response to the end of the COVID-19 emergency, the WCAB is resuming its pre-pandemic walkthrough hours, providing easier access to the Board for parties and their representatives. This restoration of normal hours allows for increased flexibility and convenience when addressing urgent matters, submitting documents, or scheduling hearings.
Consult With Our California Workers’ Compensation Defense Lawyers Right Away
At Yrulegui & Roberts, we are devoted to helping clients find the legal solutions that work best for their specific situation. If you have any questions or concerns about the WCAB’s updated workers’ compensation guidance, please do not hesitate to contact us today to set up your fully confidential consultation. We work proactively to best serve our clients.