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Workers' Compensation

California: Service in EAMS

Mahatma Gandhi once said, “The best way to find yourself, is to lose yourself in the service of others.”

Extrapolating on that maxim, the best way to lose your case, is to find yourself serving others in violation of EAMS service rules.

To make sure you are EAMS compliant, please review the three top tips for service of documents in EAMS.

Tip #1 – Serve Documents to Parties by Mail Unless Otherwise Agreed

Email v. Snail Mail: Many offices are going totally digital these days. Hence, they opt to receive service by EAMS in the form of email. Since EAMS gives parties a choice to be served by mail, FAX or email per Reg §10218, many parties assume they can service their documents on opposing counsel by email as well. But WCAB Reg §10505(b) says otherwise. It provides: “…service of any document shall be made by first-class mail or by an alternative method which is “limited to: (i) use of express (overnight) or priority mail; or (ii) use of a bona fide commercial delivery service...”

The only exception to this rule is when the receiving party has previously agreed to a form of service other than mail. See WCAB Reg §10505(g). It’s probably prudent to get that agreement in writing.

CD-ROM v. Paper document: Similarly, people in paperless offices prefer to serve documents in the form of a CD-ROM as opposed to serving paper documents. That is not specifically authorized by the current regulations. But what if the receiving party has agreed to receive the docs in that manner? In fact, some parties actually prefer to receive the docs in a CD-ROM format rather a paper format. That might be viable by written agreement, given the language of WCAB Reg §10505(g) which states, “By prior agreement of the parties or lien claimants, or where authorized or requested by the receiving party or lien claimant, service of any document may be made by methods other than the designated preferred method of service.”

Tip #2 – “Plus 5 Days for Mailing” Applies Even if it’s Not Mailed

If a document is served by FAX or email, when is service complete? CCP§1013(a) states that for service by mail, service is complete at time of deposit, plus 5 days for mailing within California. But what if service is not by mail? What if the parties choose service by FAX or email, does CCP§1013 still apply? Yes, it does.

Reg §10507 allows for five days for mailing even if the document is served by fax or e-mail. However, does the same rule apply if the document is personally served? No, Reg. §10507(a), is almost a carbon copy of CCP§1013 and both specify that the “plus five days for mailing” rule applies for any method except for personal service.

So if a judge hand-serves the parties an Order immediately after a hearing, the parties have 20 days, not 25 days to file a Petition for Reconsideration from that Order. (This shortened time limit is due to the fact that the Order was personally served on the parties and was not served by mail.)

Tip #3 – When to Use Separator Sheets for Proofs of Service

When you file a proof of service for one document, you do not need a separator sheet between the document and proof of service. However, if you are serving more than one document, and the proof of service reflects that, you do need a separator sheet between each document, including the proof of service.

It is not necessary to serve the cover sheet and separator sheet when you serve the related documents on the other parties in the case.

For additional rules on service, see WCAB Service Regs §§10500 (service by WCAB), 10505 (service by parties), 10507 (time limits), 10508 (extensions of time), and 10510.

Bonus Practice Tip–Filing Petitions for Reconsideration

BONUS PRACTICE TIP>>>  If you are filing a Petition for Reconsideration or a Petition Change of Venue, make sure that you select the correct “Document Title” on the “Document Separator Sheet.” And make sure that your caption includes the term “Petition.” Please do not refer to it as “Request for Reconsideration” or a “Request for Change of Venue.”

The correct designation of the “Document Title” on the “Document Separator Sheet” tells EAMS that this document must be sent immediately to a particular judge or presiding judge for review, in the form of a task for that judge. If the title is incorrectly selected the document will not be linked to a task for that judge, and review of the document may be delayed, as the judge will not know it exists.

This blog has been approved by the California Division of Workers' Compensation.

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