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The Division of Workers’ Compensation and the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board have released the 2013 Revision of the DWC/WCAB Policy and Procedure Manual. The revisions became effective on March 8, 2013. “This manual consists of policies and procedures that DWC/WCAB employees are required to follow and to assist the DWC and the WCAB in providing uniformity and direction to its employees in the day-to-day operation of the Board and its district offices.” Because the manual is an internal employee guide, prepared under the authority of the DWC Administrative Director and the WCAB Chairwoman, it is not subject to regulations, which require formal rulemaking procedures and public hearings.
Many of the manual’s sections have been amended, and new sections have been added.
Amended sections are clearly identified as such by stating that they have been issued by Ronnie G. Caplane, Chairwoman of the WCAB, and Destie Overpeck, Acting Administrative Director of the DWC, and by indicating the date on which they were amended.
Some amendments are merely technical, such as removals of references to the Court Administrator, an office that has been abolished.
Others are substantive and often more elaborate, including the following:
Section1.25, Walk-Throughs, formerly one brief paragraph, but now several paragraphs covering topics such as: specification of the district office in which walk-through documents may be filed; what documents may be filed as walk-throughs; walk-through settlements; settlements signed by a non-attorney employee of a law firm; limit on the number of walk-through documents that may be presented per court day; and prohibition against interpreters or other “independent contractors” obtaining hearing dates.
The first sentence of Section 1.30, Calendar Clerk Cancellation of Hearing, has been amended to read: “When a workers’ compensation judge (WCJ) orders the cancellation of a hearing prior to the date of hearing, the WCJ or the WCJ’s secretary shall ensure the hearing is cancelled in EAMS.” [emphasis in the section]
Section 1.35, Trial Priorities, has been amended by adding cases set for expedited hearing to the list of cases subject to priority hearing and placing such cases first in that list.
Section 1.40, Filing and Organization of Trial Exhibits—Evidence, Hospital and Medical Records, has been substantially expanded to contain specific instructions regarding the filing and retention of medical records, with references to WCAB Rule 10629. The requirement of a detailed exhibit list that identifies each specific exhibit by name, author and date is intended to facilitate review of the evidentiary record by the WCJ and the Appeals Board Commissioners, and is necessitated by the limitations of the EAMS Filenet system.
Section 1.50, Procedures Following Submission of Formal Rating Instructions, has been amended, consistent with the Appeals Board’s en banc opinion in Blackledge v. Bank of America (2010) 75 CCC 613 [75 CCC 613], to ensure the integrity of the WCJ’s decision making process.
Section 1.55, Taking Cases Off Calendar and Submissions, has been amended in various respects, including the addition of specific instructions as to the forms of orders of submission.
Among the amendments to Section 1.60, Procedures for Petitions for Reconsideration, are new provisions concerning petitions for reconsideration of Appeals Board decisions.
Section 1.85, Report of Workers’ Compensation Judge on Disqualification, has been amended to provide, inter alia, that the filing of a petition to disqualify a WCJ does not terminate a WCJ’s authority to proceed in a case.
Section 1.120, Appearance by Non-Attorney Representatives, has been amended to provide that no fee for legal services is to be awarded to any representative who is not an attorney, and that an attorney who has been disbarred, suspended, declared involuntarily inactive, or who have resigned with charged pending by the State Bar is not allowed to appear before the Appeals Board.
New sections include:
An alphabetical listing of Subjects covered, indexed to the relevant section numbers, has been added for users’ convenience.
DWC and WCAB state that this manual is not a final document, and that the AD and the WCAB will entertain suggestions for additional sections or revisions of existing sections.
The revised manual may be accessed here.
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