Easing into EAMS

Easing into EAMS

I. Overview of the System

DWC is entering the digital age. The Electronic Adjudication Management System (EAMS) will allow us to switch from paper to paperless in a gradual three-step process.
 
  • Phase 1 - Creation of the EAMS system
  • Phase 2 - Internal use by DWC employees
  • Phase 3 - External use by the entire community
EAMS is built and ready to go. Phase 2 of the process has begun. Over the next several months, DWC employees will undergo extensive innovative training on use of the new system. The district offices will remain open during this period and will handle a reduced calendar. At least one WCALJ will be available at each office to conduct a scaled back version of DWC business. Training will be completed by August 25, 2008 and EAMS will "go live" internally, allowing all DWC employees to make full use of their new program.
 
External users (the workers compensation community) will continue to use paper documents and will be phased in gradually over time. Although external users won't immediately be phased into the full electronic filing environment, DWC's internal go-live will impact external users in a number of ways.
 
II. New Regulations
 
New regulations are currently in development to help users navigate EAMS. Most of the regs look just like their former counterparts, except they've been modified for use with computers. For instance, the new "walk through" reg (8 CCR §10280) looks very similar to the old "walk through" reg (8 CCR §10890), but there is now a distinction between a "case opening" settlement document and a walk through document in a case that has already been opened.
 
During Phase 2, it will be a two-day process to walk through a "case opening" document. A party will hand-deliver to the district office, a "case opening" walk-through petition, by noon on the day before their walk-through, to allow time for staff to scan the papers into the system and to set up the file on line. The next day, the party will proceed directly to the assigned walk-through judge for processing of their request.
 
For a walk through document in a case that has already been opened, it will be a one-day process. The party shall file the document "directly with the WCALJ at the date and time of the walk-through." (8 CCR §10280) In both cases, the moving party must notify all other parties of the date and time of the walk-through by email or FAX no later than noon, three court days prior to the walk-through. This will give all parties notice and the opportunity to object to the walk-through document.
 
Another reg, "Form and Size Requirements for Filing Documents" went from two paragraphs (8 CCR §10392), to two pages, (8 CCR §10232). In the olden days, as long as the document was on paper, rather than carved stone, it worked. Scanning machines are a lot more picky. They require black ink, print in font that has feet (serif font) and is at least 12 points in size. It's nothing new, really. Every other court in the state has been mandating this for years. Even so, handwritten documents will be allowed for unrepresented parties.
 
III. New Optical Character Recognition (OCR) Forms
 
In Phase 2, when DWC goes live with EAMS internally, the majority of the community will continue to file on paper, but will use the new forms. The new forms range from initial "cover sheets" to new "Compromise & Release Agreements." They are similar to the old forms, but with supermarket-like bar codes that employ optical character recognition (OCR). OCR formatting, along with the use of cover sheets and separator sheets, allows the forms to be recognized by EAMS and to be properly indexed within the electronic file.
 
The OCR forms will be accessed from the DWC Web site (www.dwc.ca.gov) and will be mandatory when the regulations become final. Because use of the OCR forms is a vital part of creating a case in EAMS, the division is counting on the workers' comp community to use the new forms beginning August 25, 2008, the date of the internal go-live.
 
Parties will complete the OCR forms on their own computers (or by hand for unrepresented parties) and will file the documents on paper at their local district office. A DWC employee will then scan the paper forms into the system, which will allow DWC personnel (judges, rehab counselors, I&A, DEU raters, etc.) to use the documents in the digital format.
 
The workers' compensation community breathed a collective sigh of relief when they found out that the online forms would be compatible with their current database programs. No need to rush out and buy a whole new software package to use EAMS. All you need is a computer and access to the Internet.
 
 IV. A New & Improved Way to Litigate
 
Scanned DORs will trigger conference and expedited hearing dates and notices will be served on parties in the manner of their choice, snail mail, FAX or email.
 
Trial dates will be selected manually at the conference, in much the same way as they are selected now, except that a computer will be used, instead of that massive Gregorian Age calendaring book. During this interim Phase 2 period, trials will be conducted in a hybrid format, whereby Judges will use a digital version of EAMS, while the parties will still use their paper files.
 
The new system will look a lot like the old system, except that it will be based on computers, rather than paper, saving the environment, time, space and money for everyone.
                                         

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

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Comments

Colleen Casey
  • 05-06-2008

When will the public be allowed to comment on the walk-through process?

Colleen Casey
  • 05-06-2008

The public may comment on all proposed regulations, including the walk-through process, either during the formal comment period or at the public hearings, which have not yet been scheduled. 1D<BR><BR> <BR>

Colleen Casey
  • 07-10-2008

Once scanned to a computer at a law firm, will one be able to simply email the pdf to the court?

To what interface, technically, will we be sending the scanned image from our law firm towards DWC?  (should it be sent to an email address?  an ftp site? an ip address?)  will this need user name and password authentication?

Colleen Casey
  • 07-15-2008

You will not be able to email scanned documents to the court. Remember, currently there are only two ways to get forms and documents into EAMS: OCR forms or e-forms. If you''re using the OCR paper forms you will bring or mail your file to the district office and the district office staff will scan your filing into EAMS. If you use e-forms, which will be available once your firm has a log-on and password, you will submit scanned documents as attachments to the e-form. Once the e-form is filled out on line, you attach the document to the Web based e-form the same way you would to an email and click submit. Check out the forms submission demo at www.dir.ca.gov/.../EAMS_Demos.htm for more details.