Coming on the heals of the announced temporary closures of offices in the Bay Area to help stem the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), the DWC and WCAB have issued two newsline releases over the past two days to try to address some of the concerns and offer guidance on how best to conduct court proceedings and medical evaluations remotely.
On Wednesday, the WCAB issued an
en banc order
"temporarily suspending specific WCAB Rules of Practice and Procedure contained in Title 8 of the California Code of Regulations" during the COVID-19 crisis.
“This includes Rules regarding dismissals for failure to appear, the timeframe for reports from WCJs and arbitrators, required signatures and witnesses for Compromise and Release agreements, and service by the WCAB by mail and consent for electronic service. All filing deadlines are extended per the DWC's March 16, 2020 Newsline that all district offices are closed for filing from March 17 through April 3.”
the DWC offered guidance
on how to handle medical evaluations for injured workers during the state of this emergency period, recommending the use of telehealth while also examining the feasibility of using telemedicine for QME evaluations.
“DWC encourages all parties to consider creative solutions appropriate to providing care to injured workers. The increased use of telehealth services for medical treatment may be appropriate… DWC is currently evaluating the feasibility of telemedicine for QME evaluations and will continue to do so. The use of telemedicine for a QME evaluation may be appropriate where all parties agree that there is a medical issue in dispute which involves whether or not the injury is AOE/COE (Arising Out of Employment / Course of Employment), and all parties to the action, including the physician, agree to a telemedicine evaluation in order to resolve this dispute.”