The Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board in California is comprised of seven members who have been appointed by the governor in order to carry out duties in connection with appeals of workers’ compensation cases. The Appeals Board also regulates the adjudication process by adopting rules of practice and procedures for the handling of workers’ compensation cases.
For any legal needs related to reviews of workers’ compensation arbitration decisions and other appeal issues, the attorneys at Kneisler and Schondel can help. Contact our office today by email or by calling us at (707) 542-5132 to schedule a consultation to discuss your workers’ compensation case.
What Does the California Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board Do?
One of the functions of the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board is to handle cases at the reconsideration stage, which occurs after a workers’ compensation judge has heard the underlying case at a trial and has issued a decision. If a party disagrees with the decision made by the trial judge, that party has the option to appeal it by filing a Petition for Reconsideration. The petition must be filed within twenty days after the decision issues. Though the Appeals Board also has the authority to conduct their own workers’ compensation hearings by removing the case from the assigned judge to itself, this is uncommon.
The Appeals Board does have the power to grant reconsideration on its own motion during a sixty-day window after the decision in question has been filed, but in most cases, it acts upon the petition of a party. After the petition has been filed, the judge who rendered the decision has the option to file a report and recommendation for the Appeals Board to consider, which further explains the judge’s decision in light of the points addressed in the aggrieved party’s Petition for Reconsideration. The Appeals Board must act on the Petition for Reconsideration within sixty days of the filing of the petition. If the Appeals Board fails to act, the petition may be denied by operation of law.
How is a Petition for Reconsideration Handled by the California Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board?
When the Appeals Board receives a Petition for Reconsideration, the petition is assigned in strict rotation to three Appeals Board members. The case is then reviewed by the first Board member who has three days to make a decision. Next, the case is reviewed by a second member of the panel who has two days to make a decision regarding the case. Finally, the third panel member reviews the case. If two or more panel members agree on the disposition of the case, then the case will go to the Appeals Board staff to prepare a written decision. If two or more panel members do not concur, the panel members will confer, or the case will be recirculated.
Other Functions of the California Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board
In cases where a non-final order of a workers’ compensation judge has been issued, and a party feels that it will suffer substantial prejudice or irreparable harm the party has the option to file a Petition for Removal, which will be considered by the Appeals Board. Petitions for removal tend to be filed under circumstances where the party disagrees with a procedural ruling, such as a discovery-related question or an issue regarding the admissibility of evidence.
Additionally, the Appeals Board may have staff attorneys make appearances before Appellate Courts. The appearances generally involve writs of review taken from Appeals Board decisions, though they may also include other legal matters that involve the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board. The Appeals Board also has the jurisdiction to act consider contempt and disciplinary matters of parties who appear before them.
The California Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board also issues en banc decisions, which have been given to the Appeals Board to rule on in order to achieve uniformity of decision or in cases that involve novel issues. The Commissioners may also identify cases that address new or recurring issues, called Significant Panel Decisions, which are then ruled on by the Appeals Board. Finally, the Appeals Board also is involved in cases where writs of review have been granted by the district courts of appeal and the Supreme Court.
If you have questions regarding the California Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board or you want to know how the Appeals Board may become involved in your case, contact the attorneys at Kneisler and Schondel today (707) 542-5132 or fill out our online contact form. Our office can help you with any California workers’ compensation needs.