“If the world were perfect, it wouldn’t be.” (Yogi Berra)
To our Clients, Friends and Followers:
The WCAB is still open for business but in a modified, limited manner. Here is a quick summary of where we stand:
- WCAB as of 01/11/2021 permits “walk-in” or “walk-through” documents but limited only to a Compromise and Release or Stipulation with Request for Award, using the new LifeSize video conferencing platform. (No live walk-in’s permitted) This is available at DWC District Offices Monday-Friday, 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. only. They have set up a virtual Courtroom only for this purpose.
- All DWC District Offices, except for Eureka, are open.
- The DWC will continue to handle Status Conferences, MSC’s, Priority Conferences, Expedited Hearings and Case-in-Chief Trials, using the Judges’ Conference Lines. WCJ’s will have discretion to permit Expedited Hearings and Case-in-Chief trials to be conducted through the Life-size Virtual Courtroom feature. Lien trials now limited to one per Judge, per day.
- DIR/DWC issues Notice of Emergency Regulation to Re-Adopt Measures to Assist Medical-Legal Evaluations During COVID-19. This means that Regs. 46.2 and 36.7 would be extended 210 days. Please recall 46.2 deals with the PQME process, featuring extended time frames and the use of a “record review and electronic interview” and the conditional use of “telehealth.” Reg. 36.7 deals with electronic service.
- New Judges’ Conference Lines updated 02/04/2021.
SHOULD I GO WITH A TELEHEALTH EXAMINATION?
There is no universal answer, but I would encourage a default position of “no,” absent some compelling reasons. Please recall under Reg. 46.2 (a)(3)(B) the telehealth examination is limited to disputed medical issues involving AOE/COE or the termination of indemnity benefits. In an orthopedic claim, I would urge that a physical examination would appear to be almost always necessary, featuring tests for potential malingering. Internal claims not featuring the heart or hypertension, might be more acceptable, since GERD, IBS and the like must be supported by diagnostic testing. Psychiatric claims are perhaps the most amenable because there is no “touching” or examination of the applicant. But I still have misgivings, since the telehealth examination is only as good as the speed and bandwidth of the technology.
Under no circumstances, would I agree to use telehealth if there are serious issues with the applicant’s credibility. These need to be addressed in-person.
Stay tuned. Stay safe. Stay well.