The Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board (WCAB) is a judicial body made up of seven members. The Governor of California appoints these members and they are then confirmed into office by the state Senate. The Appeals Board is granted its judicial powers through the California Labor Code. The functions of the Board include regulation of the workers’ compensation adjudication process by adopting rules of procedure and practice, as well as reviewing petitions for reconsideration of decisions made by Workers’ Compensation administrative law judges.
If you have a work injury case, regardless of what stage you are at in the process, the law firm of Kneisler & Schondel can help you. Our workers’ compensation attorney has handled many workers’ compensation claims through all stages of the administrative law process. Contact our firm today so we can get started fighting for your rights.
Who is On the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board?
The Appeals board has seven members. Each member is chosen for a six-year term. Five out of the seven members are required to be practicing attorneys in California.
Organization and Function of the Appeals Board
The Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board does have the power to hear cases up for the first time. It also has the power to remove cases from the standard workers’ compensation docket in order to hear them for the first time. However, its main function is to act as a review board for workers’ compensation cases that have already been decided by a workers’ compensation judge (WCJ).
The Process of Reconsideration of a Decision
After receiving a decision from a WCJ following a trial, a party has to right to appeal the decision. The appeal is filed with the WCAB and is referred to as a Petition for Reconsideration. When a party chooses to file a petition for reconsideration, they have a twenty-day time period after which they receive the decision during which to file it. There are five grounds for reconsideration:
- The decision was procured through fraud
- The findings of fact do not support the decision that was reached
- There is newly discovered evidence that was not available at hearing
- The arbitrator or Appeals Board acted beyond their power
- The decision was not justified by the evidence presented
Under California workers’ compensation law, the WCJ is given fifteen days from the day the petition was filed to draft a report and recommendation to the WCAB which is intended to explain his or her decision in light of the points that were made within the aggrieved party’s petition for reconsideration. The WCJ is also given the opportunity to modify and/or amend their decision. They are also given the opportunity to rescind their decision and go forward with further proceedings if they deem it necessary to do so.
Once a petition for reconsideration is filed by a party, the WCAB is generally required to act on the petition within the next sixty days. If the Appeals Board does not do so, the petition in some cases, may be considered denied.
Procedure for Petitions for Reconsideration
The Appeals Board has a specific procedure in place in order to resolve petitions for reconsideration. When a petition is brought, the Chairman of the Board has the duty to assign the case to a panel made up of three members of the Board. Cases are assigned in such a way that there are different combinations of members assigned to cases as they come through the system.
Once a case is assigned to three members of the panel, it is then given to the first member of the panel who reviews the materials and then attempts to make a decision on the case within a few days. The next member then takes possession of the materials and makes their decision within two days. Finally, the case is then passed to the third panel member to reach a decision. If after all three members have reviewed the case, and two or more of them agree on a final disposition, then the case will go to the staff of the Appeals Board, so a written decision can be prepared. However, if the panel members do not concur, the case is the recirculated, or the panel members meet to confer.
When a panel is presented with a case, they have four options to take. They can deny the petition, grant reconsideration and then issue their own decision, grant reconsideration for further proceedings, or dismiss the petition for being untimely or not a final order, or for a number of other miscellaneous reasons.
If you have further questions regarding the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board, contact the workers’ compensation attorneys Kneisler and Schondel today at (707) 542-5132 or fill out our online contact form. Our experienced attorneys have successfully handled many workers’ compensation cases and are ready to help you through every step of the workers’ compensation claim process.