The nature of a workers’ compensation proceeding is not like the trials shown on television. First, a traditional trial is held before a judge or a jury. There is often a “gallery,” which means the rows of benches where the trial can be observed. If a traditional trial does not finish all in one day, the case typically continues the very next day, or soon thereafter. However, a workers’ compensation claim is a bit different, but does have some similarities. When a claim is made, the attorneys for both sides will try to settle the issues before it has to go to before a judge. Like a traditional case, attorneys may successfully settle all, none, or just some of the issues. For example, in a workers’ compensation case, it may be possible for the attorneys to agree on the fact the injured person was an employee at the time of the incident, and the incident did result in a work-related injury, and then only have to proceed to trial on the remaining issue of degree of disability and related medical issues. If the attorneys are unsuccessful in settling all of the issues, a typical case would proceed to trial before a trial judge or a jury. A workers’ compensation claim, however, will go before the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board (WCAB). The claim will be tried by a workers’ compensation judge. A jury is not an option in a WCAB proceeding. If the trial does not finish the same day, it is likely that instead of continuing the very next day like a traditional trial, the workers’ compensation matter will not be reconvened until a set day that may be several months away. Like a traditional trial, both sides will be permitted to call witnesses to support their version of events. These witnesses may include co-workers, supervisors, or medical professionals, depending on what issues need to be resolved at the WCAB. After the evidence is completed, the WCAB judge will probably not provide his or her decision on the same day. This is typically called taking something “under submission ” and it often happens in a traditional courtroom, as well. Eventually the judge will make a decision, and the attorneys will receive notice of that decision. If either side is unhappy with the result, they may file an appeal, which is called a “Petition for Reconsideration.” If that occurs, the end of the case will again be delayed.
There are many similarities between traditional court and the WCAB. If you have questions about the differences, I am ready to answer your questions. I am experienced in how to navigate the unique nature of the WCAB and look forward to discussing your case with you. Call me today at (714) 516-8188 for an appointment.