As a business owner, you know that taking the right steps for planning, financing, expanding, licensing, and other related activities is essential. Understanding the right procedures can be the difference between your business’ success and failure. This is just as true with the workers’ compensation system. The procedure your business will go through during this process is important to understand in order to protect it and its future. When a claim is made against your business for workers’ compensation benefits by an injured worker, the claims are usually informally resolved between the injured worker and the insurance adjusted. If the claims cannot be informally resolved, the issues will be resolved by the workers’ compensation judge (WCJ). There are a wide variety of issues the WCJ may be asked to decide, ranging from the level of injury sustained by the employee to the authorization for medical treatment.
If either party disagrees with the decision made by the WCJ, that party may appeal that decision to the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board (WCAB). The WCAB is made up of seven judges, called “Commissioners,” that are appointed by the governor, and then confirmed by the state senate. The Commissioners serve in terms of six years. Out of the seven, three will preside over an appeal. The appeal is called a Petition for Reconsideration. As with any appeal, there are strict deadlines, so having an experienced attorney for your Petition for Reconsideration is essential. Missing a deadline could mean that you waive your right to request reconsideration of the WCJ’s decision.
After the Petition for Reconsideration is filed, each of the three Commissioners assigned to the case will review the petition. Note that filing a Petition for Reconsideration with the WCAB does not mean that you have a full trial in front of the WCAB; rather, it means that your attorney will file particular documents with the WCAB explaining why the petition has merit. There are several possible outcomes for the Petition. First, it is possible the WCAB will simply dismiss the request. Second, they could affirm the decision of the WCJ and deny the request for reconsideration. Third, they could grant the request for reconsideration and return the case to the WCJ for additional proceedings. Finally, they could grant the request for reconsideration and render their own decision.
If you have questions about the workers’ compensation process, you need an experienced team on your side. Contact us today and we can discuss the procedure and how they will impact your business.