The California Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board (WCAB) is an important entity all Los Angeles workers should be aware of. While no one envisions having vital medical care reimbursement and compensation for lost wages denied by a system designed to protect injured workers and their families, much less suffer a workplace injury in the first place, the reality is many workers must have their cases heard in front of the WCAB.
California workers’ compensation laws hold all employers must carry workers’ compensation insurance to reimburse injured workers for one-time industrial accidents or repetitive stress injuries. Unfortunately, California places this safeguard in the hands of powerful insurance companies who do not always do the right thing.
Workers’ compensation claims are handled from the onset by insurance adjusters who may have best interests of their insurance company at heart, rather than the victim. In cases where suffering workers have their claims denied, it may be necessary to adjudicate their claims through a workers’ compensation judge. When this fails, workers have the right to take their appeals to the WCAB.
What is the California Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board?
The WCAB is a seven-member panel appointed by the Governor of California and confirmed by the state Senate. The board is charged with faithfully executing the judicial power enumerated in the California Labor Code. Typical duties of the WCAB include reviewing petitions for reconsideration and regulating the appeals process by creating new rules.
While the WCAB has the authority to hear workers’ compensation concerns from the onset of a dispute, the board usually hears appeals of rulings handed down by judges. Workers may file appeals with the board within 20 days of a ruling they disagree with.
The WCAB will hear cases for reconsideration on the grounds that:
- The WCAB or judge acted in excess of its power;
- The decision was procured by fraud;
- The evidence did not justify the decision;
- There is newly discovered evidence which could not have been produced at the hearing; or
- The findings of fact do not support the decision.
Within 15 days of the appeal, the judge whose ruling is being questioned may submit a report to the WCAB detailing his or her reasoning on the claim’s denial. During this time, the judge may also change his or her ruling. After 60 days, the WCAB must come to a decision on the appeal or it will be denied.
What decisions can the WBAC reach?
The WCAB has several conclusions it may reach in deciding an appeal. The board may uphold the judge’s ruling and deny the petition for reconsideration, return the case to a workers’ compensation judge for reconsideration, rule in favor of the injured worker, or dismiss the appeal altogether.
Los Angeles workers’ compensation lawyers
If you were injured on the job, do not put your claim at risk by attempting to negotiate with workers’ compensation claims adjusters by yourself. Insurance companies place their financial interests above those of the injured workers meant to be protected far too many times to be counted on. Seek the advice and counsel of a qualified Los Angeles workers’ compensation attorney.
A Los Angeles workers’ compensation attorney can help ensure your claim is fairly administered from the onset and help ensure you get the compensation you and your family need to survive. If you were hurt in a workplace accident, contact a workers’ compensation attorney as soon as possible and protect your legal rights.