The DWC has decided to take direct action to help contain the corona virus. Here is the notification they sent today: https://www.dir.ca.gov/DIRNews/2020/2020-18.html.
Court Dates & Appearances
All court appearances, with the exception of expedited hearings, are cancelled from tomorrow until the rest of the week. They will be continued, and the board will send notice by mail of the new dates, within the next five days.
For the two weeks after that (March 23 through April 3) the board will hear expedited hearings. They will also hold status conferences, mandatory settlement conferences, and priority conferences, but via CourtCall only. If the parties do not appear via CourtCall the case will be continued and notice will be given. No trials and lien conferences will be heard over this period. Presumably, new dates will be sent out by the board.
For all three weeks (tomorrow through April 3) parties cannot file documents with the board. All filing deadlines will be extended thorough April 6.
For this period also, the board will not accept walk-through documents. Documents may be filed online through EAMS. Parties may also mail in settlement documents or petitions.
The April 18 QME exam has been cancelled.
In an e-mail message today, CAAA advises that: "CAAA Executive Director Diane Worley asked Chief Judge Paige Levy whether injured workers can be excused from appearing during this period if it would jeopardize their health. Chief Judge Levy advised that would be acceptable, and they can participate through technology such as Facetime or Skype if testimony is required."
CAAA also reports that "There will be no penalties for a non-appearance during this time period as some people are having difficulties setting up Court Call as they are being inundated with requests."
And that's just for now. They may extend or make other changes.
CourtCall & How It Works
Naturally this makes for a lot of challenges. One in particular is CourtCall. This is a device long used by the board, but not used a lot. How does CourtCall work? To start, there's no law on this. The WCAB hasn't adopted any regulations for the use of CourtCall. The only information about it on the DWC website is at this link: https://www.dir.ca.gov/dwc/DWC_address/CourtCall.html. It directs you to the CourtCall website: https://courtcall.com/.
We have put together a briefing on how court call works as follows:
What is CourtCall?
CourtCall is a Remote Appearance platform used by participating Courts and Judges primarily for Status Conferences. During this public health crisis, all WCAB locations are accepting CourtCall and have expanded its use to include Mandatory Settlement Conferences and Priority Conferences. CourtCall charges a flat-fee of $66 per appearance. A credit card is needed to schedule the hearing online but the scheduler is charged after the hearing takes place.
How is It Set Up?
CourtCall coordinates with Judges and Judges' assistants to setup telephonic appearances in lieu of in-person appearances. Law firms must register their attorneys either individually or using one of the other available options. If using Bulk Attorney, please make sure to list the attorney's assistant as the scheduler, as they will need to have access.
How Does It Work?
The scheduling party receives a CourtCall confirmation via email with date/time of hearing, call-in information, and further details. The email includes a receipt in PDF format which should be shared with all parties except WCAB. It lists the dial-in information and instructions. All participants need to call in 5 minutes before the scheduled hearing. CourtCall does not call the parties. If you are calling in late and the call is already in session, please wait to announce yourself.
Participants must be in a location where they are able to email documents to the WCAB and/or other parties. Please identify yourself each time you speak.
How to Register
Using any browser, go to: https://courtcall.com/ or call 888-882-6878.
Select Register then select Type of Registrant.
Once registered, the attorneys will receive an email confirmation which states "Instructions for activating online access will be sent..." to them separately within 1 business day.
After receiving your account information, an attorney or attorneys' assistant can login to CourtCall to check which appearances are available for CourtCall. Reminder: you can call 888-882-6878 to schedule CourtCall as well.
Please have the following ready:
Case Name & ADJ #
Date & Time of appearance
Login & Select New Appearance
Once you select the County, Court, and Judge, you will be taken to a list of available upcoming appearances. Select the hearing you are looking for.
If you receive the error message, "Online scheduling is not currently available for this Judge/Dept. Please call us at (888) 882-6878 for more information." Call the indicated number.