Workers Compensation Appeals Board
California is widely known among U.S. states as having one of the highest labor standards. But despite the prevailing laws and regulations that provide employee protections to individuals in the workplace, employers that are supposed to establish workplace fairness and equality, often fail to recognize their rights, subjecting them to various practices that basically violate the laws and regulations currently in place in California. Fortunately, aggrieved employees in the state are entitled to their right to assert their claims by filing certain complaints with various government agencies that mainly focus on California’s realm of employment and labor. One of these entities is the Workers Compensation Appeals Board (WCAB).
Basically, the WCAB is under the California Department of Industrial Relations, which is responsible for ensuring the overall economic well-being of individuals doing work in the state, as well as making sure that employers are able to adhere with the employment and labor laws. It focuses on the health and safety of employees, as well as the various benefits they are entitled to, including workers’ compensation. This is why the DIR has its own sub-entity, which is the WCAB that would be focusing on only workers’ compensation issues that employees face.
The WCAB is composed of seven members, all of which were appointed by the Governor of California as per the advice and consent of the state’s Senate. Each of them has six years to be in such a position within the agency, and at least five of the members are licensed to practice law in California. Through its adherence with the California Labor Code, particularly Sections 110 through 138.2, the WCAB has judicial powers in which they basically carry out their responsibilities with regard to workers’ compensation claims in California. Basically, they review individuals’ petitions for their denied claims to be reconsidered, in which the decisions fall into the hands of the administrative law judges or ALJs of the Division of Workers’ Compensation (DWC). The WCAB also regulates the process of deciding the appeals.
So what is in it for workers? The WCAB can help individuals who are in dire need of workers’ compensation benefits but have been denied during their first filing. Basically, workers’ compensation, which includes benefits such as medical care, temporary or permanent disability benefits, supplemental job displacement benefits, and death benefits, is filed with the DWC, which is responsible for handling and monitoring such claims. However, if they have been denied of their claims, they have the right to challenge it. First, the DWC’s ALJs would decide whether the decision to deny the claims is correct or not. If the judge’s upheld the decision in favor of the claims administrator, then an appeal with WCAB can be filed.
The state agency normally carries out its judicial powers once the ALJ from the DWC made its final decision on the denied claims. Whenever the claimants believe that there’s efficient evidence that they are truly entitled to workers’ compensation, or the evidence used does not justify the denial of their claims, petitions for reconsideration can be filed with the WCAB. This is usually done 20 days from the date of the denial of the claims.
Indeed, filing for worker’s compensation in California is a right. However, the filing process can be burdensome, more so if the claim is denied. Undergoing an appeal could be difficult; however, the WCAB is willing to help injured employees be entitled with the benefits they truly deserve.