Covid-19 has made several obvious changes to the workers’ compensation system that we are all familiar with by now, from far fewer in-person hearings to almost every deposition being conducted virtually.
However, one area of change which may not be so obvious (but that is still very important) is the change in service regulations. Specifically CCR 10625(b) now allows a document to be served by way of electronic service, in addition to the previously acceptable methods of personal service and first class mail, among others. This change was made permanent on Jan. 1, 2022 when the WCAB amended its Rules of Practice and Procedure to allow for electronic service. Needless to say, this change has made serving documents more efficient and less costly, which was why it was welcomed by many workers’ compensation practitioners.
There are some important points to keep in mind in regards to this change. For instance, if a document is served via electronic means the proof of service that accompanies it must also state the names and email addresses of the person serving and the person served electronically as well. (see CCR 10625(c)).
Another important point is that (per CCR 10625(d)), when a party receives notification that the service to one or more parties has failed, the server shall re-reserve the document on all intended receipts and execute a new proof of service or provide a courtesy copy to the recipient on whom service failed within a reasonable amount of time. This situation could arise when a document is served on numerous parties, but the email ”bounces back” to the sender from one or more recipients when service fails.
Lastly, one may wonder whether the WCAB prefers electronic service over other methods. But that is not the case. The WCAB has simply given the practitioners an additional method to serve documents, without it being mandated over other ways, such as serving documents via mail.
CONCLUSION ON CHANGES
In summary, the WCAB has instituted several sweeping changes to the practice of workers’ compensation since the onset of Covid. The changes in service regulations allowing for electronic service should not be overlooked. Though not mandated over other services methods, electronic service is an efficient and cost-effective way to serve documents which should be strongly considered by both adjusters and attorneys.
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Patrick Parsa is an associate attorney at Bradford & Barthel’s Woodland Hills office. If you have questions about workers’ compensation defense issues, feel free to contact Patrick at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 818.654.0411.
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