Proceedings by Video/Phone will be how Board of Industrial Insurance Appeals cases will be heard, through at least January 2021. Since we last wrote about this – APPEAL PROCEEDINGS WILL BE BY REMOTE ACCESS THROUGH JULY – additional options have been put in place, including Zoom proceedings.
Opening of BIIA Offices and Live Proceedings on Hold
When and how the BIIA will open their offices depends on the COVID-19 situation and guidance from Governor Inslee’s office. On July 24, 2020, the Governor extended the Safe Start proclamation, and BIIA offices remain closed to the public at this time.
The BIIA will continue with only telephone/video proceedings through the end of January 2021. Contact your assigned judge about using CourtCall or Zoom for video proceedings, or if you have questions about how to proceed.
More Information and Assistance
More information about the process for proceedings by video/phone can be found on the Board’s website. There is updated information for the use of Zoom for proceedings on a variety of devices, with step-by-step instructions and helpful screenshots:
If you have an appeal pending, you may also contact the judge assigned to your case, or their assistant, if you more information.
We often suggest that claimants have legal representation when their case is on appeal. This may be especially true when appeal proceedings will be remote access. Feel free to contact our firm for assistance with your case. We offer a free analysis of your case and will give you our opinion on whether you need legal assistance, or not, and how we recommend you proceed.
Today’s post comes from guest author Brody Ockander, from Rehm, Bennett & Moore.
We routinely advise our clients to be aware of the possible discovery of Facebook and other social media sites. First step – check your privacy settings. If you do not control your privacy settings, your employer or the insurance carrier may easily access your posts. Also, do not post comments about your case, your employer, or your injury online.
However, the Nebraska Workers’ Compensation Court has never really ruled on Facebook in the context of discovery matters in a work comp claim, meaning how much access can your employer have to your Facebook account if you file a workers’ compensation claim?
Recently, however, the Nebraska Workers’ Compensation Court (at least one judge) has taken the position that in order for your employer to gain access to photographs from your Facebook profile, it must “make a showing of the necessary factual predicate underlying [the] broad request for access.” In other words, your employer must have a decent reason to suspect that a certain photograph or something from your Facebook account has the potential to be relevant to the work comp case before the court will simply grant full access to your Facebook account to your employer.
Therefore, depending on your situation, your Facebook may be safe from your employer to some degree. However, this is a cautionary tale to remind you that even though your employer cannot simply have blanket access to all of your Facebook photos – at least according to one Nebraska judge – it does not mean that your Facebook photos or posts are necessarily safe from your employer gaining access to them at some point during your work comp case. I think the judge in this case takes a step in right direction, but you still must be aware that anything you put on Facebook may be subject to discovery (i.e., your employer may still possibly get access to it) at some point in the future.
The Claimant’s name has been changed to insure confidentiality.
Our clients who are embroiled in litigation in their seemingly straightforward workers’ comp cases are often shocked when we tell them how long it may likely take to get a final decision. We recently prevailed in a case that serves as an exemplar of what the litigation process can involve.
David performed maintenance and repair for about five years on large construction equipment, requiring heavy lifting, carrying, torqueing, and other strength maneuvers in awkward positions, all affecting a shoulder condition that had its origins 30 years before in a diving injury followed by an injury on the job to the same shoulder that required surgery. He had worked at vigorous labor for the ensuing 25 years with no limitations until his work for the last company aggravated his shoulder, disabling him from work and leading to a partial shoulder replacement surgery.
Here’s how the claim went: David filed to reopen his 30-year old injury claim, but the Dept. of Labor & Industries (L&I) denied the reopening because of information about the recent work activity. He then filed a claim based on injury from his last repair/maintenance work, and the claim was allowed as an “injury.” The employer protested the allowance, and L&I took it back for further review. It was then allowed as an “occupational condition or disease” based on the aggravating effect of the cumulative trauma on David’s pre-existing but non-disabling shoulder condition. The employer then appealed that order to the Board of Industrial Insurance Appeals (BIIA) – our workers’ compensation “trial court” – and months later full hearings were conducted with live testimony from David and depositions of four medical witnesses.
Months after that, the BIIA judge who heard the evidence issued a decision fully favorable to David, and upholding the L&I allowance order. The employer then requested reconsideration of the judge’s decision. That was denied, and the employer then filed an appeal to superior court requesting a jury trial. Many months later, the case was tried to a jury and the jury upheld the BIIA’s and L&I’s decisions. At that point, the employer had been given five shots at overturning the allowance of David’s claim.
How long did all this take in a case with a seemingly straightforward medical issue?
December, 2009 to July, 2012 – over 2 ½ years!
An interesting side-note to this case: Our Rule 9 intern, Brian Wright, recently graduated from Seattle University School of Law and preparing to take the bar examination later this month, assisted me in trying the case in superior court. I turned over closing argument to the jury to Brian, and he did a great job, beating a seasoned defense lawyer I’ve been litigating against for 20 years or so. At Causey Law Firm we’re wagering that Brian is the only Rule 9 intern in the state to prevail over an experienced lawyer in a superior court jury trial this year!