What is the Jurisdiction of the California Workers Compensation Board?


The jurisdiction of a court describes the court’s authority to act upon a particular matter. Numerous courts are available to California residents, and the concern of jurisdiction has to do with which court needs to hear a particular case or problem. If a suit is based on a violation of federal law, or concerns a matter that involves more than one state, the case will be heard in federal court. Numerous court systems in California have jurisdiction over California matters. The most frequently known are the Superior Courts. Individuals sue each various other in these courts over common matters such as breach of a contract or carelessness resulting in injury; state criminal matters are heard here.

Workers’ Compensation claims are heard through a court system, the Workers Compensation Appeals Board, which is generally described as the WCAB, the appeals board or the board. The appeals board is composed of seven commissioners who operate from San Francisco. Local administrative law judges (WCJs) practice in local boards throughout the state.

Generally speaking, the appeals board, not the civil courts, has jurisdiction over all cases that include a claim for compensation or have to do with workers’ benefits from a work injury. LC 5300 specifically notes those issues that are to be brought to the appeals board as follows:.

  1. For the recovery of settlement, or concerning any right or liability arising out of a work injury thereto.
  2. For the enforcement against the company or an insurance company of any liability for settlement imposed upon the employer by this department in favor of the injured worker, his/her dependents or any third person.
  3. For the determination of any question regarding the distribution of compensation amongst dependents or other individuals.
  4. For the determination of any concern about who are dependents of any deceased worker, or exactly what persons are entitled to any benefit under the compensation provisions of this division.
  5. For obtaining any order which by Division 4 the appeals board is authorized to make.
  6. For the determination of other matter, jurisdiction over which is vested by Division 4 in the Division of Workers’ Payment, consisting of the management director and the appeals board.

The appeals board is vested with full power, authority and territory to attempt and figure out finally all the matters pointed out in LC 5300 subject just to judicial limits. In matters within its territory, the appeals board “works as a judicial body and works out judicial functions and in legal effect is a court.”

The orders of the appeals board are valid unless a Court of Appeal says otherwise. No court in California, aside from the Supreme Court and the Courts of Appeal, has territory to review decisions of the appeals board. Moreover, just those courts might limit, advise or interfere with the appeals board in the performance of its tasks (LC 5955). Any party aggrieved by an order from the appeals board must look for relief from the Courts of Appeal and the Supreme Court by submitting a petition for writ of review or, if suitable, for a writ of mandate

Beyond this broad authority to choose all concerns related to workers’ settlement, the appeals board is offered specific jurisdiction in numerous specific Labor Code statutes. The appeals board likewise has jurisdiction to identify debates emerging out of insurance policies provided to self-employing persons giving workers’ settlement benefits (LC 5308).

The appeals board has figured out that it has territory over clinical liens including concerns about the validity of lien claimants’ medical bills and liens, whether a clinical carrier was effectively licensed at the time medical services were offered, whether consolidation or stay of lien claims was appropriate and whether restitution or compensation was appropriate. The appeals board or any member thereof could conduct procedures for contempt in like manner and to the exact same extent as courts of record. It may get rid of or suspend the privilege of a nonattorney from appearing prior to it upon a showing of good cause. The appeals board has jurisdiction to figure out the reasonable value of attorney’s costs and costs for medical witnesses. The appeals board likewise has territory to identify whether a third-party settlement was entered into in good faith, and whether to reallocate the proceeds of a third-party settlement where an injured employee had actually colluded with a third party to make a bad-faith allowance of settlement earnings in order to defeat the employer’s future credit rights. It has actually been held that the WCAB is the appropriate venue for work-related injuries, even if an additional administrative agency has jurisdictional interest.

In almost all cases, the jurisdiction of the appeals board is not in dispute. An applicant files a claim with the board and the matter is heard. Often a problem occurs that needs consideration of the proper jurisdiction. Sometimes, an applicant wants to civilly sue his/her company in addition to or instead of submitting a workers’ compensation case. An example might be when a company attacks and batters a worker, and hence actions outside the function of company. In some cases a candidate wants to take legal action against a third party in civil court in addition to filing a claim with the WCAB. As an example, if the applicant is driving while on the job and the automobile is rear-ended, he or she could file an employees’ payment claim against the company and in civil court sue the person who struck the driver. In some cases, it turns out that the appeals board does not have authority to do some particular thing because of jurisdictional limits.