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By Nicholas M. Pace, Robert T. Reville, Lionel Galway, Amanda B. Geller, et al

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Additional info for Improving the People's Court: Issues Facing the Adjudication of Claims Before the California - Workers' Compensation Appeals Board

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Recommendations Concerning Settlements and Attorneys’ Fees • Judges should continue to review all proposed settlements. Judicial oversight is an important way to ensure that the mission of the workers’ compensation system is carried out under all circumstances. • The standards for granting settlements, and the form those agreements can take, need to be more precisely defined to reduce frustration among the bar when attorneys request approval of proposed settlement agreements and to address the serious problem of nonuniform application of approval criteria.

In such situations, the DWC stands in the same shoes as any other defendant. 20 Bankers Ind. Ins. Co. v. 2nd 89 at 97 (1935). 21 The average number of days from the filing of the Declaration of Readiness to the date of the first trial has dropped from 184 in the 4th quarter of 1996 to 117 in the 4th quarter of 1999. Commission on Health - 15 - done. This well-publicized state of affairs is a major source of concern for many who see delay in dispute resolution as antithetical to the idea of a fast-acting workers’ compensation process.

The criteria for the awarding of both attorneys’ fees and deposition fees need to be more precisely defined to reduce frustration among the bar when attorneys make fee requests and to address the problem of nonuniform awards. Recommendations Concerning Other Pretrial Matters • The rules regarding preconference screening of Declarations of Readiness and the rules regarding any review of Objections filed in response to those trial requests need to be clarified. • The criteria for determining what constitutes availability of a representative with settlement authority need to be clarified, and judges should be given better guidance on what to do when a representative is not present or is not available.

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