Electronic Adjudication Management System (EAMS) Insider
Issue 2 May 16, 2008
Welcome to EAMS Insider, the newsletter about the Electronic Adjudication Management System (EAMS).
As the Division of Workers’ Compensation prepares for EAMS, it has fielded many questions from injured workers, employers, attorneys, insurers, lien claimants, and others about the new system. This newsletter was created to answer those questions and share information. Every other month, EAMS Insider will provide information on new developments and what to expect during this transition. Bulletins will also be sent to subscribers for important announcements. (Sign up to be a subscriber at EAMS@dir.ca.gov.)
What you need to know
For a quick primer on EAMS, point your browser to www.dwc.ca.gov/eams. There, you will find a project overview, fact sheet, FAQs and a glossary. In the future, DWC will post updates, “how to” guides, an application demo and other useful tools.
Another new resource is an EAMS blog at the LexisNexis Website, full of up-to-date information. The weblogs are being written by DWC Judges Colleen Casey from the San Francisco district office and Bob Norton from the Bakersfield district office. You can find the blogs here: http://law.lexisnexis.com/blogs/Insurance. Click on the “Insider Perspective” blog. The blogs are also posted on the DWC EAMS Web site.
EAMS project updates
Training for DWC employees: DWC recently commenced an intensive EAMS training schedule that will last through the summer to ensure its employees are ready to use EAMS—a vital step toward successful implementation. The first stage in the training process is happening at DWC headquarters, where more than 50 selected employees from around the state are receiving what’s called “T3” (Train the Trainer) instruction, to provide them with in-depth experience in EAMS and enable them to train employees at local district offices.
The next step in the process will be to provide training to all the staff at district offices in advance of the EAMS pilot phase.
And while one of the division’s top priorities is providing proper training to its employees, another is maintaining vital adjudication services for injured workers and employers during the training and pilot phases. That’s why training has been staggered so that all offices will remain open.
The other offices will follow in July and August (see schedule below). The division is doing its best to keep business flowing with minimum impact to parties and representatives.
Judges will be available for walk-through of settlements, and hearings and trials will be set, but at a reduced level. Half of the judges will be in training each day and the other half will be in the district offices.
Expedited hearings will continue to be scheduled as a priority. During training, DWC expects to continue to hold such hearings and issue decisions within 30 days from the filing of a “Declaration of Readiness to Proceed” as required by the Labor Code.
Here is the complete schedule:
Regulations and forms: The proposed EAMS regulations were approved May 13 by the Dept. of Industrial Relations (of which DWC is a branch) and its parent Labor & Workforce Development Agency. The regulations will be published and the public will have a chance to comment at one of the public hearings scheduled for July 14 (in Los Angeles) or July 15, 2008 (in Oakland). After review, the regulations are expected to become effective Oct. 15.
Since EAMS is scheduled to go live at DWC offices on Aug. 25, this means that submitting the revised forms—which are not expected to be finalized until later this summer—will not be made mandatory until Oct. 15. Compliance will be voluntary between Aug. 25 and the effective date, but parties are encouraged to use the new forms to enable DWC to begin its transition to a more efficient system. Voluntary compliance will also give parties and representatives a head start on learning the new EAMS procedures.
The important tentative* dates are as follows:
May 13: DIR and agency approve proposed EAMS regulations.
May 20: Regulations will be filed with the Office of Administrative Law (OAL), which will review them for compliance with State of California administrative standards.
May 30: Regulations will be published and the public will have 45 days to comment.
July 14: End of 45-day comment period. Public hearing will be scheduled as follows:
Date: Monday, July 14, 2008
Date: Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Another 15-day comment period to follow if needed.
Oct. 14: Anticipated effective date.
*Specific rulemaking dates subject to change depending on modifications to regulations needed based on public comment.
EDEX: EDEX, a conduit through which system users such as lien claimants, health care organizations, attorneys and others, get information about cases before the DWC/Workers Compensation Appeals Board (WCAB) for use in their case management functions and to file lien notices in workers’ compensation cases, currently provides data contained in the WCAB online system.
Because the system from which EDEX gets data will change with EAMS and because the laws have changed since EDEX was initially implemented, the way in which data is relayed through EDEX, and the data that will be available to some EDEX users will change.
Since its March 5 public meeting with software vendors, DWC has met regularly with an advisory group of EDEX providers to ensure that an accountable and secure means of supplying permissible information to requestors continues to be available when EAMS goes live. The DWC is committed to this process and is working diligently on the transition of this important source of information to system users.
One change that will result from the transition is that lien notices filed in EDEX—essentially electronic tags placed in case files that identify the user as a potential lien claimant—will no longer be accepted and lien claimants will need to file perfected liens at district offices. For more information on changes to EDEX, review the EDEX FAQ posted on the DWC’s EAMS Web site. If you have questions about how the changes in EDEX service will affect you, contact your EDEX provider.
How you can help
EAMS will change the way DWC does business from paper files to electronic files. This change will develop over time, and paper filing will continue when the district offices transition to EAMS late this summer. However, the paper files will be read by a scanner, and this will require new forms. These forms, which will be available for download on the DWC Website, look similar to the old ones, with coding to enable the scanners to properly index them within the electronic file. These forms must be clean and legible to ensure the information is entered correctly. While DWC staff will check each scanned form for accuracy, legible forms will speed up the process considerably. (And please, no staples.)
Forms that are now filled out by hand, such as the MSC statement and C&R forms, will need to be completed on a computer, printed out and filed on paper at the district offices. (Unrepresented parties, however, can still fill out the documents by hand.)
After the documents have been filed, they will be scanned and kept for 14 days. Then they will be shredded. Please keep a copy of any document that you need for your own records. Legacy files (older, but recently inactive cases) will be scanned into EAMS when the case comes up for hearing. After scanning, the paper version will be kept for 30 days.
If you have software to automatically populate forms so that it doesn’t need to be done manually, you will be pleased to know that DWC is working with third-party vendors to make the new fillable OCR forms compatible with “auto-populate” software. Look for more details on this as it develops.
DWC would like to thank all of the law firms and attorneys that participated in updating the division’s database of practitioners. This will help us make the shift to EAMS and is greatly appreciated.
Ever gone through a change that might have been difficult at the time but appreciated later? Many library patrons initially missed card catalogs, for instance, but soon realized the benefits of improved searching on computers. Every other month, Insider will publish a personal story of “change for the better.” This entry is from attorney Saul Allweiss.
FOUR APPROACHES TO CHANGE: A PLAY IN FOUR ACTS
I am walking down the street oblivious to my surroundings and fall into a deep hole. I sit in the bottom of the hole crying and moaning about my fate, ignoring offers of help from people that are passing above me.
The next month I am walking down the same street still oblivious to my surroundings and fall into the same hole. This time when offers of help come from above, I accept their help and they assist me in climbing out of the hole.
In the following month I am walking down the same street yet again and I fall into the same hole. This time I don’t cry and I don’t moan but I do find a way to crawl out of the hole myself.
In the following month I am walking down the same street. I finally recognize that there is a hole and I walk around it.
* * * * * *
I have a small defense workers’ compensation practice in the San Fernando Valley. I must admit that in many stages of my life I found myself in Act One of the play but am proud to state that, while I occasionally relapse into Acts One and Two, for the most part I live my life in Act Three. At times, in glorious moments, I am proud to follow the path of Act Four and actually recognize the holes before I fall in.
Recently I faced new obstacles (holes) in my business practice when I was confronted with having to submit billings electronically. During the first month I spent a lot of time complaining and feeling sorry for myself. At the end of the month I was no closer to solving my problem and there was no solution in sight. Clearly, I was living in Act One of the play. I continued living in my hole for yet another month and, facing a deadline with the client, I begged for a one month extension. The extension did nothing to solve the problem, and I spent most of the third month wallowing in self-pity. Finally I asked a friend, who used to run his own defense practice, for some advice. Lo and behold he tells me about a service that would not only take care of my electronic billing problem, but would streamline my procedures so significantly that the time spent would be cut in half overnight! Having accepted a helping hand, I crawled out of my hole and happily (yet wearily) marched down the road of life.
EAMS, as it applies to my practice, does not present holes but does present challenges. I am reading all of the proposed regulations and the forum comments. I read the EAMS Insider and I ask colleagues about their experiences in paperless environments. I have discussed the EAMS issue with my IT guy and in the next few months will be having my staff learn about EAMS, getting used to using the new forms when they become available. So, it would appear that I might actually be handling this as an Act Four scenario. I am walking down the road and I am aware of what is going on around me, taking proactive steps of getting as much information as possible. More will be revealed as the EAMS world unfolds, stay tuned…
Saul Allweiss practices law in Tarzana.
EAMS Insider is published every other month by the DWC Communications Office. It can also be found on the division’s Web site at www.dir.ca.gov/dwc/EAMS. Questions? Comments? Story ideas? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
EAMS Public Information Officer Peter Melton