Date: January 11, 2005
This Subject Number is issued to announce changes in the Board's eCase application which will (1) allow Carriers, Self-Insured Employers, and the State Insurance Fund (SIF) to delegate access and notice to their legal representatives, and (2) permit eCase administrators access to an electronic calendar displaying hearing dates and times, for cases to which their organization is a party. Descriptions of access by and notice to the most basic parties of interest are also contained herein.
By definition, "notice" includes notices of hearings, meetings and decisions, administrative determinations, conciliation notices and appropriate correspondence. "Notice" is sent only to those entities properly indicated in the case file.
The relationships between Carriers/Self-Insureds/SIF and their legal representatives are very dynamic and undergo frequent changes. Without a more formal notification mechanism, the Board cannot update its systems at the pace of these changes and maintain compliance with WCL §110-a. Accordingly, the Board provides electronic access and notice to Carriers, Self-Insured Employers and SIF along with the responsibility for delegation of same, in keeping with the provisions of the law.
In order to electronically access case files (utilize eCase), a legal representative must have an "R" number assigned by the Board. This unique identifier, coupled with a user ID and password, enables a legal representative to electronically access appropriate claim files through eCase. For information on obtaining an "R" number, please refer to the Board's website under R Numbers for Attorneys, Attorney Firms, and Licensed Representatives.
A legal practitioner may delegate eCase access to another legally permitted entity registered with the Board, by designating an eCase administrator and following appropriate guidelines; however, a legal practitioner does not have the ability to delegate notice to other entities.
In order for the Board to recognize a legal relationship between claimants and their legal representatives, the Board MUST receive Form OC-400 Notice of Retainer and Appearance/Substitution of Counsel verifying same. The Board is required to verify that the Attorney or Licensed Representative has been "retained" pursuant to WCL §110-a(2)(c).
A claimant may retain multiple attorneys or licensed representatives. In the event of an appeal to the Appellate Division, for instance, a claimant may retain a separate law firm. Claimant should indicate his/her legal relationship to the additional attorney or licensed representative through Form OC-400.
An attorney retained by a workers' compensation Insurance Carrier/Self-Insured/SIF may be granted eCase access only by the workers' compensation Insurance Carrier/Self-Insured/SIF. As clarified below, notices shall be sent to carrier attorneys as indicated via the carrier's delegation authority.
Workers' compensation Insurance Carriers, Self-Insured Employers and SIF have full eCase access to appropriate case files, have the ability to delegate eCase access to entities legally recognized by the Board, and have the additional ability to delegate notice to legal practitioners.
Delegation authority requires that an entity with electronic access designate an eCase administrator to coordinate communications between the Board and the entity. The eCase administrator uses an online administrator tool to allow/disallow access to eCase by entities for which they are lawfully entitled to control access. This is the ONLY way in which an insured employer, a carrier's attorney or agent* and/or a self-insured employer's attorney or agent* can gain eCase access to case file information.
The additional ability to delegate notice enables Carriers, Self-Insured Employers and SIF to control and monitor their relationships with legal practitioners involved in representation of the workers' compensation case file. Practitioners may be placed on notice on a case by case basis, or on a "district wide" basis.
*If the attorney or agent has been delegated to receive notice, the attorney or agent is simultaneously granted eCase access to case file(s).
While all insured employers receive notices of decisions, they have electronic access to case files through their insurance carrier's or SIF's delegation authority only. Uninsured employers should contact the Board for eCase access and/or file Form OC-406, Notice of Retainer and Appearance on Behalf of Employer, in order to acquire eCase access for themselves and/or their legal representation.
eCase administrators now have the ability to view, download and print a calendar displaying all hearing dates and times for cases to which their organization is a participant. eCase administrators in organizations that have been granted delegation authority will be able to view a calendar displaying hearing dates and times for all cases over which they have delegation authority. This ability is granted to eCase administrators on behalf of attorneys identified as parties of interest, claimant and carrier alike.
Combined with the ability to view files online, the Board envisions that the calendaring feature will enable parties to appear and be prepared for all hearings, except in extraordinary circumstances. The Board continues to strive for effective hearings and will continue to monitor a party's preparedness, making findings and assessing penalties as appropriate.
Currently, files concerning discrimination and disability benefit claims are not maintained electronically. Access to view the Board's file for those cases must be arranged through the local district office.
As always, claimants are free to authorize access to their case files to any person via Form OC-110A Authorization to Disclose Workers' Compensation Records or a notarized authorization letter. This type of authorization, however, will NOT result in eCase access.
Please visit our webpage for up-to-date information on registration procedures and further enhancements (www.wcb.ny.gov). The website also provides an index of on-line services which gives specific information about each of the Board's electronic communication capabilities.
REMINDER: Dissemination of and access to workers' compensation case file information is governed by Workers' Compensation Law §110-a. A violator is guilty of a class A misdemeanor, and upon conviction subject to a fine and action by the Attorney General.
David P. Wehner