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On September 12, 2023, the Board of Industrial Insurance Appeals (BIIA) proposed rule amendments to WAC 263-12 Practice and Procedure. On October 26, 2023, the BIIA held a rulemaking hearing during which no oral comments were offered. The Board members received and carefully considered one written comment filed prior to the rulemaking hearing. The BIIA adopted the proposed rules and rule amendments with one stylistic change on October 31, 2023. The rules are effective 31 days later, on December 1, 2022.

Reason for Adoption
To revise the Board's rules of practice and procedure by amending 263-12-01501, 115(10), 117(2), 118, 059 and 015(4).

Board Meetings
WAC 263-12-015(4) amended to reflect the fact that BIIA meets every Tuesday at 9 a.m.

Electronic Service
WAC 263-12-01501 amended to conform to BIIA hearing ground rules (requires parties who file documents in which they represent that service was accomplished electronically to certify that they have an electronic service agreement with the opposing party). Note: No requirement to file an electronic service agreement with BIIA.

Format of Hearings
WAC 263-12-115(10) amended to make it easier to conduct video and phone hearings. Removes in-person hearings as the default. Changed to reflect the reality that the vast majority of BIIA hearings now occur either by videoconference or telephone. The original format rule came from a time when there were no video hearings, and made it a burden for any individual to appear by phone. Experience during the COVID-19 pandemic's remote work period proved that effective due process can occur in BIIA administrative hearings when conducted remotely. Most participants prefer the convenience of remote hearings except when there is a reason to appear in person.

In terms of resources and quality of life, remote hearings promote the following:

  • Saves costly time and fuel in traveling to BIIA proceedings;
  • Allows participants, including BIIA judges and staff to participate from their offices or even their homes. This allows them to be more efficient, which can lead to increases of quality of life and work improvements;
  • Once leases expire, it will potentially save BIIA resources if less facility costs are incurred;
  • Reduce the likelihood of transmission of illness when participants are required to be in one conference room; and
  • Reduce automobile travel and environmental impacts caused by such travel.

Format of Perpetuation Depositions
WAC 263-12-117(2) amended to make it easier for parties to hold video and phone perpetuation depositions. Removes in-person perpetuation depositions as the default. Changed to reflect the reality that the majority of perpetuation depositions now occur either by videoconference or telephone. This change is required for the same reasons as stated above for the format of hearings (WAC 263-12-115(10)).

Renumbering/housekeeping items

  • WAC 263-12-118(2)(d) amended to reflect a statutory numbering change.
  • WAC 263-12-059(4) amended to reflect a statutory numbering change.