From the Workers’ Compensation & Employers’ Liability Practice.
For a number of years, the creation of an intermediate appellate court in West Virginia has been considered and debated. However, the most recent West Virginia legislative session finally resulted in the creation of an intermediate appellate court. The creation of the Court will have an impact on litigation in terms of workers’ compensation matters in the State.
Senate Bill 275, which created the intermediate appellate court, will eliminate the West Virginia Office of Judges, which was the initial arbiter of workers’ compensation protests and will establish the Board of Review as being responsible for the initial evaluation of protests filed from protestable orders, as provided by claims administrators.
Any appeals from the Board of Review will then be taken directly to the newly created intermediate appellate court. Based on initial information, the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals would then have discretion as to whether or not any appeals from the intermediate appellate court, in terms of workers’ compensation claims, would be heard.
The Office of Judges is expected to be eliminated as of June 30, 2022 and effective July 1, 2022, the West Virginia Board of Review will assume its role as the initial arbiter of protests.
In summary, the new litigation framework for workers’ compensation claims, effective July 1, 2022 in West Virginia will be: (1) protestable order issued by the claims administrator; (2) protest filed by the claimant to the West Virginia Board of Review; (3) appeal filed to the intermediate appellate court and (4) discretionary appeal to the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals.