Monday, October 14, 2013

Why wasn't it in our email?

There is a periodic inquiry I get from carriers. They have become aware of  a Petition for Benefits (PFB) through the electronic docket in a particular case, but they are concerned that this PFB did not come to them through the electronic service process of e-JCC. They will send an email outlining this situation and asking why/how the e-service process failed. 

In the vast majority of these situations, the e-service system did not fail. There have been a handful of instances in which some computer error did preclude or delay e-service. However, the reason for no email delivery in almost all instances comes down to an election made by the claimant's attorney in the filing process. You see, e-service is an option that is provided to claimant's counsel when the e-PFB is completed in e-JCC. 

The filing of PFB must be through electronic means if the injured worker is represented, Fla. Stat. 440.192; Rule 60Q6.108(1).  Service of the PFB and the response by the carrier "shall" be "by certified mail, or by electronic means approved by the Deputy Chief Judge." The e-service component of the e-JCC system is the electronic means that has been approved. But note that this is disjunctive, "or" and a claimant's attorney may still elect to use the more expensive and more time consuming certified mail process if they wish. 

Certainly, it is valid to ask why one would use Certified mail. The cost of Certified mail is about $3.56 per envelope. Counsel (PFB) and the Carrier (Response) saves that with each e-filing, as the the use of the e-filing process is mandatory, so no Certified mail expense to send to the OJCC. Conversely, counsel (PFB) and the Carrier (Response) can save that $3.56 on each copy served, but "can" is the operative word. E-service, unlike e-filing, is permissive, not mandatory. 

The usual answer, when a Carrier asks us why a particular PFB or other document did not come to their attention as they would have expected (in the email box), the reason is that this particular attorney did not use the e-service option at the end of the e-filing process.  

The advantages of e-service are clear. First, there is no expense, e-service through e-JCC is free. Second, the process of e-service can be accomplished without printing, folding, inserting into an envelope, and walking to whatever "outgoing mail" is usual in your office. The whole e-service process can be accomplished from your desk. Finally, the receipt of e-served documents can be easily and quickly verified in e-JCC, removing doubt of "did they get it" or "when did they get it."

If you would like to save time and money, but are not sure how to use e-service, contact me. I will arrange for someone to show you how to take advantage of this tool, and start saving money and time. 

As always, feel free to contact me with any questions/comments about e-JCC and its benefits. You can reach me by email at david.langham@doah.state.fl.us

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