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Category: Flash Bulletins

WCAB Rejects Concept of “Vocational Apportionment” in Rare En Banc Decision

June 23, 2023 Further Restrictions on Vocational Apportionment As most workers’ compensation practitioners can attest, vocational evidence has seen a resurgence in recent years, as the applicant’s bar attempts to obtain Awards of 100% permanent total disability. One unfortunate side effect of this resurgence, is the development of the complex concept of “vocational apportionment.” Thankfully, the WCAB has offered much-needed clarity on this complex topic in a recent en banc decision issued on June 22, 2023: Grace Nunes v. State […]

Time for the WCAB to Act on Petitions for Reconsideration

March 28, 2023 Do you have any cases that have been pending on Reconsideration and remain unresolved for what you believe to be an unreasonable period of time? If so, you should be aware that ongoing delays issuing decisions at the WCAB Reconsideration Unit have drawn increasing attention, both in the judicial, and legislative realms. On the judicial side, the case of Michele Earley vs. WCAB [Case No. B318842] is currently pending at the California Court of Appeal for the […]

Impact of SB 1127

February 15, 2023 On September 29, 2022, updates to the Labor Code went into effect when Governor Newsom signed SB 1127 into law.  Two of these updates significantly expanded benefits for safety officers, one update imposed a potentially hefty penalty for unreasonably rejected claims, and the final update related to data collection. Expanded Temporary Disability for Cancer Claims The first provision of SB1127 is a significant expansion of temporary disability benefits for safety officers, namely firefighters, peace officers, and fire […]

COVID-19 IN THE WORKPLACE: Updates on Legislation

February 15, 2023 As COVID-19 continues to linger in California, it remains an ongoing concern for state lawmakers. In response to this ongoing threat, California continues to provide updated regulations as it pertains to COVID in the workplace. This article will cover the recent updates adopted by the State of California. Non-Emergency COVID-19 Prevention Regulations Up until present, the state has been operating under Emergency Temporary Standards as it pertains to COVID-19 Prevention Regulations. On December 15, 2022, Non-Emergency COVID-19 […]

New Timeline to set QME Evaluations: Amendment to Regulations for Medical Legal Evaluations

February 7, 2023 On February 2, 2023 the Division of Workers Compensation filed with the Secretary of State changes to Regulations related to scheduling, remote health (previously known as telehealth), and requesting replacement Panel QMEs. Updates were made to Title 8, California Code of Regulations sections 31.3, 31.5, 34, 46.3 and Forms 31.5 & 108. According to the Administrative Director, the driving purpose behind these amendments is to increase availability of physicians and reduce replacement panels that cause delays in the […]

UPDATE! California’s Governor Newsom Signs New Legislation Affecting Public Safety Employees

October 6, 2022 In an expected move given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, on September 29, 2022, Governor Newsom signed into law two workers’ compensation bills, AB 1751 and SB 1127, but vetoed another bill, SB 284. The signing of AB 1751 extends the currently existing presumption of injury for certain types of public safety employees and  when an “outbreak” of COVID-19 occurs at the place of employment.  These presumptions now expire January 1, 2024 instead of January 1, 2023.  AB […]

“You’re really here for a panel dispute?” – WCJ

September 6, 2022 When Labor Code Sections 4060, 4061, 4062, 4062.1 and 4062.2 were enacted, the panel Qualified Medical Evaluator (QME) process was supposed to be simpler and less costly. As is often true, the legislation did not necessarily achieve its intended purpose. While the number of QMEs on a case may have diminished, the litigation has not necessarily decreased. We are seeing panel “wars” and the disputes involve much more than just preferred panel specialty. How many panels does […]

Steps to Prevent and Combat a Poorly Written Medical-Legal Report

August 23, 2022 The WCAB must ground its decisions in substantial evidence. We practitioners must review medical-legal reports and any doctor’s depositions to ensure the medical record, when read as a whole, constitutes substantial evidence. If a review of the report and the entire record suggests that a judge cannot reasonably support a determination, then it is the practitioner’s role to develop and execute the strategy to remedy the issue. Preparing for a Successful Medical-Legal Evaluation A successful medical-legal evaluation […]

What Happens at Work Stays at Work? Bringing Covid-19 Home to Your Spouse

July 15, 2022 (update) The California Supreme Court has announced that it will address the questions posed by the Court of Appeal in Kuciemba. Specifically, the Court will provide an answer as to whether and how the derivative injury doctrine applies to cases when an employee is exposed to COVID-19 at work, and takes the illness home to other family members. Original Post Date: May 20, 2022 There is no question COVID-19 altered our existence as humans. Worldwide, the pandemic […]

New Workers Compensation Regulations and Guidelines: What’s it Worth?

June 1, 2022 There have been significant changes in workers’ compensation regulations and guidelines recently that have arguably increased the value of claims. In April 2021, The California Department of Industrial Relations, Division of Workers’ Compensation’s (DWC) new medical-legal fee schedule went into effect. The new fee schedule drastically increases medical-legal costs and may prompt defendants to consider whether early settlement may be more cost-effective. Additionally, earlier this year, version 3.5 of CMS’ Workers’ Compensation Medicare Set Aside Reference Guide […]