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UPDATE: ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE FAILS TO PASS SB 335 Bill Loses Support After Punitive Amendments to Key Provisions

July 15 2021 On July 13, 2021, the California Assembly Committee on Insurance held its first hearing on SB 335. The bill was amended significantly by the committee, but ultimately failed to garner enough votes to pass, with several committee members opposing the amended bill. The amendments would maintain the current timeframes for making a liability decision – 45-days for presumptive injuries and 90-days for all other claims. During the delay period, the medical expense cap would remain at $10,000. […]

TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE: Proposed California Senate Bill Would Shorten Time to Deny All Claims to 45 or 30-Days

July 13, 2021 One of the hallmarks of legislation passed during the pandemic, has been an emphasis on moving claims quickly from the initial investigatory phase to either acceptance or denial of the claim at the administrative level. Presumptively industrial COVID-19 claims were subject to a shortened investigation timeframe: either 45-days or in some cases 30-days, after which time, if no decision had been made, were presumed industrial. A new bill making its way through the legislature would see that […]

Cal/OSHA Adopts New COVID-19 Workplace Standards

June 21, 2021 In what seems to be an endless bombardment of new information and policy in response to the COVID-19 crisis, Governor Newsom signed EXECUTIVE ORDER N-09-21 on June 17, 2021. The Governor accepted the recommendations of the Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board – bypassing the usual 10 day review period for approval by the Office of Administrative Law. To add some clarity in this sea of confusion and to lessen prior restrictions, the Emergency Temporary Standards ordered […]

Applied Materials v. WCAB – Physician Misconduct Compensable and Fitzpatrick Affirmed

June 9, 2021 The Sixth District Court of Appeal recently issued its decision in the matter of Applied Materials v. WCAB.  The decision was initially issued as unpublished and the California Workers’ Compensation Institute obtained an order of publication.  The decision was certified for publication on June 1, 2021 and may now be cited as binding precedent in future cases. In its lengthy decision, the Court addressed multiple issues raised by the parties.  The two issues most likely to have […]

California’s Revised Cal/OSHA COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standards Send Mixed Signals to Employers

June 7, 2021 Following the lead of the National Institute of Health (NIH), Cal/OSHA has promulgated new and modified emergency temporary standards for employers in response to the COVID-19 crisis. On June 3, 2021, the Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board readopted Cal/OSHA’s COVID-19 prevention emergency temporary standards and adopted revised standards. The revised standards reflect the easing of employer restrictions. These updated standards are expected to go into effect on June 15, 2021 if approved by the Office of Administrative […]

RISING COSTS OF THE MEDICAL-LEGAL PROCESS: Revisions to Medical-Legal Fee Schedule

March 24, 2021 In an effort to entice more doctors to become panel qualified medical examiners, write better reports, and reduce billing disputes over medical-legal examinations and reports, the DWC has proffered amendments to the Medical-Legal Fee Schedule. Although we are waiting for the final date of implementation, we anticipate these will become effective by April 1, 2021 and will apply to any examination occurring on or after this date (or any requests for supplemental reports sent on or after […]

Notice and Reporting Requirements for Employers Under AB 685

March 15, 2021 After 12 months of executive orders and emergency regulations aimed at tackling the challenges created by COVID-19 in the workplace, it is clear the California Legislature has prioritized safety and reporting in order to help curb the pandemic. Specifically, the Legislature passed a suite of laws enforcing newer and more strict reporting standards regarding COVID-19 for employers statewide. Assembly Bill (AB) 685 took effect January 1, 2021 and imposes new notice and reporting requirements on employers when […]

Senate Bill 213: Expanding Presumptive Injuries for Health Care Workers

March 11, 2021 Senate Bill 213 is still working its way through the California Legislature and, as such, is not yet in effect. Because health care workers have significantly increased exposure or susceptibility to particular work-related injuries or illnesses, Senate Bill 213 aims to protect them by providing easier access to the workers’ compensation system. Comparing Senate Bill 213 and Senate Bill 1159 Governor Newsom signed Senate Bill 1159 into law on 9/17/20 as an urgency statute, and it remains […]

COVID-19 Case Finds Traction in Federal Court

February 16, 2021 California employers are subject to important safety standards intended to help avoid employee exposures to COVID-19.  Cases of actual or alleged exposure may implicate employers’ workers’ compensation coverage, with one Court now reaffirming that an employer’s knowing or intentional violation of those standards can trigger serious civil exposure as well. On January 6, 2021, the San Diego Federal District Court issued an opinion in Arnold v. Corecivic of Tennessee LLC (Case No.: 20-CV-00809 W; 2021 U.S. Dist. […]

THE COVID VACCINES: A PANACEA FOR THE PANDEMIC?

January 25, 2021 As we continue to struggle through the COVID-19 pandemic, there may be light at the end of the tunnel, as California continues with its plan for distribution and administration of approved COVID-19 vaccines. As with all vaccines, there are valid concerns that administration of the shots may have unintended consequences, including allergic reactions.  As a result, questions have arisen as to the compensability of sequelae from the shots given in connection with employment. The rule is well-settled […]