by Matthew G. Markham (December 22, 2014)

For injuries on and after January 1, 2013, there shall be no increase in impairment ratings for the compensable consequence of a physical injury resulting in psyche, sleep, or sexual dysfunction or any combination thereof, an exception thereto being catastrophic injury which includes but is not limited to loss of a limb, paralysis, severe burn, or severe head injury.

Clearly the legislature, in enacting SB 863, continues the march to restrict psychiatric claims. This should reduce what now appears to be a routine of some physicians who report compensable consequence psychiatric injury, but the Labor Code and Regulations are silent as to what constitutes catastrophic injury and, as we all know, this breeds mischief.

Attacking Apportionment: Causation to Injury vs Causation to Impairment

by James J. Lee (December 8, 2014)

Workers' compensation law brings together the fields of law, insurance, medicine, and accounting, to name the more obvious ones. Often the law requires the other fields to succumb for its purposes, even when those fields have no interest in doing so. Apportionment is such an area.

Apportionment seeks to divide liability in an equitable fashion. Simply put, we need apportionment so that we know who is responsible for what.

Medicine, however, is disinterested in knowing what caused the controversy. Rather, physicians focus is on fixing the medical malady. So when a patient walks in with a traumatic brain injury, the first goal is to treat him or her. Only later, if there is time, will a physician concede who is responsible.

Striking The Expedited WCJ

by Sean W. Morrisroe (December 2, 2014)

The judge assigned for an expedited hearing may very well be the judge for all remaining hearings and trials on your case. So, if you do not want that judge, strike quickly!

Occasionally, the first hearing in a matter is an expedited hearing, set early in a case, over temporary disability or other priority issues. It often occurs even be before defense counsel appears in the case. For instance, the applicant’s attorney quickly files a Declaration of Readiness over alleged wrongful failure to pay temporary disability. An expedited hearing, the first hearing in the case, is then set within thirty (30) days with a designated judge per LC § 5502(b). Absent a quick “Petition for Automatic Reassignment” per CCR §10453, the assigned judge could very well be the judge for all future hearings in the case. Bottom line: if you do not want that judge on the case, you must quickly strike that judge.