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Recap of DWC 20th Conference

March 6th, 2013

Hello, dear readers!  Your humble blogger brings you news of the DWC conference held in Oakland on Monday and Tuesday.  As a side note, if you haven’t attended this conference, you really should – next year will probably have a few more answers than this year, and it is worth every dollar and every minute you put into it.

There were several interesting speakers, but no reception, so your humble blogger was even more humble as he tried to post on the goings on.

In any case, the following are some highlights from the lectures and speakers.  I’ve avoided naming names because some speakers asked that they not be quoted.

  1. Something horrible is coming, but we don’t know what…

The general consensus of the speakers was that they had no idea how SB-863 would play out, and the law leaves countless questions unanswered… which will be answered at trial and on appeal.  In any case, be ready to litigate just about everything!

  1. No more PDAs?

Adjusters should be aware that there will be no more PD advances if an offer of regular, modified, or alternative work has been made until there is an award.  So the worker should go from getting TTD to a paycheck, rather than TTD to a paycheck and PD.   (See Labor Code section 4650(b)(2).)  It remains to be seen if merely making an offer is enough.  For example, if the applicant has been terminated for cause, but the employer could accommodate him or her, must advances still be made if an offer has been communicated?

  1. “I love new forms!” said no one ever

There is a new form available to request medical treatment.  So adjustors should keep an eye out for incomplete forms, because the incomplete form does NOT trigger the Utilization Review timeline.  However, the claims adjustor or examiner will be require to document his or her attempts to obtain the missing information.  So send an e-mail or fax returning the form marked “incomplete” and ask for the missing info, and then you can take your finger off the UR button.

  1. The cat-like MPN now has nine lives

California Labor Code section 4616.3(b) states that an MPN is not made invalid solely by an employer’s failure to post proper notices.  Realistically, even if proper notices were posted, the difficulty and expense in litigating and proving that the notices were posted makes them effectively not posted.  One speaker recommended having employees sign a document acknowledging receipt of notice of the MPN.

  1. Never mind about that Valdez thing

Several speakers made the point that the issue before the California Supreme Court in the Valdez matter is now moot – Labor Code section 4605, as amended, allows non-MPN treating physicians to treat injured workers at the workers’ expense.  Furthermore, the report can be used, but cannot be the sole basis for an award.

There’s too much good stuff to go into everything, which is why you should attend next year!  But here’s the biggest thing to take away from the conference – all of the authorities, from attorneys to judges and everyone in between, kept chanting the mantra “I don’t know.”  No one knows how everything is going to work out, and your panel of attorneys is going to find out for you through litigation.

Don’t be scared by this, get excited – this is yet another opportunity to invest some time and effort and aggressively shape the landscape of workers’ comp until the next reform.

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