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Online QME Request Videos Are Up!

Do you love the panel process? Do you hate computers? Are you ready to be frustrated to the point of filing a psyche claim, only to be forced to submit a panel request online and thereby enter into a vicious cycle of litigation and psychosis?  GOOD NEWS! The DWC has posted online tutorials on how to submit panel requests online!

Starting October 1, 2015, represented parties will be able to submit their panel requests online.  Although the form is not available yet – you can check it out here.

The frustrating thing is that unrepresented workers are currently barred from using the online panel form.  On the bright side, since all represented claims will now be processed online and immediately, the Medical Unit should be able to, very quickly, turn these panel requests around and get unrepresented injured workers their panels.

Now, we’re delving into your humble blogger’s wicked little fantasies here, but you know what your humble blogger would like to see on unrepresented panel requests?  A declaration, under penalty of perjury, that the undersigned “is not being represented, advised, or counseled by any attorney, hearing representative, or law firm with respect to the submission of this panel request or the selection of any panel Qualified Medical Evaluators therefrom.”

Why? Why, indeed.

Labor Code section 4062.1, which governs unrepresented worker panel requests, allows the party submitting the panel request form to designate the panel specialty, but gives the worker a 10-day head-start.  This means that there’s no race to the Medical Unit, and there’s also no debate about which panel specialty should control if two panel requests are received on the same day.  Likewise, section 4062.1 allows the unrepresented worker to select a PQME from the panel, without engaging in the strike process.  I will remind you, dear readers, that the Legislature afforded no such benefits to defendants for starving their attorneys of billable hours.

So, what’s to stop an applicant’s attorney from informally advising an injured worker, guiding him or her to request a panel in a litigation-oriented specialty, rather than a medically appropriate one, and also guiding him or her to select the PQME most likely to be persuaded by impairment-inflating arguments, such as Almaraz-Guzman based inquiries?

Well, don’t look to the California Rules of Court for help – Rule 3.37(a), although on its face limited to civil proceedings, holds that “an attorney who contracts with a client to draft or assist in drafting legal documents, but not to make an appearance in the case, is not required to disclose within the text of the documents that he or she was involved in preparing the documents.”  So, an attorney could, informally and for “free” help an injured worker through this process, and then notice his or her representation after the first evaluation.

Admittedly, your humble blogger is a bit of a cynic and is probably a little bit paranoid… but you could see how this plays out, right?  Guys? Come on…

Anyway, barring technical difficulties (and the litigation those difficulties will undoubtedly cause), we’re about to start the streamlined panel request process.  Mark your calendars, dear readers.

Remember folks, that “the Medical Unit will not accept or process panel requests on the QME Form 106 postmarked after September 3, 2015…” (New section 30(b).)

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