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IMR Can Be Late! Defendants Rejoice!

Hello dear readers!

Your humble blogger is bursting with delight to bring you news of a great victory for defendants everywhere: IMR is not bound by time limitations!

The Court of Appeal ruled in the matter of CHP v. WCAB, Margaris that “the 30-day time limit in section 4610.6, subdivision (d), is directory and, accordingly, an untimely IMR determination is valid and binding upon the parties as the final determination of the director.”  What does that mean?  That means that it doesn’t matter how long it takes IMR to decide on an issue – the parties must sit and wait and be bound by the eventual determination.

IMR Is Never Late. Nor is it early. It arrives precisely when it means to.

IMR Is Never Late. Nor is it early. It arrives precisely when it means to.

Why is this such a good thing for defendants? Well, medical treatment isn’t medical treatment to the defense – it’s money.  Every day that the defendant does not have to pay for a treatment that is medically unnecessary is another day that the defendant gets to protect its money from wasteful spending.  Less money out means lower rates and less exposure for businesses and employers.  That, of course, means lower prices for the rest of us.

The Court of Appeal noted, of course, that it was implementing “the Legislature’s stated policy that decisions regarding the necessity and appropriateness of medical treatment should be made by doctors, not judges.”

As my learned and diligent readers may recall, the Court of Appeal held in Stevens that not only is IMR constitutional, but that there is no mechanism for enforcing the time limits imposed by section 4610.6 – even a late IMR determination is constitutional.

One of the great things about this is that the fact that IMR has more time to make a determination once UR has denied treatment is that it puts parties in the proper posture to settle their case.  Yes, the applicant wants a particular course of treatment.  No, it isn’t medically necessary or reasonable.  But, through the magic of money, the parties can agree to disagree – an injured worker can sell out the treatment to which he is entitled but doesn’t want, in order to buy the treatment he wants but to which he isn’t entitled.

And the best part is – everybody walks away happy and a winner.

Have a great weekend, folks!

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