Home > Uncategorized > Interpreter Fees: 2 Hours Min. AT the Market Rate? No!!!!!

Interpreter Fees: 2 Hours Min. AT the Market Rate? No!!!!!

Happy Monday, dear readers!

Last week, your humble blogger managed to have a cup of coffee with one of the bright young minds helping to shape the workers’ compensation world.  She expressed some understandable frustration with interpreter bills.

For those trying to follow along, California Code of Regulations section 9795.3(b) provides that interpreters get paid at a set rate for a minimum of half day or full day for hearings, arbitrations, or deposition (subsection 1) or $11.25 for every quarter hour, for a minimum payment of two hours for “all other events (subsection 2).  In the alternative, interpreters are to be paid the market rate.

My zealous colleague asked a fairly simple question – why do we pay the minimum hours AT the market rate?  Should market rate be for actual time spent, and set rates with minimum times for the rest?

Let’s say an interpreter provided one hour of interpreter services for a medical appointment and is able to establish that the market rate is $50 per hour for interpreters.  Well, either the interpreter is entitled to $50 (the market rate for the time spent) or $45 per hour for a two-hour minimum as per section 9795.3(b)(2), or $90.  The interpreter should NOT be entitled to a minimum of two hours AT the market rate, right?

Clearly, any theory that results in a reduction in liens and fees to be paid by WC defendants is on the right track and deserves our unwavering support.  Given my own experience that workers’ compensation Judges sometimes like to see something other than your humble blogger’s endorsement of an idea, I thought some research might be warranted.

Among the sources found was the case of Guitron v. Santa Fe Extrudes, an en banc case from 2011.  Therein, the WCAB held that “[w]hile $11.25 per quarter hour, or market rate, as proven by lien claimant, appears to be a reasonable standard, we are not prepared to conclude that the two-hour minimum applies to all medical appointments, some of which might take only 10 to 15 minutes.”

In a 2010 panel decision, Mendez v. Santa Barbara Farms, the commissioners actually went the other way, holding that the lien claimant was entitled to the “market rate” of $115 for two hours, but this was based on other defendants rolling over and paying the full fees to establish the “market rate.”

Your humble blogger wasn’t able to find too much more on this argument, but from the looks of it the field is wide open in terms of binding authority for making this sort of argument.

So, anyone willing to give this a try?  Please let your humble blogger know how it goes!

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  1. R
    March 6th, 2017 at 10:23 | #1

    Or why do interpreters at the board get paid the half day hearing rate for each case they appear on when they are sometimes appearing on 10 cases in the morning and 10 cases in the afternoon?

  2. Daryn W. Diaz
    March 6th, 2017 at 10:30 | #2

    Down here in sunny Southern California, Spanish interpreters get $165.00 for a half day in court and $250.00/hour for deposition prep!

  3. Richard Berryhill
    March 6th, 2017 at 12:23 | #3

    I’ve fought a lot of interpreter liens in the past and the problem was always “market rate.” Interpreters were always able to bring in large numbers of bills paid at horrid rates and my clients either ended up paying the amount billed, or (in most cases) simply did not want to pay an attorney to battle the liens out even when there were other, far stronger defenses such as lack of any qualifications at all. So defendants got absolutely nothing from this Labor Code requiring payment “at the higher of” the code rate or “market rate.” Typical amounts were $300 for a 15 minute exam, PLUS travel from Oakland to San Jose for a hearing, when the interpreter lived in San Jose to begin with.

    There are always a large number of carriers who simply pay the interpreter bills and march on, and until they decide not to do that, the interpreters will win.

  4. Martin Hanke
    March 15th, 2017 at 16:23 | #4

    The two hour minimum is to protect an interpreter receives a living wage, and the market rate is to insure the same in expensive areas like the SF Bay Area. When I charge a market rate it is for a two hour minimum total. Though some appointments are less than two hours with the doctor or P.A., there is wait time , some doctors are behind 45 minutes or more quite frequently. I personally have rarely gotten in to see my doctor on time even though I get there early. There is usually wait time, filling out paperwork time, actual appointment visit time, next appointment making time and possibly waiting for medicines time. This all takes up time for the interpreter. Would anyone be willing to cross town for fifteen minutes of work, where you might get enough to be worthy of your time, but you might not? Me neither.

    • Gregory Grinberg
      March 16th, 2017 at 11:47 | #5

      Martin – have you ever appeared as an interpreter for more than one case at a WCAB hearing? If so, do you split the billing for your time or do you bill both carriers for the full time you were there?

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