Tips on California Labor Code Section 4660.1

ATB LAW:  Helpful Hint:
The California Labor Code Sections 4660.1(c)(1) and (2)  provides for no more sleep/sex/psyche add ons.
1.      Sleep disorder and sexual dysfunction caused by a physical injury CANNOT cause an increase in the rating
2.      Psyche CANNOT cause an increase in the rating UNLESS it is due to:
a.    Violent act (LC 3208.3); or
b.    Direct exposure to significant violent act (LC 3208.3); or
c.    Catastrophic injury – including but not limited to loss of a limb, paralysis, severe burn, or severe head injury
For more please contact Kathleen Brundo, Co-Managing Partner

DWC WARNS ABOUT BAD FAITH LIEN NEGOTIATIONS

DWC WARNS ABOUT BAD FAITH LIEN NEGOTIATIONS:

The DWC has issued a warning about bad faith negotiations. They have stated that the DWC has received complaints indicating that payers are refusing to negotiate liens without proof that the lien claimants have filed with WCAB or paid the activation fee.

SB 863 requires lien claimants to pay $150 activation fee for liens filed after 1/1/13.

The DWC issued a press release on 2/27/13 stating:

“…that some payers have adopted a policy of refusing to discuss negotiating the provider’s liens until the provider of the services demonstrates it has filed a lien with the WCAB and paid the applicable lien filing or activation fee required by the enactment of SB 863.” Further, the DWC stated that such practices are directly contrary to the legislative intent of SB 863 as well as existing law.

This conduct by payers could expose them to sanctions, attorney fees and costs under Labor Code section 5813 as well as other audit penalties under California Code of Regulations section 10109(e).

Workers’ Compensation SB863 Includes Lien Reform

The recently passed workers compensation legislation, SB 863, is intended to have cost saving implications for California employers as well as increased benefits to injured workers, especially permanent disability benefits. SB 863 includes lien reform which is intended to help clear the system of lingering and inadmissible liens and free up the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board (WCAB) hearing calendar. One specific element of the lien reform is that as of January 1st, 2013, SB 863 now requires lien claimants pay a $100 activation fee for liens filed before that date.

The new Labor Code for these fees is section 4903.06 which states:

4903.06. (a) Any lien filed pursuant to subdivision (b) of Section 4903 prior to January 1, 2013, and any cost that was filed as a lien prior to January 1, 2013, shall be subject to a lien activation fee unless the lien claimant provides proof of having paid a filing fee as previously required by former Section 4903.05 as added by Chapter 639 of the Statutes of 2003.

(1) The lien claimant shall pay a lien activation fee of one hundred dollars ($100) to the Division of Workers’ Compensation on or before January 1, 2014. The fee shall be collected through an electronic payment system that accepts major credit cards and any additional forms of electronic payment selected by the administrative director. If the administrative director contracts with a service provider for the processing of electronic payments, any processing fee shall be absorbed by the division and not added to the fee charged to the lien filer.

(2) The lien claimant shall include proof of payment of the filing fee or lien activation fee with the declaration of readiness to proceed.

(3) The lien activation fee shall be collected by the administrative director. All fees shall be deposited in the Workers’ Compensation Administration Revolving Fund and applied for the purposes of that fund. The administrative director shall adopt reasonable rules and regulations governing the procedure for the collection of the lien activation fee and to implement this section, including emergency regulations, as necessary.

(4) All lien claimants that did not file the declaration of readiness to proceed and that remain a lien claimant of record at the time of a lien conference shall submit proof of payment of the activation fee at the lien conference. If the fee has not been paid or no proof of payment is available, the lien shall be dismissed with prejudice.

(5) Any lien filed pursuant to subdivision (b) of Section 4903 prior to January 1, 2013, and any cost that was filed as a lien prior to January 1, 2013, for which the filing fee or lien activation fee has not been paid by January 1, 2014, is dismissed by operation of law.

(b) This section shall not apply to any lien filed by a health care service plan licensed pursuant to Section 1349 of the Health and Safety Code, a group disability insurer under a policy issued in this state pursuant to the provisions of Section 10270.5 of the Insurance Code, a self-insured employee welfare benefit plan, as defined in Section 10121 of the Insurance Code, that is issued in this state, a Taft-Hartley health and welfare fund, or a publicly funded program providing medical benefits on a nonindustrial basis.

Thus the lien claimant must pay the $100 activation fee before January 1, 2014. If there is no activation fee paid then a defendant can move for dismissal. You can determine whether the fee has been paid by checking EAMS (Electronic Adjudication Management System).

By Kathleen L. Brundo, Co-Managing Partner

Public Hearing Set for Medical Provider Network (MPN) Rules

Adelson, Testan, Brundo, Novell & Jimenez (ATB Law) would like to make its audience aware that the California Division of Workers’ Compensation (DWC) will be holding a public hearing to discuss issues and changes connected with the Medical Provider Networks, or MPNs, following the passage of SB 863 last year. The term MPN was coined in 2005 as a way to describe health care providers and groups maintained by insurers and self-insured employers and approved by the DWC for workers’ compensation cases. SB 863 will bring significant changes to the way that MPNs operate in workers’ compensation claims. The DWC hearing will be the first occasion for members of the public to supply recommendations on these MPN changes as part of the state rulemaking process.

The details for this hearing are as follows:

January 31, 2013

10 AM to 12 noon

Elihu Harris State Office Building Auditorium

1515 Clay Street

Oakland, CA 94612

All Employers Should Have a Voice in the Rule making Process

It is hoped that the pending reforms will reduce costs to employers while developing a more navigable workers’ compensation system for all. The DWC is seeking public input on a variety of issues, including new MPN applicants, MPN audits and investigations, and the Independent Medical Review process. Employers will have the opportunity to participate in the formation of regulations for these new processes on January 31, and will also be able to share input on other facets of the law.

Adelson, Testan, Brundo, Novell & Jimenez believes it is important for employers to have a voice in workers’ compensation legislation, and encourages all employers potentially impacted by the coming changes to send a representative to this hearing and voice any suggestions or concerns they may have.

 

2013 MCLE Compliance Requirements for Attorneys

Adelson, Testan, Brundo & Jimenez would like to remind all California attorneys that the reporting deadline for 2013 MCLE Compliance is 01/31/13. All attorneys with licenses in active status with last names beginning A through G who do not have an exemption are required to report the minimum continuing legal education completed by this date. Remember, an attorney’s reporting group does not change due to a change in last name, so attorneys must report according to the group with which they originally registered.

MCLE Compliance Groups by Last Name

According to the State Bar of California, “members are assigned to a compliance group only once and remain in that same group, even if the member subsequently changes his/her last name.”  The groups differ slightly depending on the time members were admitted:

  • Members admitted on or before Feb. 1, 1992 were assigned to a compliance group based on the first letter of their last name, as listed on their official State Bar records, effective Feb. 1, 1992 (the beginning of the MCLE program).
  • Members admitted after Feb. 1, 1992 are assigned to a compliance group based on the first letter of the last name listed on their admit cards. Admit cards are filled out when they are sworn in as a members of the State Bar.

2013 MCLE Reporting Requirements

The 2013 MCLE Compliance requirements are 25 hours of education including special requirements, no more than half of which may be self-study. However, these hours may be reduced or eliminated for attorneys qualifying for certain exemptions, though these individuals must still report:

  • Proportional requirements for attorneys who were admitted or voluntarily inactive during the three year reporting period
  • Officers, elected officials, and full-time employees of the State of California
  • Full-time professors at accredited law schools
  • Attorneys or judges employed full-time by the federal government

Adelson, Testan, Brundo &Jimenez believes it is important for attorneys to note that certifications of 2013 MCLE Compliance are taken under penalty of perjury, and urges attorneys to ensure that all coursework completed meets the minimum requirements before certifying the same. Recent audits by the State Bar have found attorneys out of compliance, and audit rates for all attorneys are increasing as a result.

Adelson, Testan, Brundo & Jimenez Suggestions for Keeping in Compliance

The attorneys of Adelson, Testan et al. have decades of experience in keeping in compliance with MCLE rules and share the following tips for attorneys new to practice or even those who could use a reminder.

  • Keep attendance certificates and all coursework for completed CLE courses for at least one year after the reporting period. Making digital copies is an easy and inexpensive way to duplicate records and protect against loss.
  • Confirm that all CLE courses and providers used are approved by the State Bar.
  • Print out the confirmation that MCLE has been reported through the online My State Bar Profile as a secondary record.

If for any reason an attorney misses the 2013 MCLE Compliance reporting deadline, the State Bar will assess a $75 fine and allow the attorney 60 days to return to compliance before enacting an administrative license suspension. Attorneys should complete MCLE as early as possible and report accurately to avoid penalties.

 

Nebraska Follows Other States Covering Workers’ Comp for Undocumented Workers

Adelson, Testan, Brundo & Jimenez (ATB Law) is committed to providing timely and practical information to employers concerned about workers’ compensation, and recent news from the state of Nebraska bears dissemination. The Nebraska Supreme Court recently ruled that illegal immigrants in the state are entitled to the same workers’ compensation disability benefits as legal workers, placing Nebraska among a growing number of states with comparable laws.

In its ruling on Moyera v. Quality Pork International, the Nebraska Supreme Court noted the legal inconsistency in denying workers’ compensation to illegal immigrants when this group is permitted to sue employers under tort law to recover damages in such cases. The Court also stated in its opinion that denying these individuals such benefits could incentivize the hiring of illegal immigrants, as by doing so employers could potentially avoid liability for workplace injuries by hiring illegal rather than legal workers.

Coverage for Illegal Immigrants Varies from State to State

Florida, Nevada, Texas, and Utah already have similar laws requiring employers to cover disability benefits for injuries sustained by illegal immigrants in the workplace. California also requires employers to pay workers’ compensation claims for illegal immigrants. Other states may expressly prohibit illegal immigrants from receiving workers’ compensation; Idaho and Wyoming are two states with such laws on the books. Still other states have ambiguous positions on this issue.

The differences in state laws can create obstacles for businesses with locations in multiple states that may have conflicting laws. The workers’ compensation attorneys of Adelson Testan et al. are aware of the uncertainties this causes for employers, and are prepared to help clients navigate the legal patchwork this situation creates in the following states:

  • California
  • Connecticut
  • Florida
  • Illinois
  • Iowa
  • Missouri
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • New Jersey
  • Oklahoma
  • Pennsylvania
  • Texas

Whether your business requires workers’ compensation defense or workers’ compensation consultation to lower costs and reduce uncertainty, Adelson, Testan, Brundo & Jimenez are available to help. Contact us today to learn more about our firm’s comprehensive workers’ compensation defense services.

 

Worker’s Comp Defense Attorney Matthew Kearl Conquers Mt. Whitney

Matthew Kearl, Partner at Adelson, Testan, Brundo & Jimenez’ Van Nuys Office, has surmounted Mount Whitney. At an elevation of 14,505 feet, Mount Whitney is the highest summit in the contiguous 48 US states and one of the highest on the North American continent. Mount Whitney is unique because not only is it the highest summit in the US, but its summit affords stunning views of the lowest point in the nation, the famed Death Valley.

Meeting the Challenge

Mount Whitney is a challenging climb for even the most experienced individuals. Since it is made up of granite, a surface that can be formidable in even the best hiking conditions, aspiring climbers must thoroughly plan and prepare for summiting the mountain. In addition to the challenges posed by the hiking and climbing surface, climbers must:

  • Follow best practices for avoiding conflicts with the bears and other wildlife that call Mount Whitney home;
  • Do without campfires or artificial heat during their time on the mountain;
  • Be prepared for inclement weather, which at such high elevations can become a major problem in a short period of time.

Summiting Success

Given these difficulties, why do individuals like Kearl summit these challenging mountains? In addition to enjoying the mountain scenery as a reward for the intense effort, summiting a peak like Mount Whitney brings successful climbers into a select group of “summiters,” an extraordinary accomplishment that comes from dedication, determination, and focus – some of the same qualities that allowed Kearl to become one of the top workers’ compensation defense attorneys in the nation.

Matthew Kearl served as California Deputy Attorney General from 1998 to 1999, and embarked on his career as a workers’ compensation defense attorney in 1999. Adelson, Testan, Brundo & Jimenez is fortunate to have him as partner at their Van Nuys office and congratulate him on this notable accomplishment.

 

 

Adelson, Testan, Brundo & Jimenez Welcomes the First Participants in Their Newly Established ATB Legal Institute

Earlier this month, Adelson, Testan, Brundo & Jimenez (ATB Law) announced the formation of the ATB Legal Institute, a 12-week program in which recent law school graduates will work closely with ATB Law attorneys while receiving classroom instruction. The ATB Legal Institute was created to provide new attorneys with a valuable start to their legal careers by serving as a bridge between their law school education and their entry into the workers’ compensation defense field. Additionally, the ATB Legal Institute will identify selected, promising new attorneys for consideration for careers with Adelson, Testan, et.al.

The ATB Legal Institute Provides Abundant Benefits for New Attorneys

According to Kathleen L. Brundo, co-managing partner of Adelson, Testan, Brundo & Jimenez and leader of the ATB Legal Institute, “the practice of workers’ compensation defense law requires a unique combination of legal knowledge, communication and people skills, enthusiasm and insight that generally takes years to develop.” Adelson, Testan, Brundo & Jimenez hopes to advance the development of these skills for recent graduates recruited to the program. The benefits to those recruited to the program include:

  • A salary for the 12-week program
  • Hands on legal experience
  • Mentorship by an individual ATB partner
  • Participation in classes held by ATB partners and senior attorneys

At present, participants will be recruited from California law schools, including Pepperdine, Loyola, and Southwestern, where Ms. Brundo is an alumnus. As Southwestern Law School’s Dean Austin Parrish said of the program, “The ATB Legal Institute serves as a wonderful and innovative model program for helping promising new law graduates transition into specialty areas of the law.”

Adelson, Brundo, Testan & Jimenez Continues to Be a Thought Leader with the ATB Legal Institute

Since its founding in 1996, Adelson, Brundo, Testan & Jimenez has prided itself in bringing innovation to the practice of defending workers’ compensation claims. Whether through community outreach, its continuing education library for attorneys and clients, or its ongoing seminar and event series, Adelson, Brundo, Testan & Jimenez is committed to staying actively involved in the communities they serve. The ATB Legal Institute is the most recent example of how Adelson, Brundo, Testan & Jimenez is seeking to make a difference and give back to the community.

The inaugural class of the ATB Legal Institute will shortly welcome four recent graduates to twelve weeks working with and learning from the partners and attorneys of Adelson, Brundo, Testan & Jimenez. We look forward to meeting these promising individuals, and many future classes of participants through the ATB Legal Institute. For more information, please contact Ms. Brundo at kathleenbrundo@atblaw.net.

 

 

 

Diversity Is Valued Through Inclusiveness at Adelson, Testan, Brundo & Jimenez

Adelson, Testan, Brundo & Jimenez (ATB Law) believes in and supports diversity, not only by recognizing the value of differences between individuals, but also by supporting a culture of inclusiveness within the firm and with our clients.

We believe that any form of diversity helps strengthen an organization and community, but at ATB we take our commitment to diversity a step further and it’s reflected in our wonderful staff. Adelson, Testan, Brundo & Jimenez attorneys, associates and support staff represent a huge variety of different backgrounds and can offer services in all of the following languages:

Afrikaans

French

Korean

Spanish

Arabic

German

Mandarin

Swedish

Armenian

Greek

Marathi

Taiwanese

English

Hindi

Punjabi

Urdu

Farsi

Italian

Russian

Vietnamese

Adelson, Testan et al. also believes that diversity is more than language and culture. Diversity encompasses all backgrounds, beliefs, experiences, and worldviews. We recognize and value all different types of diversity, including that of race, sex, age, sexual orientation, and even personal interests.

One of the ways that we encourage inclusiveness for all groups is through community outreach programs and support. The organizations our firm supports are as diverse as Adopt a Fire Station, Cerritos College Women’s Soccer, and the Southern California Latvian School, just to name three of among over 100 programs to which Adelson, Testan, Brundo & Jimenez has contributed.

Adelson, Testan, Brundo & Jimenez actively supports diversity throughout our firm with our recruitment efforts and by offering internal mentoring programs and diversity trainings. This not only enhances our ability to serve clients but also enables us to connect more closely with them and with the communities in which we live and work.

Our firm embraces diversity in all of its many forms, in our office and in our communities. Adelson, Testan, Brundo & Jimenez believes that on a macro level, diversity makes the world a more enriching place for all. On a more local level, diversity strengthens the community by incorporating different ideas, viewpoints, and backgrounds. And at Adelson, Testan, Brundo & Jimenez, diversity makes us a stronger firm.

 

 

Adelson Testan Brundo & Jimenez Share Worker’s Comp Expertise with Self-Insurers

Recently three attorneys from the Oklahoma City office of Adelson, Testan, Brundo & Jimenez (ATB Law) participated in the annual Oklahoma Self-Insurers Association Conference in Tulsa, OK. Associate attorneys D. Craig Johnston and James Gaston along with managing partner Linda Foreman shared their expertise gleaned over years of counseling self-insured clients in regards to workers’ compensation and insurance claims.

The Oklahoma Self-Insurers Association (OSIA) represents self-insured employers, group self-insurance associations, municipal governments, higher education institutions, public school districts, hospitals, as well as vendors and providers who deliver services and products to self-insurers. OSIA’s stated mission is “to preserve, protect, and promote the rights and privileges of employers of Oklahoma who assume certain risks and liabilities by self-insuring.”

OSIA is a member of the National Council of Self Insurers (NCSI), a national organization dedicated to monitoring federal rules and regulations regarding the rights and responsibilities of self-insured employers. To support the mission of OSIA and NCIS, Adelson, Testan, Brundo & Jimenez attorneys shared their knowledge of workers’ compensation defense in relation to self-insurance with the members of the OSIA at their last annual conference held at the Hard Rock Hotel in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

As a national workers’ compensation defense firm, Adelson, Testan, et al. has extensive experience in defending self-insured employers and their third party administrators against workers’ compensation claims in the following twelve states:

  • California
  • Connecticut
  • Florida
  • Illinois
  • Iowa
  • Missouri
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • New Jersey
  • Oklahoma
  • Pennsylvania
  • Texas

There are unique opportunities and challenges presented in defending employers who have chosen to self-insure their worker’s compensation liabilities. With many years of experience, Adelson, Testan, Brundo & Jimenez is especially adept at protecting the legal rights of their self-insured clients. For more information or to schedule an appointment with one of our lawyers, please do not hesitate to contact us today.