Our L.A. Workers’ Comp Lawyers Discuss the Impact of Recent Changes to California Law:
The State of California passed a workers’ comp reform law (Senate Bill 863) at the end of 2012 that introduced many changes to how workers’ comp cases are handled. Because the new law went into effect at the beginning of 2014, our attorneys are just now seeing the effects of this law on our clients’ cases.
Independent Medical Review in Workers’ Compensation – Lawyers Los Angeles
One of the biggest changes made to the California Workers’ Compensation bill was the establishment of an “Independent Medical Review” process. Under the new law, when an injured worker seeking treatment has his or her case review “elevated”, a board of doctors (rather than a judge) now “makes the call”.
In other words: Previously treatment requests that were “elevated” (not approved initially) went before a judge. Under the new workers’ compensation law, treatments that are denied at the initial stage now go before an “Independent Medical Review Board” comprised of doctors.
The theory behind requiring this change was to save the State of California millions of dollars in administrative costs. But whether this will result in actual savings has yet to be seen.
Pros & Cons of IMR in Workers’ Compensation – Lawyers Los Angeles
Proponents of the IMR review process believe that medical doctors are much better able to understand the best treatment option(s) facing a workers’ comp recipient. However, critics suggest that the Independent Medical Review process may be less “fair” – or more “biased” in favor of Insurance companies wanting to limit treatment.
Of additional concern is the fact that the IMR review process already seems to be slowing down the review process. Currently a back-log exists in California for cases awaiting IMR review.
We took a look at the numbers to see what actual effect this change in Workers’ Comp law was having on actual injured workers.
According to currently available statistics, 75 percent of all medical treatment requests by workers/ comp recipients are being approved initially without necessitating further review.
This means that 25% (or one-fourth) of cases that are elevated for IMR review. Of this 25% approximately 24% have their treatment request denied or modified. The good news is that –when you do the math (24% of 25%) – only 5 percent of treatment requests are eventually either denied or modified!
This suggests that the new Independent Medical Review Process may be favorable for workers’ compensation recipients after all! Although only time will tell how the numbers eventually fall, we are optimistic that recipients of California’s worker compensation benefits may not be harmed by this change in law.
Free Consultation with a Los Angeles Area Workers’ Compensation Lawyer
With all of the uncertainties created by California’s changes to the workers compensation laws, it is more important than ever to discuss your case with a skilled and experienced worker’s comp attorney. If you are facing a workers compensation claim, call us today.