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TX - Commissioner to Study Impact of Switching to 6th Edition of AMA Guides

By Steve Nichols, News Contributor
09/27/2023 | 0

Texas Commissioner of Workers’ Compensation Jeff Nelson announced plans to study the impact of using the latest edition of the American Medical Association's Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment. Nelson said last week during quarterly meetings with health care providers and insurance carriers that the study would assess the effects of moving to the sixth edition of the AMA Guides from the fourth edition currently in use. "A lot of other states have made this change, and we have not,” Nelson said. “We have been working with the fourth edition for quite s... Read More

CA - School Volunteer Can't Pursue Civil Remedy for Catastrophic Injuries

09/27/2023 | 0

A California appellate court ruled that the exclusive remedy provision of the Labor Code barred a school volunteer from pursuing a civil remedy for her catastrophic injuries from falling while she was judging a spelling bee. Case: Perez v. Galt Joint Union Elementary School District, No. C092691, 09/25/2023, unpublished. Facts: In 2015, Anel Perez volunteered as a judge for the spelling bee held at River Oaks Elementary School, part of Galt Joint Union Elementary School District. Perez fell from the auditorium stage at the event and down a stairway. She suffered catastrophic injuries. ... Read More

CA - Court Overturns Citation Against Subcontractor for Valley Fever Exposure Risk

09/27/2023 | 0

A California appellate court overturned a citation against a subcontractor for its alleged failure to protect workers from potential exposure to the fungus that causes valley fever. Case: Granite Construction Co. v. Occupational Safety and Health Appeals Board (Department of Industrial Relations), No. C096704, 09/25/2023, unpublished. Facts: The California Flats Solar Project is a large power plant built on part of a former cattle ranch in the southeastern corner of Monterey County. Before the project’s installation, and as a condition of approval, the Monterey County Planning Departme... Read More

CA - Report: Countertop Workers Suffer Wave of Silicosis

09/27/2023 | 0

The Los Angeles Times reported that dozens of California workers who cut stone slabs for countertops have developed silicosis. According to the report, Los Angeles County is an epicenter for the disease, accounting for 60 of the 83 cases of countertop workers with silicosis reported since 2019. While the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health has standards intended to protect workers from exposure to crystalline silica dust, those standards are widely disregarded.  When the amount of silica dust in the air exceeds the permissible exposure limit of 50 micrograms per cubic... Read More

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Press - Bethany Howe Joins PhysNet's Senior Management Team

09/18/2023 | 0

Jacksonville, FL – Bethany Howe, a seasoned workers' compensation client-focused professional with over 16 years of industry expertise, has been named Vice President, Client Services with PhysNet. In her new capacity, Bethany will lead PhysNet's account and client services team, providing oversight to a program already known for customer service excellence. Founded in 2005, PhysNet is a rapidly growing national managed physical medicine network marked by outstanding service, clinical focus, and cutting-edge technology. PhysNet has innovated service delivery, provider utili... Read More

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Industry Insights

NATL. - Moore: Workers' Comp Knowledge Quiz

By James Moore
09/27/2023 | 0

Dealing with an abscessed tooth is no fun. I had to miss the National Workers' Compensation and Disability Conference conference in Vegas. I was going to do a classic-only newsletter and write no articles.  Skipping a week did not sound palatable. The answers to the workers' comp knowledge quiz will be provided later. If you wish to see other quizzes from the past, please click here.  Piling 10 links in the middle of the questions would ruin the readability. The hint links are at the bottom. Which insurance carrier was the first to provide worke... Read More

WV - High Court Upholds 17% PPD Award for Worker Injured in Car Accident

09/27/2023 | 0

The West Virginia Supreme Court upheld a 17% permanent partial disability award for a worker who was injured in a car accident. Case: Lawless v. Community Trust Bancorp Inc., No. 21-0833, 09/14/2023, published. Facts: Clovis Lawless worked for Community Trust Bancorp Inc. as a market president. He suffered injuries in a motor vehicle accident in July 2015. Lawless received workers’ compensation benefits for a concussion, post-concussion syndrome, neck strain, cervical strain and depression. In November 2019, Lawless saw Dr. P. Kent Thrush for an independent medica... Read More

WV - Supreme Court Upholds PPD Without Apportionment for Mine Worker

09/27/2023 | 0

The West Virginia Supreme Court upheld a determination that a mine worker had no preexisting, definitely ascertainable impairment to be apportioned out of his rating. Case: Blackhawk Mining LLC v. Blankenship, No. 22-0065, 09/14/2023, published. Facts: Richard Blankenship worked for Blackhawk Mining LLC as an electrician. He hit his head on a beam at work on March 19, 2019, and was diagnosed with a cervical sprain with radiculopathy. Dr. Donald Lewis reported that a computed tomography scan showed Blankenship had no acute fracture but had a right paracentral disc protrusion at C5-C6. Dr. R... Read More

NM - WCA Reviewing Fee Schedule Changes

09/27/2023 | 0

The New Mexico Workers’ Compensation Administration announced that it is considering changes to the 2023 Health Care Provider Fee Schedule. The WCA director’s Medical Advisory Committee will discuss potential revisions during a virtual public hearing Tuesday. After the meeting, the WCA plans to post the proposed revisions and updated billing instructions for next year to its website and open a public comment period. Comments will be accepted through the close of business on Oct. 16. Comments can be sent to the WCA Office of General Counsel by email at gc.clerk@state.nm.us. Comm... Read More

NE - WCC Rules Would Mandate Electronic Notice of Court Actions

09/27/2023 | 0

The Nebraska Workers’ Compensation Court is holding a public hearing Oct. 12 on proposed rules that would require electronic notice of court actions. The WCC is proposing to amend its rules to provide that, as part of the mandatory registration process for attorneys appearing before it, practitioners agree to receive notices, opinions, court entries and other orders or information in electronic format rather than by mail. Additional amendments would account for the fact that electronic notice will automatically generate certificates of service and remove references to paper-formatted c... Read More

WY - DWS Proposes 6.5% Base Rate Decrease

09/27/2023 | 0

The Wyoming Department of Workforce Services on Tuesday proposed a 6.5% average base rate decrease for 2024. “The Workers’ Compensation Division has conducted a thorough review of our financial stability and claims data, enabling us to implement rate adjustments that will benefit employers across the state,” Robin Sessions Cooley, director of the Department of Workforce Services, said in a statement. “This rate decrease is a testament to our commitment to fostering a favorable business environment, encouraging economic growth and ensuring the safety and well-b... Read More

AR - Substantial Evidence Supports Worker's Award of Additional Treatment, TTD

09/26/2023 | 0

The Arkansas Court of Appeals upheld an award of additional treatment and temporary total disability benefits to a fast food cook for his injuries from assisting a customer who had fallen at his restaurant. Jimmy Key III worked as a cook for McDonald’s. While he was at work in November 2019, a customer fell in the restaurant. Key was directed to help the customer up, and as he lifted the person, he allegedly felt a popping sensation in his back. Key informed his assistant manager that he was hurt, and he called his grandmother for a ride to the hospital. The emergency room... Read More

WV - Worker Can't Get Pain Management Referral, Expansion of Claim

09/26/2023 | 0

The West Virginia Supreme Court upheld a denial of a pain management referral and expansion of a worker’s claim. Case: Beavers v. McDowell County Board of Education, No. 21-1005, 09/14/2023, published. Facts: Pamela H. Beavers worked as a secretary for the McDowell County Board of Education. She filed a report of injury stating she had hurt herself in a fall in the parking lot of the high school at which she worked. Physician assistant Kelly Belt signed the report of injury, stating Beavers had sustained blunt force trauma to her right arm and shoulder. Beavers had X-rays taken, and ... Read More

WV - High Court Denies Longtime Mine Worker's Application for PTD Benefits

09/26/2023 | 0

The West Virginia Supreme Court upheld a denial of permanent total disability benefits for a longtime coal industry employee with a history of multiple work injuries. Case: McDaniel v. ANR Inc., No. 21-1006, 09/14/2023, published. Facts: Darrell McDaniel spent 41 years working in coal mines and suffered multiple work-related injuries. In May 2019, McDaniel filed a permanent total disability application indicating that he had been awarded 63.37% in permanent partial disability benefits from his various occupational injuries and diseases. His claim was referred to the Permanent Total Di... Read More

NY - Engineering Firm Not Entitled to Summary Judgment on Indemnification, Contribution Claims

09/26/2023 | 0

A New York appellate court ruled that an engineering and consulting firm for a bridge rehabilitation and painting project was not entitled to summary judgment dismissing the indemnification and contribution claims against it arising from a worker’s injuries. Case: Flood v. Ahern Painting Contractors Inc., No. 2020-09654, 09/20/2023, published. Facts and procedural history: Hughie Flood worked for the New York City Department of Transportation, Division of Bridges. He allegedly suffered injuries when he fell from a Brooklyn Bridge cable that had been defectively painted and treated... Read More

CA - CWCI Posts 10-Year Report on Payment Trends

09/26/2023 | 0

The California Workers’ Compensation Institute on Monday published a new study finding that paid losses on lost-time claims fell immediately after the reforms of SB 863 took effect at the start of 2013, then gradually increased until the pandemic hit. The result is that average paid losses on claims at all valuation points within 60 months of injury are higher than their post-reform lows, CWCI said. Only the most developed data on older claims from accident year 2016 is still showing declines in loss payments as a result of the most recent reforms. CWCI reports that average total paid ... Read More

OK - Trench Collapse Death Investigation Yields $82,149 in Fines

09/26/2023 | 0

The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration fined an Oklahoma contractor $82,149 following an investigation into the trench collapse that killed a project manager at a work site. OSHA said the project manager and workers employed by Rocking L Dozer and Land Management LLC were placing gravel around a sewer line in McAlester in May when the trench collapsed. The federal workplace safety agency said the employer failed to secure obstacles on the surface near the trench, failed to provide safe entry or exit to the trench, allowed standing water in the trench and failed to per... Read More