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Kamin: Proposal to Reduce Decision Time Frame Fails in Assembly

By John P. Kamin

Wednesday, July 21, 2021 | 0

The Assembly Insurance Committee failed to pass Senate Bill 335’s proposal to reduce the 90-day decision time frame during its July 13 meeting.

John P. Kamin

John P. Kamin

The bill, which was introduced by Sen. Dan Cortese (D-San Jose), would have cut the decision time frame from the current 90 days down to 45 days for most claims. The bill also called for first responders’ presumption claims to have a 30-day decision time frame, which would have been a reduction from the current period of 45 days.

Thankfully, the committee was unwilling to approve these reductions, according to WorkCompCentral’s reporting on the committee’s mid-July meeting. Although the committee did not have enough votes to pass the bill — it had seven votes but needed eight — it would not have approved the reductions even with enough votes. Lawmakers said they would have amended the bill to eliminate the language reducing the decision time frames.

The main problem with the time frame reductions, which we summarized here back in May 2021, was that most defense attorneys and claims adjusters agreed that the bill would have led to far more denials. The California Workers’ Compensation Institute confirmed that in a detailed statistical analysis, which you can find here.

The bill also would have also hiked the monetary cap on medical treatment during the decision time frame from $10,000 up to $17,000. Another change would have increased penalties for wrongful denials of presumption claims from the current penalty of up to $10,000 to an increased penalty of up to $50,000.

So where did this come from? According to WorkCompCentral, Cortese is apparently eager to ramp up penalties against employers.

Rep. Tom Daly (D-Anaheim), who chairs the committee, said a penalty cap increase to $50,000 is unwarranted. However, the chairman added that he would be OK with increasing the penalty to $25,000.

“Without more evidence or data, a larger penalty in my view is not prudent, especially since the penalties are paid by public entities,” Daly said.

Cortese and Daly also showed mutual interest in commissioning a study on denials of presumption claims but did not take any formal action toward doing so.

Assuming that Gov. Gavin Newsom wins his recall election and the 2022 election, Daly hinted that there could be significant workers’ compensation reform bills during Newsom’s second term.

“We will be living with workers’ comp reform in the coming months and years,” he said.

That’s fine with us. We will be happy to continue posting updates on the latest legislative happenings here.

John P. Kamin is a workers’ compensation defense attorney and partner at Bradford & Barthel’s Woodland Hills location. He is WorkCompCentral's former legal editor. This entry from Bradford & Barthel's blog appears with permission.


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