The Assembly Insurance Committee failed to pass Senate Bill 335’s proposal to reduce the 90-day decision timeframe during its July 13 meeting.
The bill, which was introduced by Sen. Dan Cortese (D-San Jose), would have cut the decision timeframe from the current 90-day timeframe down to 45 days for most claims. The bill also called for first responders’ presumption claims to have a 30-day decision timeframe, which would have been a reduction from the current timeframe for 45 days.
Thankfully, the Assembly Insurance 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 – they had 7 votes, and needed 8 – they would not have approved the reductions even if they did have enough votes. Lawmakers said that they would have amended the bill to eliminate the language reducing the decision timeframes.
The main problem with the timeframe 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. CWCI 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 timeframe from $10,000 up to $17,000. Another change would have increased penalties for wrongful denials of presumption claims from the current penalty of 25% or up to $10,000, to an increased penalty of $25% or up to $50,000.
So where did this come from? According to the quotes in this WorkCompCentral article, apparently Sen. Cortese really is eager to ramp up penalties against employers.
Rep. Tom Daly (D-Anaheim), who chairs the committee, said that a penalty cap increase to $50,000 is unwarranted. However, the chairman added that he would be okay with increasing the penalty cap up 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 in office.
“We will be living with workers’ comp reform in the coming months and years,” he said.
That’s fine with us at the Law Offices of Bradford & Barthel. We will be happy to continue to post any new legislative updates on the latest legislative happenings here at www.bradfordbarthel.com/blog/.
Got a question about workers’ compensation defense issues involving the coronavirus? Feel free to contact John P. Kamin. Mr. Kamin is a workers’ compensation defense attorney and partner at Bradford & Barthel’s Woodland Hills location, where he monitors the recent legislative affairs as the firm’s Director of the Editorial Board. Mr. Kamin previously worked as a journalist for WorkCompCentral, where he reported on work-related injuries in all 50 states. Please feel free to contact John at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (818) 654-0411.
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