by Sahar Jaberi –
Despite what some may contend, the requirements for requesting an Expedited Hearing are quite broad per the Labor Code.
Labor Code Section 5502 sets out specific requirements for requesting an Expedited Hearing. Of course, the claim must be accepted and the issues are generally limited to medical treatment, entitlement to temporary disability benefits, whether there is a validly established MPN, or disputes among carriers as to who should pay benefits.
This seems pretty straightforward, right? After all, these requirements are spelled out on the face of the DOR.
According to some, these commonly used conditions are the only appropriate instances a party can request to set a matter for Expedited Hearing and failing to follow these guidelines may be sanctionable. But wait, not so fast…
In looking closer at Labor Code section 5502, one will find additional conditions warranting an Expedited Hearing. Although not as frequently used, these conditions are just as valid.
The Labor Code states that “the administrative director shall establish a priority calendar for issues requiring an expedited hearing and decision.” These issues include (in addition to those listed above) medical treatment appointment or medical-legal examinations, and “[a]ny other issues requiring expedited hearing and determination as prescribed in rules and regulations of the administrative director.”
Even though some judges and attorneys interpret Labor Code 5502 to mean that Expedited Hearings can only be requested for issues regarding treatment with the primary treating physician, it goes beyond to include not only the “any other issues” catch all provision, but also outline that issues related to medical-legal evaluations are appropriate circumstances for requesting an Expedited Hearing.
So the next time a judge or another attorney challenges the filing of an expedited hearing on a non-traditional issue, such as failure of an applicant to attend a med-legal evaluation, double check the law, as there is explicit language supporting you!
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