Senate Bill 899 created a new procedure described in Labor Code Section 4062.2 to obtain medical legal reports through the Panel QME process for injuries after 1/1/05. The idea of having one doctor to evaluate an injured worker instead of two doctors with diametrically opposed views seemed like a good idea at the outset. However, the PQME process in place has proven to be flawed and ineffective for many trying to navigate the system.
Over time, the parties have encountered flaws when using the PQME process and have availed themselves to the right to request a replacement panel under 8 CCR Section 31.5(a). This has led to significant delays, additional discovery costs and misuse of Board time. There are sixteen different reasons enumerated under Section 31.5(a) for a party to request a replacement panel. Numerous panel requests have led to cases having more than five panels issued and delays of upwards to a year in scheduling a panel evaluation from the date the original panel was requested.
Have you been denied an expeditious panel process under Labor Code Section 4062.2?
Under Labor Code Section 5701, the Appeals Board may from time to time direct any employee claiming compensation to be examined by a regular physician. We have successfully petitioned to the WCAB for the appointment of a medical-legal evaluator under Labor Code Section 5701 in cases where the medical legal process has been unreasonably and unnecessarily delayed beyond the control of the parties despite their efforts. An example is when multiple Panel’s have issued over the period of one year and after the striking process was completed, the remaining physician was unable to schedule the examination within the statutory time frame, and the parties were unable to agree upon an AME. The WCJ in the interests of expediting resolution of the medical-legal process, pursuant to Labor Code 5701, appointed a physician to resolve the medical-legal dispute. A significant amount of litigation continues to exist with selecting and obtaining a Panel QME. If you are experiencing delays in the panel process, Labor Code Section 5701 may offer a more expeditious resolution of the medical-legal process.
Contact Brand Peters LLP to receive your free initial consultation today with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney.