The Califonia State Senate’s Labor, Public Employment and Retirement Committee passed SB-335 by a vote of 4-1, moving it on to a hearing by the Appropriations Committee on May 10th at 9am. The bill, proposed by Senator Dan Cortese (D-San Jose), would shorten the window for employers to reject workers’ compensation claims from 90 days to 45 days. This and other elements of the bill would radically change the way employers handle workers’ compensation claims, and the Workers’ compensation system itself. Critics of the bill have noted that concerns over increased numbers of denied claims, increased and unnecessary litigation, and elevated claim costs. The bill also appears to conflict with other regulations, including the timelines for QMEs to schedule ( within 60 days) and complete (within 30 days) evaluations.
Other sections of the bill:
- Would reduce the period that employers have for denying injuries covered by presumptions, from 90 days to 30, with a provision covering many of the state’s firefighters and other first responders
- Set the increase of awards for claims that are “unreasonably delayed or denied” at 10%. Current law currently provides an increase of the lesser of 25% or $10,000
- Increase the maximum amount of medical care funded by employers that is offered to workers during a claim investigation
SRTK will continue to closely monitor these legislative developments. As always, if you have questions about what these regulations or other developments may mean for you or your cases, please contact our offices.