Tuesday, May 24, 2011
While this senate bill 11-199 is awaiting the governor's signature I expect it to become law. There are 4 provisions in the bill worth noting. First, it requires that the insurer pay costs in advance, if requested by the claimant, for an insurer IME or vocational evaluation. This means the cost for the claimant to travel, food and even a hotel must be paid or the claimant can refuse to attend. If they pay and claimant does not attend they can get an offset from future compensation due the claimant. Next, a Final Admission must admit for future recommended treatment by the authorized doctor unless there is a record of a contrary medical opinion. This prevents the insurer from disregarding physician maintenance treatment once the claimant reaches MMI. At times insurers never admit for further treatment even though its need is undisputed. A claimant may think or even be told by the doctor he can get further treatment only to be denied by the insurer and the bill seeks to avoid such a practice. Third,procedurally it corrects a discovery matter by not requiring those represented by an attorney to first ask permission before starting discovery. That extra step (documenting you asked permission) seemed just a waste of time and paper. Last, the bill makes it clear that any lump sum request regardless of the date of injury is not a waiver of the right to seek permanent total benefits. For those readers not familiar with the last issue the history of it is a claimant would receive an admission for permanent partial benefits of a certain amount, let us say $30000.00, and yet feel he was much more disabled so he'd seek permanent total disability benefits. Since by law the admission had to be paid out every other week the claimant sought it in a lump sum. That was deemed a waiver of his claim for permanent total benefits. The poor claimant was stopped in his tracks by accepting the lump sum perhaps just to pay bills and other expenses. You had to be careful to avoid this but the law has been changed. A total disability claim is no longer waived by accepting a lump sum.