Juneteenth is a federal holiday in the United States commemorating the Emancipation Proclamation and has been celebrated in various parts of the country since 1865. The day has been observed as a celebration of the liberation of those who were enslaved in America and was recognized as a federal holiday on June 17, 2021, when the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act was signed into law. This holiday serves as a reminder of both the trying times in this nation’s history and the many strides we have made in ensuring that the promises of our founding documents are extended to all Americans. We at Mullen and Filippi stand with those who strive to make our country better for all Americans, whatever that means to each of us who participates in America’s grand and ongoing experiment in democracy and pluralism.
DWC ANNOUNCES MILEAGE RATE INCREASE FOR MEDICAL AND MEDICAL-LEGAL TRAVEL
On June 13, 2022, the Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) announced an increase in the mileage rate by 4 cents, to 62.5 cents per mile for medical and medical-legal mileage reimbursement effective July 1, 2022.
The DIR notes that the increased rate must be paid for all travel on or after July 1, 2022, regardless of the date of injury.
The rate payable for mileage for medical and medical-legal travel is established by Labor Code Section 4600, Government Code Section 19820, and the California Department of Human Resources and is tied to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
The IRS announced the mileage rate increase on June 9, 2022.
DWC URGES EAMS USERS TO SWITCH TO MICROSOFT EDGE
On May 27, 2022, the Division of Workers’ Compensation (DWC) advised Electronic Adjudication Management System (EAMS) users that Microsoft ended support for the Internet Explorer browser on June 15, 2022, for security and stability reasons. However, EAMS users can access the system using the Microsoft Edge browser.
The DWC posted Internet Explorer mode settings which can be used to access EAMS using the Microsoft Edge browser. The information guide can be found via the link below.
BOARD PANEL DECISION DISCUSSES ELECTION IN CT CASES
In Lorenzo Arevalo, Applicant, v. Limoneira Company, Inc., Main Limoneira Co., Zurich American Insurance Company, administered by Gallagher Bassett Services, Inc., Defendants, the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board (WCAB) discussed elections by the injured worker in cumulative trauma (CT) cases.
The Applicant, Mr. Arevalo sustained a CT type injury to his knee during period January 1, 2004 through February 28, 2020. Zurich American Insurance Company/Gallagher Bassett (Zurich) and co-defendant California Insurance Company/Applied Risk Services (Applied Risk) had coverage for portions of the CT period pursuant to Labor Code (LC) Section 5500.5.
Mr. Arevalo elected against Zurich, the minority coverage provider during the CT period. Zurich argued that the election was inappropriate because Applied Risk provided most of the coverage during the CT period pursuant to LC Section 5500.5. The Workers’ Compensation Judge (WCJ) approved Applicant’s election against Zurich.
Zurich filed a Petition for Reconsideration. The WCAB denied removal and affirmed the WCJ’s order approving the election. The WCAB found that although Applied Risk provided coverage for the majority of the CT period, Mr. Arevalo was not precluded from electing against Zurich.
The WCAB distinguished Barillas v. Cellar Masters, Inc., 2014 Cal. Wrk. Comp. P.D. LEXIS 452 (noteworthy panel decision), noting that although the length of coverage provided during a carriers’ proportional share of liability is one factor to consider when determining the appropriateness of an election absent “other compelling reasons”, additional factors are to be considered.
In this case, the WCAB found that there were compelling reasons to allow the election against Zurich despite its shorter coverage period. Specifically, the WCAB noted that Zurich provided coverage on two denied claims (a specific injury and the CT) and had already obtained an evaluation from a panel QME, who found a cumulative trauma type injury. Because liability for the cumulative trauma injury was clear based on the panel QME report, the WCAB found that there was no reason for Applied Risk to obtain additional medical-legal reports and delay Applicant’s timely receipt of benefits.
PRACTICE TIP: Because this decision has not been designated as a “significant panel decision” by the WCAB, practitioners should use caution when citing to the decision. However, it stands to reason that the WCAB will consider all “compelling reasons” when determining the appropriateness of an election against a defendant in CT cases.
This Bulletin was written by Steve Rosendin, Associate Partner in our San Francisco office. A copy of this Bulletin and the most current twelve months is available on our website at www.mulfil.com/bulletins.