In November, the California Supreme Court rejected the claim that California law allows medical reports from only Medical Provider Network (MPN) doctors into evidence in workers’ compensation benefit disputes. The ruling (Elayne Valdez v. Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board and Warehouse Demo Services) is widely seen as a big victory for millions of working Californians and especially for those who are struggling to obtain compensation for workplace injuries.
Since July 2011, the California Workers Compensation Appeals Board (WCAB) has claimed that because medical reports from non-MPN doctors are “unauthorized,” such reports are therefore inadmissible in workers’ compensation benefit disputes. The WCAB argued that some non-MPN doctors had “cozy” relationships with workers’ compensation lawyers; some doctors also apparently ordered dozens of diagnostic tests and piled up huge bills along the way. The WCAB further argued that by sending workers to doctors outside the Medical Provider Network, a few attorneys were trying to grab “medical control” of workers’ compensation cases.
Yet in the end, the WCAB position raised serious concerns; what if a non-MPN physician discovered a severe disease or condition undetected by MPN doctors? The California Supreme Court decided that victims cannot be barred from introducing such salient information into workers’ compensation benefit disputes. The bottom line is fairness; in a workers’ comp dispute, a worker should be allowed to present the evidence he or she chooses to present.
If you have suffered a job-related injury that prevents you from continuing to work, seek the advice of an experienced workers’ compensation attorney right away. You may recover medical expenses, and you may be eligible for temporary or permanent disability payments, but you’re going to need the legal expertise that only a good workers’ compensation lawyer can provide. If you’re the victim of a work-related injury, please speak with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney as quickly as possible.