According to a report from Bloomberg Law, a California appeals court has issued an opinion that could, potentially, reduce workers’ comp delays for some claimants. On August 1, 2023, the California Second District Court of Appeal ruled in favor of an injured worker in the case of Earley v. Workers’ Comp. Appeals Bd. Here, our Fresno work injury lawyer provides an overview of the decision and explains the potential implications for workers’ compensation claims in California.
The case involves a number of different petitioners, including the lead named plaintiff Michele Earley. Each person is a claimant in a pending workers’ comp case in California. In all of the proceedings, the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board (WCAB) issued a grant-for-study.
Broadly defined, a grant-for-study in a workers’ comp claim in California refers to the process by which a workers’ compensation judge authorizes a specific medical study or evaluation to determine the extent and nature of a worker’s injury.
Here is the core legal issue in the case: The grant-for-study process can be extremely time-consuming. As noted by the California Second District Court of Appeal, it can take between five months and 21 months for a decision to be made in a workers’ comp claim after a grant-for-study is ordered. All of the named plaintiffs in this case, including Ms. Earley, have had their workers’ comp claim pending for more than a year after a grant-for-study order from the WCAB.
Upon review, the California Second District Court of Appeal has determined that the WCAB cannot “rubber stamp” a grant-for-study request. The appellate court found that the grant-for-study process, as it currently exists in California, all too often results in major and unjustifiable delays.
The court determined that the WCAB can still delay workers’ comp rulings using a grant-for-study order. However, a “rubber stamp” can no longer be used in these cases. Instead, the WCAB must specify reasons for reconsideration, rather than using generic language.
The decision from the California Second District Court of Appeal could have significant implications for many workers’ compensation claims. However, the precise meaning of the decision is still unclear. WCAB will no longer be in a position to delay as many workers’ comp claims using a grant-for-study order. However, the WCAB can still use the process to delay workers’ comp cases by specifying the reasoning for each individual case. Notably, that the WCAB is required to do so could potentially make the workers’ comp appeals process easier for claimants as they will have more specific information regarding why a claim was delayed.
An experienced Fresno workers’ compensation attorney, Joseph C. Yrulegui is committed to helping clients secure their full and proper benefits in a timely manner. Contact us now for your completely confidential case review with a top work injury lawyer. We provide workers’ comp representation in Fresno, Fresno County, and throughout the surrounding area.