Like all states, California has unique ways of formalizing laws and interpreting their meaning. When it comes to medicolegal rules, attorneys may want to learn more about the general trends and attitudes when it comes to handling each claim so they can better assist their clients.
Delays and Questions
Right now, there is some degree of confusion surrounding the specifics of medicolegal in the Golden State. This uncertainty is especially inconvenient because courts are currently swamped with expedited hearings. As new addendums such as Post-SB 863 are introduced to workers’ compensation law, it is likely to become even more complicated to successfully settle cases.
Currently, Medicolegal is manifesting as a number of questions as to the details of each clause. For example, does the QME panel’s specialty qualify as valid? Are clients allowed to withdraw from their AME agreements? Can a physician sign a report electronically? It is these types of small points that can cause large delays.
Until there are formal rulings on many of these matters, most legal decision-makers are relying on mandates to point the way. There is no formal mandate that states the QME panel needs to be of the same specialty as the primary physician, so the court will typically allow the opinion of the QME panel regardless of specialty.
This is true unless the specialty is so far removed from that of the injury. (For example, a dentist giving a qualified medical opinion on a leg injury.) Those who seek the QME panel’s help will still need to confirm the specialties of both the primary and the QME panel, as well as the request of specialty from the opposing party.
For those who want to withdraw from an AME, they should know that they will need mutual written consent in order to do so. While one party may have been allowed to withdraw in the past, a formal mandate concluded that both parties needed to agree to formally withdraw. Finally, examiners are generally allowed to use electronic signatures on their reports without disqualifying that report in the eyes of the court.
The manifestation of medicolegal rules are constantly ongoing, but California may need to play catch-up for a while to get their caseload down to a manageable number.