Last month, the California Senate passed SB 697. This bill, if signed into law, would require the Administrative Director of the Division of Workers’ Compensation to perform a study on whether it would be viable to link payment for workers’ compensation medical treatment to “value of care” instead of the current model where providers are…

Wiesner English, P.C., is proud to contribute to Kids’ Chance. Kids’ Chance is a nation-wide non-profit that provides scholarships and support to the children of workers who have been injured on the job. During their 2020 to 2021 cycle, they provided 668 scholarships totaling over $2.7 million. Since 1988, they have provided over $30 million…

What is the Supplemental Job Displacement Benefit (SJDB) retraining Voucher A retraining voucher (formally a Supplemental Job Displacement Benefit or SJDB Voucher) is designed to help injured workers retrain for different careers or positions. It is not required in every case. It’s designed to cover the costs of retraining (within limits) if an injury causes…

subpoena duces tecum legal discovery produce records

What is a subpoena?

A subpoena is a court order. Sometimes it is an order to be somewhere to testify. If we have a trial and there is a non-party witness (someone besides the injured worker or dependent or, on the other side, the employer/insurance carrier) we need to secure, we need to subpoena them so they are ordered by a court to appear for trial.

For a witness who is a party to a case, a subpoena is not necessary. California Code of Civil Procedure section 1987(b) provides that for a party of record, a subpoena is not needed if at least 10 days before appearing, the party’s attorney is served with notice requesting the witness’s presence in court with the time and place specified.

What is a subpoena used for in a workers' compensation case?

When an attorney talks about a subpoena, it is often in the context of a subpoena for records. A subpoena for records or subpoena duces tecum is a court order to provide records by a given date. We commonly use them to get copies of medical reports, claims files, personnel files, and police reports.

An injured worker usually never sees a subpoena. On rare occasion, it happens. If it happens, normally it is because they received a copy of a subpoena directed toward someone else. But it can be a source of concern; it looks like you’re being ordered to drive half way across the state for no clear reason under threat of penalties and contempt charges. And sometimes an injured worker owns a side business and the business is served a subpoena for records.

What happens if I don’t comply with a subpoena?

Failure to comply with either a subpoena to appear and testify or a subpoena for records can lead to sanctions and contempt proceedings. California Code of Civil Procedure section 128 empowers “every court” to compel obedience to it’s orders. Section 1218 specifies fines and imprisonment may be punishments for contempt. Penal Code section 166 makes it a misdemeanor to violate a court order. And Labor Code section 134 makes it clear that the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board is likewise granted “all necessary process in proceedings for contempt” to the same extent as a Superior Court.

How to tell who is being subpoenaed?

The first page of the subpoena should have the case caption (the block identifying the parties to the case). If you are the injured worker, your name will be on the front page. A few lines down though you should see “The People of the State of California Sends Greetings to . . . ” the actual subject of the subpoena.

What to do if you receive a subpoena directed toward yourself or your business?

If you’re being ordered by a court to do something, there’s a good chance you’ll end up doing it. But, as with all individual, case specific legal questions: Consult with an attorney.

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In my first post, we covered issues that arise earlier in a case (AWW, TD, PTPs, WPI, RFAs, UR and IMR). Part II covered some of the common issues (and shorthand) that would come up later in a case (P&S, stips, C&R, MSA, F&A). Though uncommon, there are particular issues that might exist in a…

My earlier post covered issues that arise earlier in a case (AWW, TD, PTPs, WPI, RFAs, UR and IMR). Later in a case, you might encounter one or some of the following situations (with their associated acronyms): P&S—Permanent and Stationary A Permanent and Stationary (P&S) determination can be made by a Primary Treating Physician (PTP),…

There are a few things injured workers should expect. Medical treatment and pay for time lost due to the injury among them. Often not expected, however, is the paperwork and regulations buried in a sea of acronyms. Here, we will discuss some of those acronyms along with some relevant notes. TD—Temporary Disability Temporary Disability (TD)…

After a workplace injury, the first thing that might happen is paperwork or an incident report. It might have been a trip to the emergency room. Often, though, an employee is directed to a front-line occupational medical clinic. Some clinics are favored by employers or insurance companies due to lower cost of care. While that's fine for the company paying the bills, the person with an injury can face long wait times, difficulty getting medical reports, and might never meet the treating doctor. It's not uncommon for someone think they're seeing a medical doctor only to finally get the reports and discover they've been seeing a nurse or physician's assistant and never met the medical doctor responsible for their care.

Some providers at an occupational medical clinic might not be as thorough. Treatment requests have to document the medical need for that treatment. If a doctor, nurse, or assistant is not thorough when documenting the medical necessity for that treatment, the request is more likely to be denied. The patient's medical recovery can be delayed or diminished as a result.

It's common for self-insured employers or work comp insurance companies to maintain a Medical Provider Network or MPN. This works a lot like an HMO where an in-network Primary Treating Physician is in charge of referrals to other in-network providers. Once the claim is filed--or when an MPN is being asserted--the claims adjuster should send MPN information including how to get a list of local doctors in network (see 8 CCR sec. 9767.12(a)).

Getting quality care after an injury is important. Helping find that quality care earlier on is one of the ways we help our clients reach a better result following a work injury. If you or someone you know was injured on the job, please call us or click here to request a free consultation.

Workers’ Compensation is defined as a “limited benefits system.” Meaning, unlike a Personal Injury case, where damages can be decided by a judge or jury, “Compensation” under California’s Workers’ Compensation system is limited to the benefits defined by the Labor Code. Labor Code § 3209 makes this point very clearly: ““Damages” means the recovery allowed in an action at law as contrasted with compensation.”

“Compensation” under the Workers’ Compensation act, while more narrowly defined than damages, does have some notable benefits. First, Workers’ Compensation in California is a “no-fault” system meaning an Employee can file a claim without proving employer negligence or any negligence. A claim also survives even if there was negligence on the Employee’s behalf.

Second, unlike a personal injury case which can go for years before there is any award, Workers’ Compensation benefits can start as soon as a claim is filed. Even while a claims examiner is deciding whether to accept or deny liability for a claim, up to $10,000 in medical treatment should be provided (with limitations). If a claim is accepted, Temporary Disability payments are designed to offset lost wages (again, and with all things in Work Comp, with limitations).

A Workers’ Compensation claim can even provide retraining before the case is finalized if the right conditions are met.

All to say while there are significant limitations involved in a Workers’ Compensation claim, qualified and knowledgeable representation can help ensure potential benefits are understood and maximized to the extent available.