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From China With Love

A recent writ-denied case (Interwoven, Inc. v. Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board (2011) 13 WCAB Rptr. 13,252) explored, or rather declined to further explore, the extent to which a lien claimant must prove industrial causation in California’s Workers’ Compensation system.

The skinny:  A lien claimant has the burden of proving industrial causation by a reasonable probability standard, and not to a medical certainty standard.

Applicant traveled to China on business, and worked there for his employer, starting in April of 2000.  He fell ill in May of 2000, and his health quickly deteriorated until he expired in September 2001.

Prior to his death, he had been treated at Beijing Union Hospital, Stanford University Hospital, and UC Davis Hospital.  After the case in chief was settled by compromise and release in 2010, a lien-claimant, Healthcare Recoveries, Inc., came forward with a lien in excess of $2,000,000.

The facts present a murky issue at best – 29-year-old applicant is in China for a few months and some unknown event or substance causes him to fall ill and tragically die.

Though expert testimony entered into the record during the case in chief, the lien claimant met a standard of reasonable probability, but not medical certainty.

The standard, as articulated by the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board panel (and which the Court of Appeals declined to review) was “more convincing force and greater probability of truth.  Thus, the preponderance of the evidence establishes that the decedent’s illness and death arose out of and occurred in the course of employment.”

Categories: Liens
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