Home > Medical Unit, QMEs > Timing Your Panel Request

Timing Your Panel Request

The California Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board has issued a new en banc opinion on the issue of timeliness of panel requests.  In Messele v. Pitco Foods, Inc., the defendant objected to the treating physician’s report and proposed the use of an Agreed Medical Evaluator to applicant, setting up the requirements for a request for a panel in accordance with Labor Code § 4062.2(b).

Applicant responded with his own AME proposals and then requested a panel.

Defendant then filed its own request for a panel.  The timeline was as follows:

Date of Injury———————————1/29/10

Defendant’s Objection ****************4/20/10

Applicant’s AMEs—————————-4/26/10

Applicant’s Panel Request *************5/01/10

Defendant’s Panel Request————-5/04/10

The Medical Unit, no longer resolving disputes, issued a panel in response to each request, with different specialties.  The Workers’ Compensation Judge ruled that the 5-day “mailbox” rule of the Code of Civil Procedure (§ 1013(a)) applies, and that applicant’s panel request was untimely, so defendant’s panel stands.

For the folks keeping score at home, the first day the panel request could have been filed would have been May 6 (April 20 + 10 days is April 30; plus 5 days for mailing is May 5, so the first day a panel could be filed is May 6.  In the WCJ’s report and recommendation on applicant’s petition for removal, the WCJ acknowledges this error and recommends that both panels be found premature.

On a petition for reconsideration, which the WCAB found should have been a petition for removal, applicant’s petition was granted and the WCJ’s order was rescinded.  The WCAB found that CCP § 1013(a) and 8 CCR § 10507 require the application of the “mailbox” rule to the process of panel requests.

Applicant’s argument that the mailbox rule doesn’t apply and defendant’s argument that the controlling date is when the Medical Unit received the request, not when it was made, were both rejected.  The rule applies and the controlling date is the date the request for a panel is made.

What does that mean for us in the industry?  Once an objection to a primary treating physician’s report has been made by either side, fill out a panel request form dated for the sixteenth day after the date of the objection.

So if the objection was made on November 1, 2011, the counting begins on November 2, 2011, and the panel request form should be dated for November 17.  As soon as November 17 comes around, the panel request should be in the mail, in order to be the first one in and thereby control the specialty.

As yet another aside, the rules clearly state that the specialty of the panel should be the same as that of the treating physician unless documentation is provided for a good reason to the contrary.  But, in terms of practice, this rule of often enough ignored by the Medical Units and the WCJs alike, and it is much better to be the first to request a panel.

Categories: Medical Unit, QMEs
  1. Steve Cattolica
    September 28, 2011 at 11:19 am

    Greg,

    I believe the Medical Unit rejects any requests delivered by anything but USPS. An overnight package may not be a good strategy. Otherwise, why not send a fax on the 16th day?

    Steve Cattolica

    • September 28, 2011 at 11:25 am

      Steve, I think you might be right about USPS, but USPS offers overnight delivery. The point is it to ensure that your panel request is the first one in. That, and when the panel request is in compliance with the rules, gives you the best chance of determining the specialty of the panel.

  1. October 27, 2011 at 8:07 am
  2. November 3, 2011 at 8:09 am
  3. November 9, 2011 at 8:06 am

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