Workers' Compensation Appeals Board upholds judge’s deferral

Electrician's industrial injuries caused 23% permanent disability, judge finds

Workers' Compensation Appeals Board upholds judge’s deferral

A workers’ compensation administrative law judge ruled that an electrician working for Fisk Electric, a Tutor Perini company, sustained injuries arising out of and in the course of employment to her right shoulder, right elbow, right wrist, left shoulder, left wrist, and psyche.

The judge determined that the injury of the applicant in the case of Belfrey vs. Tutor Perini Corporation; Zurich Insurance caused 23% permanent disability. The judge found that there was a need for future medical treatment to cure or to relieve the effects of these industrial injuries.

The judge awarded the applicant the value of her permanent disability and deferred the temporary disability issues and the claim under section 132a of the Labor Code.

Read more: Shipping clerk claims injuries, COVID while employed by The Beauty Box

The applicant asked for reconsideration of the judge’s findings and award. She argued that the judge exceeded her power when she deferred the temporary disability issues and the section 132a claim. She also raised questions about the body parts determined to be injured, her entitlement to retroactive temporary disability, the value of the award for permanent disability, and the value of a settlement.

The panel of the Workers' Compensation Appeals Board of California denied the applicant’s petition for reconsideration.

First, the panel decided that the applicant’s petition was timely filed. California’s Labor Code provided 20 days for filing a petition for reconsideration from a final decision, while WCAB Rule 10605 extended this period by ten calendar days if service was made to an address beyond California but within the U.S.

In this case, the applicant and her attorney were served within California, while the defendant was served outside of California. The panel decided to extend the time under WCAB Rule 10605 to ensure due process for all the parties.

Second, though the applicant alleged that she also injured her right hand, the panel held that she failed to cite evidence supporting this injury.

Third, the panel found that the applicant failed to show that the decision to defer certain issues would cause her significant prejudice or irreparable harm. She also failed to establish that reconsideration would not be an adequate remedy if the final decision tackling the unresolved issues would ultimately be against her, the panel said.

Read more: What determines if a pre-existing permanent disability is labor disabling?

Fourth, regarding the applicant’s questions about the value of her claim and settlement, the panel informed her that she could ask for help from the district officer’s information and assistance officer relating to these issues if she wished. The panel stressed that it could not order a settlement and could not offer legal advice to parties.

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