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Commission on Health and Safety and Workers' Compensation (CHSWC)

Medical legal study

Background

Reform legislation changes to medical-legal evaluations were intended to reduce both the cost and the frequency of litigation, which drive up the price of workers' compensation insurance to employers and lead to long delays in case resolution and the delivery of benefits to injured workers.

In 1995, the Commission initiated a project to determine the impact of the workers' compensation reform legislation on the workers' compensation medical-legal evaluations. CHSWC contracted with the Survey Research Center at UC Berkeley to carry out this study.

Description

The study analyses are based upon the permanent disability claim survey, a set of data created each year by the Workers' Compensation Insurance Rating Bureau (WCIRB) at the request of the Legislature to evaluate the 1989 reforms. The WCIRB data summarizes accident claim activity, including such measures as degree of impairment, the type and cost of specialty exams, whether the case was settled and, if so, the method of settlement employed.

Findings

The initial reports determined that

  • The cost of medical-legal exams has declined dramatically since its peak in the 1991 accident-year.
  • The number of partial permanent disability claims decreased significantly.

  • The average cost of medical-legal exams has declined.
  • Status

    The Medical-legal study was initiated in 1995 and is ongoing.

    Further information

    Evaluating the reforms of the medical legal process