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Two workers' compensation bills currently working their way through the California Legislature contain potentially conflicting language regarding the time period during which a claim administrator may investigate a claimed injury.
AB 1751, which is currently pending in the Senate Labor, Public Employment, and Retirement Committee, would postpone the expiration of the COVID presumptions originally created in 2020 to January 1, 2025. If this legislation is not passed, the COVID presumptions are scheduled to sunset at the end of 2022. The current version of the bill provides that "if liability for a claim of a COVID-19-related illness [brought by an active firefighter or other enumerated employee] is not rejected within 30 days after the date the claim form is filed pursuant to Section 5401, the illness shall be presumed compensable." (LC § 3212.87 (f))
The bill also addresses COVID claims brought by other employees who test positive during a COVID outbreak. LC § 3212.88 (f) provides that "if liability for a claim of a COVID-19-related illness is not rejected within 45 days after the date the claim form is filed pursuant to Section 5401, the illness shall be presumed compensable."
These two provisions potentially conflict with language contained in SB 1127 which is currently pending in the Insurance Committee. This bill would amend LC § 5402 (b)(2) to shorten the investigation period for firefighters and safety officers. The relevant language states "for injuries or illnesses defined in Sections 3212 to 3212.85, inclusive, and Sections 3212.87 to 3213.2, inclusive, if the liability is not rejected within 75 days after the date the claim form is filed pursuant to Section 5401, the injury shall be presumed compensable under this division."
The two pieces of legislation create different timeframes within which a claim must be accepted.
AB 1751 is scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Appropriations Committee on August 8. SB 1127 is scheduled for hearing in the Assembly Appropriations Committee on August 3.
The legislature is scheduled to adjourn on August 31.