SB 335 was passed by the Senate Committee and will now go to the Appropriations Committee. This bill has a lot of potential changes, but one of the biggest is reducing the 90-day time frame to investigate and accept or deny cases down to 45 days. In addition, it reduces the time for many firefighters and first responders down to 30 days. Other changes include increasing the amount of money to be paid for medical care during the investigation period from $10,000 to $17,000. In addition, a new Labor Code 5814.3 would allow a 10% penalty on the amount of a claim unreasonably refused or delayed. This would remove the 25% penalty with a cap of $10,000 currently available under Labor Code 5814.
While proponents for the bill feel that this will deter carriers from waiting until the last minute to deny claims, the opposition points out that with the time frames in place to obtain QME evaluations, an investigation would never be able to be completed within the shortened 45 day window.
SB 335, by state Sen. Dan Cortese, D-San Jose, would shorten the time an employer has to deny liability, from 90 days to 45.