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Ex Parte Bill Goes into Effect

Substitute House Bill 1402 otherwise known as the Ex Parte bill went into effect on July 26, 2009. It changes long standing public policy and case law that encouraged the free flow of medical information to all of the parties in a workers compensation case.  The new law prohibits ex parte contact with the opposing sides' health care providers after a notice of appeal (or after witness confirmation for the Department) to the Board has been filed. Note that ex parte contact can still be had with the medical provider on issues not covered on the appeal to the Board.

While this law appears fair on the surface, in reality it impacts employer defense practice more than it does the claimant's bar or the Department. This is because employers and their attorneys typically contact the attending physicians more frequently as part of the day-to-day claim administration or litigation process.  It is rare that a claimant's attorney makes ex parte inquires with an IME physician.

The practical effect of this bill will be a delayed claims administration process which benefits neither injured workers nor employers.  It will increase litigation costs through increased informal and formal discovery that wasn't previously necessary. It will make many medical providers even more wary about talking to the parties about a patient for fear that they might be violating this law. 

If you have any particular questions about the new law, we have a PowerPoint document, that summarizes the bill, that is available upon request.  Contact Terry Peterson at terry.peterson@compriskmgt.com for a copy of the presentation.

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