Section 8-43-203(2) currently requires respondents to either file an admission of liability consistent with a Division IME physician’s opinion or request a hearing challenging that opinion within thirty days of the date of mailing of the report from the Division IME physician. However, the deadline for respondents to take action has been made uncertain due to a number of recent appellate decisions interpreting the effect of various deficiencies in the Division IME report, and the impact of the letter from the Division IME Unit as to whether the Division of Workers’ Compensation believes that the report is complete or deficient. This has resulted in a great deal of uncertainty regarding respondents’ requirements to act upon receipt of the Division IME report.
The Colorado Legislature is proposing new legislation in an attempt to clarify the deadline to file either an Application for Hearing challenging the Division IME physician’s opinion or an admission of liability consistent with the opinion. Unfortunately, due to some poor drafting the new procedure does not appear to be any less confusing than the status quo.
Senate Bill 13-147 proposes to amend § 8-42-107.2 by adding subsection (4), which requires the Division IME Unit to review a Division IME report within 5 days after its receipt and either (1) issue a notice to all parties in the case that it has received the report or (2) notify the Division IME and all parties that there are deficiencies in the report. If the Division IME Unit issues notice that it has received the report (which presumably indicates that the Division IME Unit has no objection to the form or substance of the report), the respondent has twenty days from the date of mailing of the notice to either file its admission of liability pursuant to § 8-43-203 or request a hearing contesting one or more of the Division IME physician’s findings or determinations.
If the Division IME Unit issues a letter to the Division IME physician indicating that there are deficiencies in the report, the Division IME physician has 20 days to remedy the deficiencies and resubmit the report. If the Division IME physician resubmits the report within twenty days, the Division IME Unit again has five days to review the report and issue either (1) notice of receipt or (2) notice of deficiency. However, if the Division IME physician does not respond to the notice of deficiency within twenty days, the Division IME Unit shall issue the notice that it has received the Division IME’s report (which previously was found deficient by the Division IME Unit), at which point the respondents shall have twenty (20) days to file an admission of liability or request a hearing to contest the findings in the Division IME physician’s report.
Assuming the bill passes (which appears very likely), the effective date of amendment is even more confusing. Once the bill passes I will update the web log with an effective date.