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Calif. court clarifies permanent disability rule

Calif. court clarifies permanent disability rule

A California appellate court on Tuesday clarified the rules governing how an injured worked is deemed permanently disabled.

At issue is whether the Workers Compensation Appeals Board applied the correct standard when calculating whether a Department of Corrections worker was permanently disabled, according to the ruling in Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation v. Workers Compensation Appeals Board and Dean Fitzpatrick, filed in the Court of Appeals of California, Third District in Sacramento.

A workers compensation administrative law judge, relying on reports from two doctors, had previously found correctional officer Dean Fitzpatrick 100% permanently totally disabled as a result of injury to his heart and psyche sustained during the course of his employment, per court documents. On appeal, the Workers Compensation Appeals Board affirmed the ruling, basing the judgment on Labor Code Section 4662, which established four conditions for permanent total disability — which it found to be in line with the doctors’ testimony — and not on the calculated percentage of disability.

The Department of Corrections, and amicus curiae the California Chamber of Commerce, argued the board “exceeded its jurisdiction by relying on section 4662, subdivision (b), to find permanent total disability because it should have proceeded pursuant to section 4660, which resulted in an unrebutted scheduled permanent disability rating of 99 percent,” according to court documents.

The Appellate Court annulled the board's opinion, remanding the issue to the board for further proceedings consistent with its opinion that Section 4662 of the law does not provide for permanent total disability separate from Section 4660, which governs how the finding and award of permanent total disability shall be made "in accordance with the fact" as provided in 4662.








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