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Facts about workers' compensation petitions for reconsideration

California workers who are injured on the job or suffer an illness due to their work rely on workers' compensation benefits to cover their lost wages and medical expenses. When workers' compensation claims are rejected, however, it can be a worrisome time. Fortunately, the case can be reconsidered by the Workers' Compensation Appeals Board. Before the case goes before the Appeals Board, the claimant should understand petitions for reconsideration.

The law dictates that the chairman of the WCAB must assign a case for reconsideration to a three-member panel. The panel can do several things with a petition for reconsideration. It can deny the petition; it can grant reconsideration and decide on the claim; it can grant reconsideration for further proceedings; or it can dismiss the petition.

With a denial, the panel will adhere to the decision made by the workers' compensation judge or it can issue its own decision. When granting reconsideration and giving its own decision, the panel can rescind the decision being protested and send the case back to the judge for more proceedings.

When there is a reconsideration for more proceedings, the following may occur: the case is reheard so more evidence can be provided; another medical exam can be given; there can be a permanent disability rating obtained; it can be up for further study; the case can be reassigned to the board in its entirety for a decision; or other actions can be taken so the record can be completed. Finally, the petition can be dismissed because it is not a final order, it is untimely, or for miscellaneous reasons.

Workers' compensation benefits are not guaranteed, but the state tries to provide everyone who makes a workers' compensation claim a fair chance to have their claim approved. A law firm that helps clients with every aspect of workers' compensation cases is crucial to the process and should be called from the start.

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