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A Win for California Workers in the Form of Senate Bill 186

Finally, some good news from Sacramento. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger recently signed Senate Bill 186, which enables workers injured on the job to continue to pre-designate a physician in the event of a future work injury. Had the governor vetoed the bill, this right would have been eliminated as of December 31, 2009.

"This is a huge victory for California workers," says Mark Edelstein, a partner in the law firm of Gordon, Edelstein, Krepack, Grant, Felton & Goldstein, LLP. "With that December 31st ending date eliminated, injured workers can continue to be cared for by a doctor who knows their medical history and with whom they have built a relationship—not a physician assigned to them by their employer. In most cases, this enables the physician to provide effective treatment and make the appropriate referrals, enabling the injured worker to return to his or her job more quickly."

As set forth in the 2004 Workers' Compensation "Reform" (Senate Bill 899), if an employer has a Medical Provider Network (MPN) to treat injured employees, a worker must usually be treated by a doctor in that network unless he or she pre-designates.

"It is imperative that workers advise their employers in writing before an injury that if they're hurt on the job they want to be treated by their personal physician," says Edelstein. (Click here for a copy of the Pre-Designation form; be sure to read the stipulations outlined therein.)

"The passage of SB 186 is an example of how Workers' Compensation Laws have been changing on an almost daily basis since 2004. Legal representation is vital for injured workers in California even with this latest positive turn of events.

"Schwarzenegger's signing of the bill surprised many advocates of workers' rights, particularly because he vetoed a similar bill in 2008. We will gladly 'take this win' for California's workers, and our firm will continue to stay abreast of the rapidly changing trends in Workers' Compensation Laws so that we can provide our clients with the best representation possible."

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