Apportionment of Independent Medical Examiner approved for prior overlapping disability

This is a very significant case for workers’ compensation principles.

The applicant suffered a low back injury in November 2016.  At the first trial the Workers’ Compensation Judge (WCJ) ruled the Qualified Medical Examiner’s (QME) opinions were not substantial evidence and ordered an Independent Medical Examiner (IME).

The IME indicated the applicant had a 16 percent whole person impairment (WPI) and apportioned 25 percent of the applicant’s disability to a 2002 prior injury indicating it was “overlapping”.

At trial the WCJ indicated the IME’s opinion was substantial medical evidence and subtracted the prior WPI from the current WPI. The applicant petitioned for reconsideration contending the IME opinion was not substantial medical evidence.

The Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board (WCAB) indicated the IME reviewed extensive medical records and did not engage in surmise or speculation. The IME had a good idea what the applicant’s impairment rating was once he was stabilized from the 2002 injury.

The WCJ indicated that the correct way to subtract the apportionment of the prior injury was to take the prior standard and rate it out and then take the current standard and rate it out and subtract the prior rating. The WCAB agreed.


Harvey Brown
3501 Jamboree Rd. Suite 602
Newport Beach, CA 92660

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