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Posted by California on December 18, 1999 at 10:15:36:

(8/4/99, Court of Appeal)

The 2nd District Court of Appeal has ruled that the WCAB has continuing jurisdiction to terminate liability for medical treatment more than five years after the date of injury. The Applicant sustained an industrial injury on 3/12/81 resulting in permanent disability. The parties stipulated that Applicant might need future medical care; however, treatment for Applicant's preexisting, non-industrial condition was specifically excluded from the employer's liability. More than 5 years later, an AME resolved a dispute regarding need for further treatment in favor of the defendant, who thereafter filed a petition to terminate its liability for medical care. The WCAB found that it had jurisdiction to entertain the petition to terminate because the future medical care award was provisional. The court reasoned: "An award which indicates only that there may be a need for future medical treatment contains the inference there may not be such a need. In such an instance, a petition to terminate a precautionary or provisional award of future medical care is but a request to enforce the award." The court therefore concluded that since an employee may seek to enforce an award past the 5-year limitation, so might a defendant petition to terminate an award more than 5 years after the date of injury.

[Note: One sentence of this opinion, referring to two prior injuries, was unpublished.]

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