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Special Report: WCAB Issues En Banc Decision Regarding Application of Kite

In 2013, the WCAB held in Athens Administrators v. WCAB (Kite) that an injured worker's disabilities are not required to be combined using the Combined Values Chart (CVC). The WCAB explained that although the AMA guides favor the combined values method, "physicians may, under certain circumstances, employ a different method of determining impairment if they remain within the four corners of the AMA Guides."

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Credit for Overpayment of Permanent Disability

It is not uncommon for a defendant to overpay permanent disability (PD) benefits. An overpayment might occur for several reasons. The defendant might not receive the physician's report declaring the applicant permanent and stationary until long after the evaluation. Or a defendant simply might make a mistake and pay more PD than required. Labor Code § 4909 states, "Any payment, allowance, or benefit received by the injured employee ... [that] was not then due and payable ... shall not, in the absence of any agreement, be an admission of liability for compensation on the part of the employer, but any such payment, allowance, or benefit may be taken into account by the appeals board in fixing the amount of the compensation to be paid." LC 4909 is widely understood as empowering the Workers' Compensation Appeals Board (WCAB) with discretion to grant or deny credit for overpayments.

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Accumulation of Permanent Disability Awards to Body Regions Under LC 4664(c)

When defendants seek to apportion an applicant's permanent disability, most often they look to apply Labor Code § 4663, which directs that apportionment be based on causation. LC 4663 requires a physician to consider factors both before and subsequent to the industrial injury, and the courts have not limited what can be apportioned under § 4663. They have allowed defendants to apportion to asymptomatic previous conditions, risk factors and even genetic factors. The only limitation has been that to apportion under § 4663, the physician's opinion about apportionment must be substantial evidence. Labor Code § 4664 is the other statute that addresses apportionment in the California workers' compensation system, and it allows apportionment to a previous award of permanent disability benefits. LC 4664(b) states, "If the applicant has received a prior award of permanent disability, it shall be conclusively presumed that the prior permanent disability exists at the time of any subsequent...

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