Sarah Cohen

Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Upholds Hanford Presumption Law

On August 19, 2020, the Ninth Circuit issued an opinion finding Washington was not in violation of federal law when it implemented HB 1723, also known as the “Hanford Presumption”. HB 1723 was signed into law in March 2018 and created a presumption that certain illness or conditions diagnosed in workers within the 560 square mile Hanford site was a compensable occupational disease. HB 1723 was designed to create a presumption for workers that chemical and radiological exposures at Hanford are the proximate cause of many respiratory illnesses, multiple types of cancer, and certain neurological and cardiac diseases. The presumption applies to any worker, including contractors or subcontractors, who work on the Hanford site for as little as… Continue reading

Adjusting to the New Normal – Washington Claims Processing and COVID-19

As the impact of COVID-19 continues to reverberate through Washington, it has created numerous challenges for employers and claims managers who are working hard to process claims properly and as efficiently as possible. Within this ever-evolving situation in mind, this post discusses some of the common issues that have arisen to date and offers suggestions for how to navigate claims processing. Treatment Plans and Time Loss Certification With treating providers cancelling or postponing many non-emergency appointments, it has made it challenging for workers to submit proper time loss certification in a timely manner. To address this issue, Department’s Guidelines suggest workers schedule appointments via video or telephone to document ongoing eligibility for treatment and/or time loss benefits. For claims managers,… Continue reading

New Washington Law: First Responder Presumption

On June 7, 2018 the First Responder Presumption, House Bill SB 6214 became law and changed the way workers and employers approach mental health claims filed by firefighters and law enforcement officers throughout the state of Washington. Before the First Responder Presumption, all workers, including first responders, were typically prevented from filing a claim for Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as an occupational disease. The new law changes this rule and carves out an exception for first responders. Now, when a firefighter or law enforcement officer files a claim for PTSD, it is presumed to be an occupational disease unless the employer proves otherwise. In other words, the new law shifts the burden of proof to the employer, who is now… Continue reading