The recently passed workers compensation legislation, SB 863, is intended to have cost saving implications for California employers as well as increased benefits to injured workers, especially permanent disability benefits. SB 863 includes lien reform which is intended to help clear the system of lingering and inadmissible liens and free up the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board (WCAB) hearing calendar. One specific element of the lien reform is that as of January 1st, 2013, SB 863 now requires lien claimants pay a $100 activation fee for liens filed before that date.
The new Labor Code for these fees is section 4903.06 which states:
4903.06. (a) Any lien filed pursuant to subdivision (b) of Section 4903 prior to January 1, 2013, and any cost that was filed as a lien prior to January 1, 2013, shall be subject to a lien activation fee unless the lien claimant provides proof of having paid a filing fee as previously required by former Section 4903.05 as added by Chapter 639 of the Statutes of 2003.
(1) The lien claimant shall pay a lien activation fee of one hundred dollars ($100) to the Division of Workers’ Compensation on or before January 1, 2014. The fee shall be collected through an electronic payment system that accepts major credit cards and any additional forms of electronic payment selected by the administrative director. If the administrative director contracts with a service provider for the processing of electronic payments, any processing fee shall be absorbed by the division and not added to the fee charged to the lien filer.
(2) The lien claimant shall include proof of payment of the filing fee or lien activation fee with the declaration of readiness to proceed.
(3) The lien activation fee shall be collected by the administrative director. All fees shall be deposited in the Workers’ Compensation Administration Revolving Fund and applied for the purposes of that fund. The administrative director shall adopt reasonable rules and regulations governing the procedure for the collection of the lien activation fee and to implement this section, including emergency regulations, as necessary.
(4) All lien claimants that did not file the declaration of readiness to proceed and that remain a lien claimant of record at the time of a lien conference shall submit proof of payment of the activation fee at the lien conference. If the fee has not been paid or no proof of payment is available, the lien shall be dismissed with prejudice.
(5) Any lien filed pursuant to subdivision (b) of Section 4903 prior to January 1, 2013, and any cost that was filed as a lien prior to January 1, 2013, for which the filing fee or lien activation fee has not been paid by January 1, 2014, is dismissed by operation of law.
(b) This section shall not apply to any lien filed by a health care service plan licensed pursuant to Section 1349 of the Health and Safety Code, a group disability insurer under a policy issued in this state pursuant to the provisions of Section 10270.5 of the Insurance Code, a self-insured employee welfare benefit plan, as defined in Section 10121 of the Insurance Code, that is issued in this state, a Taft-Hartley health and welfare fund, or a publicly funded program providing medical benefits on a nonindustrial basis.
Thus the lien claimant must pay the $100 activation fee before January 1, 2014. If there is no activation fee paid then a defendant can move for dismissal. You can determine whether the fee has been paid by checking EAMS (Electronic Adjudication Management System).
By Kathleen L. Brundo, Co-Managing Partner