It is hard to believe that the holiday season is here and, with that, 2019 will soon be upon us. With the New Year, several changes and updates to the Workers’ Compensation Rules of Procedure will take place. One rule that will have significant changes and impact on the system is Rule 11, which pertains to the DIME process.
The DIME program has seen little change since its inception in 1991, yet it is an essential piece of the Colorado Workers’ Compensation system. There have been attempts throughout the years to change the procedures from both respondent’s and claimant’s bars but to no avail. After three years of collaboration and tedious consideration, the Division of Workers’ Compensation has finally adopted a new rule that will address key challenges of each stakeholder. This is due in part to weekly staff meetings with representatives from both sides of the bar commenting on the changes and individual meetings with each side of the bar. There were over 50 revisions to Rule 11 and a Public Rule Hearing held for additional comment.
Effective January 1, 2019, these revisions and changes to Rule 11 will take place. Several key changes to the Rule:
- There will now be a three-tiered payment system based on the date of injury to the filing of the DIME application and the number of body regions indicated on the DIME application;
- The DIME physician must receive the fee prior to the requesting party scheduling the DIME appointment;
- The Notice and Proposal and DIME Application are now combined as one document;
- The time-frame to schedule a DIME appointment is extended to no earlier than 45 days or later than 75 days after the requesting party receives the notice of the DIME Physician Confirmation; and
- Parties will now be responsible for agreeing on a singular medical records packet to send to the DIME physician.
The Division Rule will go into place January 1st, but the Division has indicated there will be some leniency the first month to sort out compliance issues. By February the Division will be enforcing the new process. Any Notice and Proposal with a certificate of mailing dated on or after January 1, 2019 is subject to the new Rule 11 provisions.
One provision of the Rule that will be advantageous for respondents is the requirement that once a Notice and Proposal is filed, claimant must simultaneously file a DIME application. With the current Rule 11 provision, claimant could file a Notice and Proposal to perfect their jurisdictional requirement to object to the Final Admission of Liability but could wait on filing for a DIME. Sometimes it would be months, or even close to a year, before a DIME application was filed and physician selected. Hopefully, the new Rule 11 revisions will bring a speedier DIME process and claim resolution/closure.
One negative effect of the new Rule is that parties are now to agree on one set of medical records to be sent to the DIME physician. This could create more litigation as claimants may not want to provide certain records, but respondents may feel they should be included in the medical packet. A standoff could require pre-hearings to adjudicate the matter. This is likely why the Division extended the time requirement to 45 – 75 days so that parties have time to reach an agreement on the medical records submitted and additional time to set the DIME appointment.
With these changes to Rule 11, there will be a lot of questions that need to be addressed. The attorneys at Lee & Brown, LLC are here to answer any questions you may have regarding the new changes to Rule 11 and will be conducting training seminars “on our DIME” early next year to go over all these changes. Below are some helpful links from the Division of Workers’ Compensation which provides general DIME information and new timelines to consider.