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Some SLU Stipulations Require Additional Paperwork

Over the last year, practitioners have noted the Board’s resistance to stipulations concerning schedule loss of use where non-schedule body parts were also established on a claim, absent a provision in the stipulation that there were no residual deficits or further causally related disability connected with the non-schedule injury or condition. This marked a change in prior Board practice which generally allowed stipulations on schedule loss of use even where there were non-schedule body sites established on the claim.

In Subject Number 046-1211, the Board has outlined its expectations with respect to stipulations on schedule loss of use where a non-schedule site is established on the claim. The Subject Number describes a new form, the “SLU Stipulation Attachment,” which is to be used by parties stipulating to schedule loss of use where the claimant’s non-schedule injury may have residual permanent impairment or where the medical evidence says nothing about whether the claimant has a permanent disability of the non-schedule injury.

If the medical reports in the file say that the claimant does not have a permanent disability of the non-schedule injury, then the parties do not need to submit the SLU Stipulation Attachment with their stipulation.

In those cases where the medical evidence suggests a permanent disability of a non-schedule body part we expect the Board will carefully review the claimant’s answers to Question 5 on the SLU Stipulation Attachment, which asks the claimant to confirm that the claimant’s doctor doesn’t believe that the non-schedule injury affects the claimant’s ability to work, that there has been no surgery or post-surgical care involving the non-schedule body part(s) for the last 12 months, and that the claimant has not treated for the non-schedule body part(s) for the last six months. We suspect that the claimant’s answers to these questions will affect the Board’s decision to approve or deny the proposed stipulation.

The stipulation attachment also requires the claimant’s attorney to attest that he or she fully explained the impact of the proposed stipulation on the claimant’s non-schedule injuries, including the effect of the carrier’s credit on future indemnity related to the non-schedule injuries and any difficulties in reopening the claim to consider a worsening of non-schedule body parts.
Significantly, the SLU Stipulation Attachment states that if the Board approves the stipulation on schedule loss of use, that the Board will also enter a finding of “no further causally related disability at this time” with respect to the non-schedule sites or conditions. A finding of “no further causally related disability” is a powerful one for the carrier because it allows the carrier to force the claimant to provide proof of a change in condition before becoming liable for medical care or indemnity benefits.

We expect that the Board will deny stipulations for schedule loss of use in those cases where it feels that the claimant was not fully informed of the ramifications of agreeing to a SLU when that claimant also has non-schedule injuries.

Please do not hesitate to contact any of our attorneys with questions about the Board’s new SLU stipulation procedure.

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