(a) For purposes of this article, a medical-legal expense means any costs and expenses incurred by or on behalf of any party, the administrative director, or the board, which expenses may include X-rays, laboratory fees, other diagnostic tests, medical reports, medical records, medical testimony, and, as needed, interpreter's fees by a certified interpreter pursuant to Article 8 (commencing with Section 11435.05) of Chapter 4.5 of Part 1 of Division 3 of Title 2 of, or Section 68566 of, the Government Code, for the purpose of proving or disproving a contested claim.
(b) A contested claim exists when the employer knows or reasonably should know that the employee is claiming entitlement to any benefit arising out of a claimed industrial injury and one of the following conditions exists:
(1) The employer rejects liability for a claimed benefit.
(2) The employer fails to accept liability for benefits after the expiration of a reasonable period of time within which to decide if it will contest the claim.
(3) The employer fails to respond to a demand for payment of benefits after the expiration of any time period fixed by statute for the payment of indemnity.
(c) Costs of medical evaluations, diagnostic tests, and interpreters incidental to the production of a medical report do not constitute medical-legal expenses unless the medical report is capable of proving or disproving a disputed medical fact, the determination of which is essential to an adjudication of the employee's claim for benefits. In determining whether a report meets the requirements of this subdivision, a judge shall give full consideration to the substance as well as the form of the report, as required by applicable statutes and regulations.
(d) If the injured employee cannot effectively communicate with an examining physician because he or she cannot proficiently speak or understand the English language, the injured employee is entitled to the services of a qualified interpreter during the medical examination. Upon request of the injured employee, the employer or insurance carrier shall pay the costs of the interpreter services, as set forth in the fee schedule adopted by the administrative director pursuant to Section 5811. An employer shall not be required to pay for the services of an interpreter who is provisionally certified unless either the employer consents in advance to the selection of the individual who provides the interpreting service or the injured worker requires interpreting service in a language other than the languages designated pursuant to Section 11435.40 of the Government Code.
(Amended by Stats. 2012, Ch. 363, Sec. 52.)