Insisoulath: Interpreter Charges: Market Price vs. Price Schedule| Employees Compensation Information

By Julie Insisoulath

Wednesday, February 3, 2021 | 61 | 0 | min read

Employee compensation defendants regularly deal with disputes related to interpreting fees, particularly whether they are entitled to the market price or the fee schedule.

Julie Insisoulath

One would assume that the price of an interpreter is irrefutable because there is a fee schedule. However, the California Code of Regulations appears to have a loophole.

According to CCR §9795.3:

  1. For a hearing, arbitration or filing of the Board of Appeal: Interpreter fees will be billed at the higher of the following fees (i) and paid at a rate of half a day or a full day, as in the Colonel’s Schedule of Fees Court of Justice for interpreters in the county in which the service was provided, or (ii) at market price. The interpreter sets the market price for the interpreter’s services by submitting documentation to the claims administrator, including a list of recent similar services provided and the amounts paid for those services. Services over eight hours are paid at one eighth of the full daily rate for each hour over eight hours.
  2. For all other events listed under subsection (a), interpreting fees of $ 11.25 per quarter hour or part thereof will be billed and paid with a minimum of two hours or the market price, whichever is greater. The interpreter sets the market price for the interpreter’s services by submitting documentation to the claims administrator, including a list of recent similar services provided and the amounts paid for those services.

While regulations seem to allow a higher rate for interpreters, there are many other arguments that can be put forward to minimize, if not eliminate, some of the interpreter’s bills.

Submit request for second review

Most recently, a California appeals court ruled in Meadowbrook Insurance Co. v. WCAB that claims administrator Meadowbrook Insurance was not required to pay a controversial fee for interpreting services because the interpreter did not file a second review complaint prior to filing a lien.

Meadowbrook argued that California Labor Code Section 4603.2 states that if the only dispute is the amount of the payment and the provider does not request a second review within 90 days, the bill will be deemed satisfied and neither employer nor employee will be liable for any additional Payment.

A vendor cannot resubmit the invoice to the admin, nor can they alone make a written request for the remaining payment and later argue that those requests should be construed as requests for a second review. CCR § 9792.5.5 contains special requirements as well as a special form, the DWC Form SBR-1, which must be submitted with the request.

Submission for the second review is mandatory. If this step is skipped, a vendor could risk foregoing all recovery rights for the disputed amount.

Set market price

In Guitron’s en-banc ruling against Santa Fe Extruder, the Board of Appeal found that while an employer is required to pay an interpreter for medical appointments, the interpreter must demonstrate entitlement to the fees charged. For the reimbursement of fees for interpreting services, the applicant for the lien must prove the following:

  • The services provided were reasonably necessary.
  • The services were actually provided.
  • The interpreter was qualified to provide the services.
  • The fees were reasonable.

CCR §9795.3 requires the interpreter to set the market price for the services by providing the claims administrator with documentation, including a list of the most recent similar services provided and the amounts paid. This could take the form of a previous payment by other carriers. If these documents are not presented, the interpreter could not bear the burden of proving his case for a higher market price.

Requirement for the provision of certified interpreters

Another argument a claims administrator could make against higher interpreting rates and overall billing is the argument that the interpreter appearing was not certified. While a claims administrator / employer must pay for interpreting services in order to break down barriers to communication, Section 4600 (g) of the Labor Code states that an employer is not required to pay for the services of an interpreter who is not certified or provisionally certified as the person who who will carry out the medical treatment or examination unless the administrator / employer agrees in advance.

In other words, if the interpreter does not meet the required certifications, the invoices may be refused payment in their entirety. Claims administrators should therefore make a habit of regularly checking the certification numbers of interpreters who appear.


It should be noted that, while the above arguments can be advanced, the process on these issues involves considerable risk. After all, there is not much case law on the subject that could make the experimental results more unpredictable. And the longer the issue is negotiated and the longer the remaining balance is not paid, the more interest accrues on each day of the service until the outstanding amount is paid.

With that in mind, we encourage you to carefully choose which interpreter fee disputes you wish to bring to court.

Julie Insisoulath is a lawyer with Bradford & Barthel in Oakland. This entry from Bradford & Barthel’s blog is published with permission.

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