What Is an Interpreter Cost? (Labor Code 5811)

Interpreters serve a pivotal role in our society.  Because the demographics of our country are such that there are a wide variety of people and cultures coming together, it should come as no surprise that people here speak many different languages.  Interpreter services allow people who are not fluent in English can use interpreter services for help with court proceedings ranging from custody to criminal proceedings.  If you provide interpreter services, you have likely supplied your expertise for workers’ compensation cases.  You work hard to provide quality services, but sometimes you may run into trouble getting paid for the services you have properly provided.  When considering how to move forward to get properly paid for services rendered, there are variety of rules and laws which apply.  California Labor Code 5811 is one of the statutes you should carefully review.

Labor Code 5811(b) speaks specifically to interpreter services.  The law provides that it is the responsibility of the party who is producing the witness needing an interpreter to arrange for the interpreter to be present.  The law also defines who is a qualified interpreter, and the interpreter must qualify under certain other provisions of California law in order to be considered under this subsection.  The law also provides that interpreter fees that are “reasonably, actually, and necessarily incurred shall be paid by the employer under this section”.  In other words, the employer is responsible for those interpreter costs.  However, that also brings up the question, what is an allowable interpreter cost?

Fortunately, the labor code also discusses which proceedings could qualify as those for which an interpreter may claim costs that the employer must pay.  The labor code states that a qualified interpreter may render services during: a) a deposition; b) an appeals board meeting; c) a medical treatment appointment or medical-legal examination; or d) “during those settings which the administrative director determines are reasonably necessary to ascertain the validity or extent of injury to an employee who does not proficiently speak or understand the English language.”  Deposition review, deposition preparation, and translation of settlement documents are all additional services that the Carrier should ordinarily be responsible for paying.  Clearly, this provides some leeway to the administrative director to include other interpreter services that are not specifically outlined as those interpreter services which the employer must pay.  This discretion can cut both ways, however.  Although the administrator may find in your favor that the setting in which you provided services was “reasonably necessary” for the case, it is also possible the administrator can find the other way.  In that case, the employer would not be responsible for paying your expenses.  In other words, before you provide interpreter services for a proceeding or in a setting that is not already specifically detailed in the labor code, you should be sure that the service is “reasonably necessary” in that particular workers’ compensation case.  It is also important to keep in mind that there are timelines for when bills for these costs can be sent and when petitions may be filed; make sure you consult with your attorney when trying to set up your payment timelines.

Contact us today at 714-860-7688.  We will talk to you about your interpreter business and how we can help you collect the money you are owed for providing interpreter services.

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