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A First-Year Associate's Perspective on Workers' Compensation in California

By Joseph Yrulegui

 

It's official. The day has come and gone. I am no longer a first-year associate. No longer do I have the stigma and aura of a newbie attorney in the big, bad workers' compensation microcosm of the legal profession. Being more experienced than words can describe, with one whole year under my belt, I felt it was time to write an article! That's one WHOLE year people! 12 months. 365 days of rabid, unbridled workers' compensation experience.

 

But wait! What do I write about? The possibilities are endless! A whole year of substantive thought to digest in one page!? Do I attack Ogilvie? How about psyche claims? I will slice and dice these topics into a clear, coherent, and articulate article which will be read for centuries to come! After all, I've been practicing for a YEAR!

 

Two weeks go by......

 

Okay. So maybe, perhaps, quite possibly I don't know as much as I think I do. Who knew Ogilvie was so complicated? I am not going to write a substantive article this time around. But, what I can do is share some preliminary "thoughts" about the workers' compensation system in California. All useless, but "thoughts" nonetheless. So here goes.

 

1. Workers' compensation law is complicated. And I thought the Rule Against Perpetuities was difficult! Now, I'm not saying civil litigation is easy, because it certainly is not. But, workers' comp is not the simple, "only for those attorneys who can't do civil," area of law some people might think it is. At least civil law is fairly constant. We have to deal with an uppity legislature who decides to completely revamp the system every 5 years. Thanks Arnold.

 

2. Doctors are not the all-knowing, beyond reproach professionals I once thought they were. This aspect is perhaps the most shocking part of workers' compensation. Going into this practice, I held the view that doctors were practically saints, only smarter. Boy was I wrong. For some of these guys, the Hippocratic Oath has waived BYE-BYE! It has been truly appalling to discover just how shady some doctors can be. I've already seen everything from over-prescribing opiates to the point of addiction, to frivolous treatment that would make a hypochondriac say "Enough doc, I'm good!" This realization has been not only horrifying, but also a revelation.

 

3. My last thought might be a little mundane, or even laughable, but it is something that has somewhat changed how I perceive medical treatment. Practicing in workers' comp has led me to believe in the effectiveness of acupuncture! Now, I must follow that up with a disclaimer. Trust me. I am not someone who easily buys into the "alternative/holistic/spiritual" medicine. I am one of those people that say, "if it hurts, take a pill." Notwithstanding thought # 3, I always believed modern medicine was the only credible solution to an injury or disease. Not anymore. I have spoken with several applicants, and I have consistently discovered acupuncture was often the only treatment that worked. So, by all means, stick those needles in your body. I believe!

 

So, there you have it. Three thoughts that I could put down on paper and not have to worry about being sued for defamation.

 

All in all, I have immensely enjoyed my time serving in the workers' compensation system. I am making arguments before a judge almost every week, I've deposed over a dozen applicants, and I've built some great relationships with our clients. Granted, I have a lot to learn, but indeed I look forward to trying my best to make the lives of applicant's attorneys a living hell. Cheers!

ARTICLES

• Industrial Smoke Exposure - The Arrival of New Regulations

• Catastrophic Injuries and the Ensuing Psych Litigation - Kris Wilson V. State of CA Cal Fire

• Senate Bill 542 Seeks to Expand Coverage For Certain Firefighting Personnel and Peace Officers

• RTW Form Not a Basis to Deny Voucher

• The Intoxication Defense is Not Always Affirmative

• King Decision and Exclusive Remedy Rule

• Medical Providers Using New Tactic to Challenge Past Bills

• Risk Factors and Apportionment City of Pealuma (Lindh) v. WCAB

• Dynamex Does Not Actually Apply to Workers’ Compensation… or Does It?

• How and Why to Establish the Validity of a Medical Provider Network at Trial

• Attorney Client Privilege & Work Product Doctrine

• The Demise of Vocational Rehabilitation Reports Post 01-01-2013

• Is The Combined Values Chart Rebuttable?

• Panel Dispute Strategy


• Changes To Utilization Review And Independent Medical Review as of 1-1-18

• Labor Code §4903.8(b) - Lien Litigation

• Res Judicata and Collateral Estoppel

• City of Jackson v. WCAB (Rice)

• Jaime Simmons v. Just Wingin’ It, Inc.

• Maxham v. SCIF

• Senate Bill 11/60/Lien Anti-Fraud Provisions and Utilization Review Changes

• Penalties Assessed Under Labor Code Section 5814

• New California Law Establishes Shared Liability Between Employer & Labor Contractor

• Rulings Concerning Medical Treatment Disputes

• Cannon Appellate Decision and The Cannon Ball Effect It Will Have

• The Beginning and Ending of Temporary Disability

• Medical Provider Network Changes

• New Lien Regulations

• Y&R Prevails Against Lien Claimants

• Want to know what the applicant is really up to?

• New En banc decision from WCAB allows Defendant's more Discovery

• A First-Year Associate's Perspective on Workers' Compensation in California

• An Alternative Strategy for Protection against Illegitimate Treating Practices

• TTD & PD Rates for Seasonal Employees

• Labor Code 4658(d)(3)(A)

• Y&R Obtains Take-Nothing from WCAB

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