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Kamin: The Jack of All Trades

By John P. Kamin

Tuesday, January 30, 2018 | 736 | 0 | min read

What do a landscaper, licensed vocational nurse and a grocery store clerk all have in common? All three are at elevated risks for slips and falls, no matter how diligent or careful they are. There are many unique parallels. 

John P. Kamin

John P. Kamin

For starters, anyone can have a slip and fall, and unfortunately, many people do. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics noted that there were more than 200,000 of them in 2015, and Liberty Mutual reported that these types of falls caused almost $11 billion in national workers’ compensation costs in 2016.

However, the similarities among the industries we represent are more subtle and complex than slippery floors and distracted cellphone-wielding pedestrians.

For instance, the seasonal agricultural workers in the Central Valley and the cameramen at the studios in the San Fernando Valley are both likely to have a large number of employers during any given year. That can result in complicated cumulative trauma claims with numerous defendants, and impact everything from the average weekly wage calculations to contribution disputes.

Meanwhile, long-haul truckers, furniture delivery drivers and plumbers tend to have a few more auto accidents than others because they are on the road a lot more than the rest of us. A good defense attorney will immediately question whether the injury occurred in the course and scope of employment, or if there a nonindustrial deviation to stop for a beer and a game of pool along the way.

Regardless of the industry, Southern California is full of recently terminated employees who cannot wait to file that post-termination claim, whether it’s a waiter, bartender, delivery driver, receptionist and so on. Fortunately, our friends in Northern California have not adopted that trend, largely due to Northern California physicians’ refusal to treat on a lien basis.

Some of our lawmakers are currently working on legislation to tackle the post-termination cumulative trauma claim epidemic, but in the meantime we must continue to aggressively push these claims to AOE/COE trials on a regular basis.

Each client has elements that are unique to his own line of work. While everyone appreciates a strong and vigorous defense, some risk managers prefer to settle early on whereas others will make settlement a last resort.

For example, the risk manager at a large factory may be more averse to paying an extra few thousand dollars to settle a case at a deposition, in fear of the very real fact that the rest of the employees might get similar ideas about filing fishy claims.

By comparison, the owner of a successful small laundry business might be more risk-averse because he has only a handful of well-known employees who are happy where they work.

There are some applicants who will always want to return to work. The most common factors among them is that the pay is good, the group health benefits are impossible to beat or they are good friends with the boss.

John P. Kamin is a workers’ compensation defense attorney at Bradford & Barthel’s Tarzana location. He is WorkCompCentral's former legal editor. This blog post is reprinted with the firm's permission.


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