NOTE: BOXER & GERSON STRONGLY SUPPORTS ASSEMBLY BILL 5 AND ITS INCREASED PROTECTIONS FOR CALIFORNIA WORKERS IN THIS UNCERTAIN ECONOMY
A veteran of the insurance industry chose Boxer & Gerson to represent him nearly five years ago after an on-the-job accident led to a failed back surgery that left him unable to work and in constant pain. His travail came to an end recently when Boxer & Gerson attorney Deirdre Mochel secured an $850,000 cash settlement for him after a protracted and complex legal battle.
Mochel’s client suffered his original injury in 2008 and relied on his own knowledge of the industry to represent himself at that time. He settled in 2011 for a modest sum in workers’ compensation benefits and returned to work that he enjoyed and desired to continue doing.
Unfortunately, his recovery did not go well and his condition steadily deteriorated. A subsequent surgery failed and left him in even worse shape, unable to function in any job, suffering adverse side effects from various medications, and in terrible pain.
His struggles dealing with his former employer’s insurance carrier finally led him to Boxer & Gerson in 2012. The typically long, multi-year process culminated in the settlement last November, when the insurance company gave up on its continued efforts to dispute the man’s significant disability and consented to a lump sum settlement of $850,000.
“The case was complicated by a couple of different factors,” said Mochel. “One was the difficulty of establishing medical evidence of his disability over and above the standard rating guidelines for workers’ compensation injuries. Second was the fact that he had been a candidate for spinal surgery before this injury. The insurance company argued that his prior back condition was a contributing factor that should limit my client’s recovery, but we were able to establish that his spinal condition did not relate to his current disability.”
Another factor affecting the outcome was Mochel’s work to have two expert doctors agree that her client was 100 percent permanently and totally disabled because of the failed back surgery. “Doctors are often hesitant to make a finding that requires such significant deviation from the standard rating guidelines,” she said. “They usually defer such judgments to vocational experts, so that was a key factor in securing the settlement.”
Mochel noted that if the insurance company had continued to force litigation the case might have gone on another two to three years before her client would have seen the funds required to adequately deal with his continued pain and living expenses.
“After nine years, he was ready to settle and get on with his life, with some control over seeing the doctors of his choice and using medications that work best to control his pain,” she said. “This was the best outcome we could hope for. It allowed him great peace of mind and the funds to address his medical condition in the way he and his doctors see fit.”