Boxer & Gerson attorneys Dennis Popalardo and Julius Young moderated separate panels on the opening and closing days of the winter convention for the California Applicants’ Attorneys Association in late January.
The semi-annual convention of workers’ comp applicants’ attorneys throughout the state serves as a resource for attorneys who are required by the State Bar to obtain 25 hours of continuing education that cover a variety of topics. It was held at the Westin Mission Hills Resort & Spa in Rancho Mirage (near Palm Springs).
Some 1,000 attorneys attended each of 12 separate presentations spread over the convention’s three and a half days.
Popalardo, a member of the organization’s all-volunteer education committee that is charged with planning and staging the conventions, helped lead off the opening day activities on Thursday, January 25. He moderated a panel entitled, “Not-so-Special Delivery: Common Defense Tactics That Interfere with the Delivery of Injured Worker Benefits.”
The 75-minute discussion focused on a number of matters described in the session title. Among them were:
Insurance companies withholding or moving at glacial speed to grant authorization for needed treatment.
The lengths in time and expense to which insurance companies will go to deny benefits to injured workers. Defense teams often employ a rough calculus that sees them willing to absorb the high cost of an initial defense effort if the effort can effectively reduce or even deny benefits that may total a larger sum over the course of a worker’s disability.
Pressure applied to occupational medical doctors to release employees back to work without further treatment and testing that may reveal underlying medical problems caused by the worker’s injury.
Authorizing treatment for only one injured body part despite multiple parts affected by an injury.
How workers’ comp attorneys can effectively counter the fact that while defendant insurance companies have a duty to investigate an injured worker’s claim in “good faith,” as a practical matter, they often fail to do so.
“These are constant battles we are fighting in one form or other in most all cases,” said Popalardo. “Insurance companies have lots of resources and patience, and every day they can delay treatment or a settlement is a good day for them. The more that workers’ comp attorneys can learn about their tactics, the more effective they are in countering them. That made for a very well-attended event.”
Boxer & Gerson attorney and longtime blogger Julius Young helped wind up the convention proceedings on the closing day by moderating a panel entitled, “The Science of Genetics: Legal Apportionment or Politics?”
The session discussed in some detail a court battle on the issue of whether an injured worker’s genetic profile could be used to indicate that genetics may have played a causative role in the injury. The implications of this would be far-reaching, as both the panel discussion and Young’s subsequent blog post noted in some detail.