RED FLAGS FOR “DOGS” - Adapted from the Presentation: Issues and Strategies in Large Loss Cases

by Gregory P. Fletcher (September 27, 2016)

There is a certain class of workers’ compensation cases which we all refer to as “dogs.” We know them when we see them. They tend to take on a life of their own. These files tend to have certain characteristics:
  • Disproportionately bad outcomes when compared to other, similar injuries;
  • Seemingly impossible to close;
  • Excessive litigation over relatively trivial issues;
  • Voluminous (often fills multiple banker’s boxes);
  • Succession of different attorneys, both on the applicant and the defense side;
  • Unrepresented injured worker;
  • Symptoms are grossly out of proportion to the initial incident or accident;
  • Multiple body parts alleged when accepted claim is only for a single body part;
  • Psychosocial factors such as family issues, a history of substance abuse or drug seeking behavior, a “problem” employee, or mental health problems;
  • “Red flag” doctors acting as primary treating physician or the Qualified Medical Examiner;
  • “Red flag” attorneys who are excessive or abusive litigators.

Dealing with (and beating) CIGA as a co-defendant

by Daniel J. Ban (September 20, 2016)

So CIGA has joined you to a case (or filed a Petition for Reimbursement and/or Change of Administrator). CIGA is demanding reimbursement and insisting that your client take over the case, including administering benefits, discovery and medical treatment. What now? How do you assess the strength of CIGA's arguments?

What is CIGA?

First off, CIGA is a unique entity: it is a legally mandated association of insurers created by CA Ins. Code section 1063. It is not a simple "successor in interest" that takes over the entire liability of insolvent carriers. Rather, CIGA has the authority and obligation to pay "covered claims" for such insurers. CIGA's position --- which it litigates vigorously and with great success --- is that it has no obligation and no authority to pay any claim that is a not a "covered claim".

I Spy For Free Vol 2: Potential Pitfalls of Social Media Discovery

by Donald R. Barthel (September 9, 2016)

Welcome to the internet age. For those of you—like me—who are of a "certain" age, a life without computers has been replaced Google, email, texts, online shopping, instant messages, LinkedIn, Twitter, Skype, Facebook...and all those other means of communication that my 15 year old children try to explain to me. (I've got to admit: I've been on electronic overload ever since the introduction of the game "Pong" in 1972!) While sometimes overwhelming, this interconnectedness has many benefits not originally intended by its creators: discovery. There is a wealth of information available with just the click or two of a mouse. Some claimants’ social media profiles are surprisingly accessible to the general public. Information on these profiles can go back over many years. It is possible to find a claimant hiking, fishing, dancing—you name it—close in time to the injury. This information can prove to be very useful during a deposition or a cross-examination. And it's nearly all free.

I posted an article in 2010, "I Spy...For Free", in which I detailed many of the advantages of conducting at least some of your discovery efforts via internet searches. (See http://bradfordbarthel.blogspot.com/2010/01/i-spy.html#more) Six years later, all of those benefits remain and many more have come to the fore. In the meantime, however, some folks have pushed the envelope a little too far, resulting in statutes, case law and state bar ethical opinions aimed at curtailing the more outrageous abuses and violations of privacy.