LEGISLATIVE ROUNDUP: New Bill Sets the Stage for Apportionment Battle

by John P. Kamin (April 2, 2018)

A bill targeting the 3rd District Court of Appeal’s published decision in the City of Jackson v. WCAB is headlining the 2018 legislative session and setting the stage for a debate over whether workers’ compensation judges should allow apportionment to genetic and hereditary factors.

State Senator Steve Bradford, D-Gardena, has introduced the latest version of his bill, SB 899, which calls the 3rd DCA’s decision in the City of Jackson v. WCAB “an abhorrent decision that violates legal norms, undermines legislative intent, and abuses the dignity of injured workers.”

Groups such as the California Applicant’s Attorneys Association (CAAA) have been critical of the decision, whereas insurers believe the decision appropriately limits employer liability to industrial injuries only.

In the City of Jackson v. WCAB decision, the 3rd DCA upheld a workers’ compensation judge’s decision that the City of Jackson had proven that apportionment of disability was 49% attributable to genetic factors. The apportionment was for disability to the applicant’s cervical spine.

“Dave’s Not Here!”: The Intoxication Defense in California Law

by Michael P. Burns (March 28, 2018)

Recent concern over the use of opioid medications, whether obtained with or without a prescription, has prompted many employers to carefully examine the sobriety of their employees. Studies have shown that two-thirds of those who misuse or abuse opioids are employed. In addition to affecting productivity, drug and alcohol abuse create concerns for insurers when industrial injuries occur.

Under Labor Code 5705(b), an applicant’s intoxication is a defense to workers’ compensation benefits when the employer can prove the employee’s intoxication was the proximate cause of the injury. Because this defense has been narrowly applied, insurers should be aware of the requirements to prove the intoxication defense.

Bradford & Barthel: The Jack of All Trades

by John P. Kamin (January 25, 2018)

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. My colleagues at Bradford & Barthel LLP have seen so many claims across a plethora of industries, we start to see unique parallels across various industries.

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 cell-phone 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.