Recognizing women in law during Women’s History Month

March 30, 2016 | 9:01 am


As March’s Women’s History Month comes to a close, Chain | Cohn | Stiles commemorates the achievements and contributions of women in United States history.

The theme of this year’s Women’s History Month is “Working to Form a More Perfect Union: Honoring Women in Public Service and Government.” And since this theme includes those women working in legal fields, Chain | Cohn | Stiles wished to recognize those women, specifically those at the Bakersfield-based law firm fighting for justice for injury, accident and crime victims.

Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch this month delivered remarks at the U.S. Department of Justice Women’s History Month Celebration. In her statement, Lynch acknowledged the contributions of women who serve as “prosecutors and paralegals, trial attorneys and special agents, spokespeople and support staff.”

” … Women are essential to our ongoing efforts to protect the rights and well-being of every American,” Lynch said.

Still, she said, “there is a great deal of work still left to be done.” Women remain underrepresented in government and business in the United States, and continue to face a number of uniquely difficult challenges, she said.

“More than ever, we are dedicated to ensuring that our nation’s promises of freedom, opportunity and justice for all are delivered equally across gender lines.”

At Chain | Cohn | Stiles, 75 percent of the staff are women, including attorneys Beatriz Trejo and Felicia Schoepfer-Altmiller. Other women in the office work as paralegals, legal assistants, file clerks and receptionists. It’s important for the law firm to adequately represent clients.

Beatriz Trejo is an associate in the law firm’s workers’ compensation* department, and is fluent in Spanish. Associate Felicia Schoepfer-Altmiller works in Chain | Cohn | Stiles personal injury department.

Recently, a great moment was captured in front of the Kern County Superior Court when nearly 100 local women attorneys and other law officials — including Chain | Cohn | Stiles lawyers Beatriz Trejo and Felicia Schoepfer-Altmiller — took part in a group photo for Women’s History Month. (Photo Credit: Alekxia Torres Stallings)

Also included in the group shot were Kern County Supervisor Leticia Perez, retired judge Sharon Mettler, U.S. Magistrate Judge Jennifer Thurston, and Kern County District Attorney Lisa Green. For media coverage of this occasion, click here for the KGET-17 (NBC) news video.

Women’s History Month originated as a national celebration in 1981 to pay tribute “to the generations of women whose commitment to nature and the planet have proved invaluable to society,” according to the Women’s History Month website.

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*NOTICE: Making a false or fraudulent Workers’ Compensation claim is a felony subject to up to 5 years in a prison or a fine of up to $150,000 or double the value of the fraud, whichever is greater, or by both imprisonment and fine.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles attorney joins El Cascabel on Spanish radio station La Caliente 96.9

March 9, 2016 | 8:56 am


Chain | Cohn | Stiles has partnered with La Caliente 96.9 to assist radio station listeners who need help with their potential accident, injury or workers’ compensation* cases.

Workers’ compensation associate attorney Beatriz Trejo, who is bilingual in English and Spanish, has become a regular of sorts on El Show De Cascabel, a Spanish language show. The program is hosted by Juan Leal, who goes by the nickname “El Cascabel,” and Marina Moreno, whose alias is “La China.” The widely popular Kern County show airs on FM station 96.9 from 2 to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Trejo appeared recently on the show, in a 6 to 7 p.m. segment to discuss her services, and answer questions from listeners. More than dozen listeners called into the show, and others asked for legal assistance through the radio station’s Facebook page. Questions included how to handle employers who threaten to fire employees who report issues they may be having at work, how to properly handle paperwork related to work injuries, and much more.

To listen to Beatriz’s appearances on the El Cascabel show, see the links at the bottom of the page. You can also catch her live periodically at 96.9 FM, or listen online by clicking here.

Trejo could also be heard at various times during the week with El Cascabel answering pressing legal questions from listeners throughout Bakersfield and Kern County.

Trejo earned her bachelor’s degree from Cal State Bakersfield and her master’s degree from Cal State Northridge. She earned her law degree from the University of Akron School of Law in Ohio. Trejo has a distinct advantage in her profession in that she is a former defense attorney and is familiar with the inner workings of insurance companies, insurance carriers, and self-insured employers. She joined Chain | Cohn | Stiles to fight for injured workers in 2014.

As for the radio show’s hosts, Juan Leal has been a radio personality since 1995 in Mexico and the United States. He has developed a following throughout Kern County for his sense of humor, sincerity and community engagement. You may have heard is voice on local auto dealership spots, infomercials, narrations, commercials, and spoken word poetry. His partner, Marina “La China” Moreno has been featured on the radio since 2003.

Stay tuned to 96.9 FM for more in this partnership.

And if you or a someone you know needs assistance with a potential accident, injury or workers’ compensation case, call the lawyers at Chain | Cohn | Stiles for a free consultation at 661-323-4000, or visit the website chainlaw.com.

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Click the links below to listen to Beatriz Trejo on El Cascabel Show on La Caliente 96.9 FM:

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*NOTICE: Making a false or fraudulent Workers’ Compensation claim is a felony subject to up to 5 years in a prison or a fine of up to $150,000 or double the value of the fraud, whichever is greater, or by both imprisonment and fine.

Week of firm philanthropy includes fundraisers for disabled residents, alumni scholarships, families of fallen officers

October 21, 2015 | 8:59 am


Chain | Cohn | Stiles this month is supporting several causes throughout Kern County including an event that raises funds to provide programs and services to local children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, another fundraiser to assist families of fallen officers throughout Kern County, and an event to provide scholarships to Cal State Bakersfield students.

Learn more about these causes, and others supported by the Bakersfield-based law firm, below:

CHiPs FOR TIPS

California Highway Patrol will host its sixth “Tips for CHiPs” luncheon fundraiser on Wednesday, Oct. 21, at Outback Steakhouse in Bakersfield, and Chain | Cohn | Stiles is serving as a sponsor.

The fundraiser benefits the California Association of Highway Patrolmen Widows and Orphans Trust Fund, which helps families whose loved ones are killed in or off the line of duty. The fund is organized by the California Association of Highway Patrolmen, a nonprofit that represents about 11,000 active and retired CHP officers, and is dedicated to assisting families of CHP officers.

At the luncheon, CHP officers serve diners and wait on tables. For $25, diners can choose from a menu of steak, chicken or salmon with all the trimmings. Side dishes include bread, salad, vegetables, mash potatoes, and, of course, the restaurant’s famous Bloomin’ Onion. Dessert is also included.

In six years, the organization has raised nearly $100,000 to assist local families, making Kern County’s event the single highest fundraising event for the Widows and Orphans Fund in California, organizers say.

Tickets are $25, and can be purchased at the door starting at 11 a.m. For more information, visit the Tips for CHiPs Facebook page by clicking here.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles for years has supported CHP causes and programs. Many times, the Kern County attorneys represent CHP officers in workers’ compensation* and personal injury cases.

To see previous news coverage of the event, click here.

NEW ADVANCES FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES

New Advances for People with Disabilities (NAPD) is hosting its 21st annual Friends of NAPD “Walter H. Cochneuer Memorial,” golf tournament on Friday, Oct. 23, at Buena Vista Golf Course.

The local nonprofit provides critical services every day to more than 500 children and adults in Kern County with intellectual and developmental disabilities to empower them to live more productive, rewarding and independent lives. The golf tournament helps make sure these services continue to be provided to these people in need.

To join Chain | Cohn | Stiles in getting involved, call 661-395-1361. For more information on NAPD, call 661-327-8531 or visit the web page here.

CSU BAKERSFIELD ALUMNI ASSOCIATION ‘PARTY IN THE PARK’

Cal State Bakersfield’s Alumni Association will host its annual “Party in the Park” on Friday evening, Oct. 23, at the CSUB Alumni Park.

Funds raised from the event go toward alumni scholarships, membership outreach, and mentoring opportunities for current CSUB students.

Two Chain | Cohn | Stiles associates are alumni of CSUB:

  • Chad Boyles earned his bachelor’s degree from CSUB before attending law school at Whittier Law School.
  • Beatriz Trejo earned her bachelor’s degree as well from CSUB before getting her master’s degree from Cal State Northridge and law degree from University of Akron School of Law.

For more information on the event, go to www.csub.edu/partyinthepark.

MORE OCTOBER COMMUNITY SERVICES

Here are a few other October events and causes supported by Chain | Cohn | Stiles. To see a list of organizations supported in recent years by the law firm, click here.

  • Nathan’s Army 5K, held Oct. 3, raises money to help cure pediatric brain tumors.
  • For the entire month of October, Chain | Cohn | Stiles lights at its new building in downtown Bakersfield will be shining pink in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. See a picture here.
  • The law firm served as a sponsor for the 99 Music Fest and the Supermoto Invitational Jump Start Classic.

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*NOTICE: Making a false or fraudulent Workers’ Compensation claim is a felony subject to up to 5 years in a prison or a fine of up to $150,000 or double the value of the fraud, whichever is greater, or by both imprisonment and fine.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles visits Kern County prison employees to provide tips, resources

October 14, 2015 | 10:44 am


Workers’ Compensation* attorneys and staff from Chain | Cohn | Stiles recently visited Kern Valley State Prison in Delano to provide resources and tips prison staff and correctional officers.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles took part in the recent annual health fair for Kern Valley State Prison staff, which is hosted by the prison to “increase awareness of beneficial programs and products available to staff,” according to organizers.

Participation by the workers’ compensation and personal injury law firm in the health fair was part of the law firm’s partnership with Kern County prisons called Group Law Services. The program, started by the Chain | Cohn | Stiles nearly 50 years ago, provides quality legal help for working people in Kern County, especially those who belong to local credit unions, labor unions and service organizations. Through Group Law Services, members and their immediate family members are entitled to free initial consultations, reduced fees if ever in need of help from our law firm, and other benefits.

To see a list of local groups that provide their members with full access to Group Law Services benefits, click here. If your group is not a member, but are interested in becoming a member, please call 661-323-4000.

Benefits are provided to correctional officers and staff members of all Kern County prisons including Kern Valley State Prison, North Kern State Prison, California Correctional Institution, and Wasco State Prison. Among the most common clients coming to Chain | Cohn | Stiles from these prisons are correctional officers as part of the California Correctional Peace Officers Association.

Job injuries, unfortunately, are a part of life for officers working in prisons. They are exposed to various dangers and physical demands unique in their workplace. Assaults by inmates, for example, are a common occurrence.

It’s important for these officers to take notice of their legal rights and obligations under California workers’ compensation laws. Here are some general tips employees of prisons can follow if injured on the job:

  • Report an injury as soon as possible.
  • Get names of any witnesses.
  • Get medical treatment if you need it.
  • Make sure to explain how you got hurt.
  • Fill out accident report forms accurately.
  • Be consistent in your statements.
  • Do not give a tape recorded statement to an insurer.
  • Consider talking to a workers’ compensation lawyer.

If you are injured in a work-related incident, or suffer from a disease or ailment caused by your employment, you should protect your rights, and the best way to do so is to retain a competent workers’ compensation attorney.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles workers’ compensation attorney James Yoro has nearly 40 years of experience in Kern County, and attorney Beatriz Trejo can assist Spanish speaking injured clients as well.

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*NOTICE: Making a false or fraudulent Workers’ Compensation claim is a felony subject to up to 5 years in a prison or a fine of up to $150,000 or double the value of the fraud, whichever is greater, or by both imprisonment and fine.

5 things every employer should make sure employees know about their workplace rights

September 30, 2015 | 10:18 am


NOTE: The article below, written by Chain | Cohn | Stiles workers’ compensation attorneys James Yoro and Beatriz Trejo, appeared in the August/September 2015 issue of the Kern Business Journal. The Kern Business Journal is a bi-monthly publication of The Bakersfield Californian, showcasing business and industry developments across Kern County.

It is important for employers to talk to their employees about their rights at the workplace before an incident occurs. The personal injury and workers’ compensation* law firm Chain | Cohn | Stiles reminds employers to discuss regulatory issues, industry trends and state requirements with their employees.

To see the entire publication online, click here. To see the article only online, click here

 

For employers, knowing information about regulatory issues, industry trends and state requirements is crucial to the success of a business. Business owners can even find themselves in regulatory trouble if they don’t follow new rules.

For example, it’s especially important and required, for California employers to post workplace information to inform their employees of their rights.

These postings must be in an area frequented by employees where it may be easily accessed and read during an average workday. Common locations for postings include a company break room, near an employee entrance, kitchen or copy room. Employers are required to post information about wages, hours, working conditions, unemployment insurance, and disability insurance and paid family leave.

Although additional posting requirements apply to certain employers, the basic posting requirements are clear for all employers. Here are just a few of them:

1) Essential notices

The California Department of Industrial Relations requires that most employers post the state’s minimum wage, provide information about paid sick leave, its entitlement and usage. An employer must also provide information indicating its regular paydays, including the time and place of payment.

2) Safety first

Although safety notices vary greatly depending on the employer, all employers must have pertinent information regarding safety rules in English and Spanish and have emergency responders’ phone numbers. Employers in certain industries, such as employers who use hazardous material or equipment or who employ more than a specified number of employees, may have additional posting requirements.

3) Benefits postings

All employers must post workers’ compensation information and benefits notices. There is no set format for providing this notice, so long as all necessary information is contained in it. Although an employer may elect to send their notices to the administrative director of the California Division of Workers’ Compensation for review and approval, most employer’s workers’ compensation insurance of claims administrator will often provide this service and will supply the employer with a professionally printed copy of the poster and worker’s compensation claims forms. Other forms or pamphlets might also need to be provided to new hires or in certain situations.

4) When to post

Employers need not replace the postings every year. Postings need to be revised and replaced when the content changes. Most postings do not change once the language has been established. The California Department of Industrial Relations will announce posting updates on its webpage – dir.ca.gov – when they occur.

5) Get some help

There are several agencies that help employers navigate through the posting requirements at no cost. The California Department of Industrial Relations provides a list of industries and occupational groups from which an employer can get information about specific posting requirements. The Industrial Welfare Commission also has an alphabetical index of businesses and occupations that provide employers information as to which wage order governs them. Cal/OSHA can also give employers a list of health and safety notices. Once an employer is registered with the California Employment Development Department, it will receive a notice to post from that agency. A comprehensive list of postings requirements can also be found at the California Tax Services Center website. Employers may also elect to use a private vendor to assemble packages of required posters.

– James Yoro is senior partner at Chain Cohn Stiles, where he manages the law firm’s workers’ compensation practice, and has nearly 40 years of experience in Kern County in his field. Beatriz Trejo is an associate attorney in the workers’ compensation department at Chain Cohn Stiles.

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For more information and tips on workers’ compensation or if you’ve been hurt while on the job, contact the Bakersfield workers’ compensation attorneys at 661-323-4000. Also, visit Chain | Cohn | Stiles’ specialized workers’ compensation website — for frequently asked questions and answers, and other information — by clicking here.

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*NOTICE: Making a false or fraudulent Workers’ Compensation claim is a felony subject to up to 5 years in a prison or a fine of up to $150,000 or double the values of the fraud, whichever is greater, or by both imprisonment and fine.

10 things every employer should know about workers’ compensation

March 25, 2015 | 9:37 am


Note: The following article was published in the April/May edition of the Kern Business Journal, which you can view by clicking here. The Kern Business Journal is a bi-monthly publication of the The Bakersfield Californian, showcasing business and industry developments across Kern County.

By James Yoro and Beatriz Trejo

Responsible employers and responsible employees want the same thing: to work in a safe and healthy environment. But despite the best efforts of all involved, accidents can and do happen, and a work injury is an unfortunate incident for all parties involved.

The workers’ compensation* system is based on a trade-off between employees and employers – employees are supposed to promptly receive the benefits for on-the-job injuries, and in return, the workers’ compensation benefits are the exclusive remedy for injured employees against their employer.

An employer should respond quickly and appropriately to an employee’s work injury claim so as not to unnecessarily delay the provision of the needed benefits.

But the process can be more complicated than that. Here are five things employers should consider when dealing with on-the-job injuries:

1) The employer has a duty investigate.

The law requires that when an employer has been made aware of any facts which would lead to a conclusion that an injury has occurred on the job, the employer must investigate the incident. Being made aware of the incident can be any reporting or complaint made to a supervisor, foreman, manager, administrator or any person of authority.

2) Provide a “claim form” to the employee.

Unless the injury resulted in first aid only, within one day of having knowledge of the injury, the employer must provide a “claim form” to the injured worker. Once an injured employee completes and returns the claim form to his or her employer, workers’ compensation benefits should start flowing quickly if the injury is industrial.

3)  Workers’ compensation is a no-fault system.

An injured worker will be entitled to workers’ compensation for injuries arising out of, and in the course of, employment. The injured worker does not need to prove that anyone was at fault for the accident.

4) Workers’ compensation is a benefit delivery system.

There are five types of benefits to which the injured worker may be entitled: temporary disability, permanent disability, medical treatment, vocational rehabilitation services, and death benefits.

5) There are two ways to settle a workers’ compensation case.

Once the case is ripe for settlement, the case may be settled by way of “Stipulation with Request for Award,” where the employee is paid a small weekly benefit ($230 to $270) for the percentage of permanent disability that a doctor has assigned to the injured worker, and is also entitled to any continuing reasonable and necessary medical treatment. However, the medical treatment is still under the control of the employer’s insurance company. The other type of settlement is called a “Compromise and Release.” In this case, the employer through its insurance carrier negotiates to buy-out the insurance carrier’s obligation to the injured worker for benefits and future medical care for a lump sum settlement paid to the employee.

As a bonus, here are five more general tips employers should consider when dealing with on-the-job injuries.

1) No employee wants to get hurt on the job.

If you have good employees then give them the benefit of the doubt when handling their claim.

2) Employees don’t plan on getting hurt on the job.

Just because there are no witnesses to the employees accident or injury doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. The vast majority of on-the-job injuries are not witnessed by anyone. In addition, most employees are reluctant to report injuries unless they are serious or until they become so.

Consider the following scenario:

A warehouse worker who is required to unload trucks has a particularly busy shift on a Friday when he suddenly tweaks his back lifting a load in the afternoon. Rather than stopping work and reporting it at that time, he decides to try and finish out his shift and see if he can rest it over the weekend in the hopes of alleviating his pain. However, despite resting his back over the weekend, it does not get better and when he reports for work on Monday morning, he is unable to do his regular duties and then reports his injury to his foreman.

Once again, if this person is a good employee, then give him or her the benefit of the doubt and process the claim.

3) Injured employees do not get rich off of workers’ compensation benefits.

If an injured worker is placed on temporary total disability by the company doctor, the benefit is paid at two-thirds of the employee’s average weekly wage. This benefit is only available for a total of 104 weeks. This means that if an employee has a serious injury that requires hospitalization or multiple surgeries, they may run out of benefits before they have had a chance to recover. Thereafter, the maximum benefit the employee would be entitled to receive is $230 to $270 per week for a limited period of time. In addition, all medical treatment that the injured worker receives is controlled by the insurance company. Injured workers are not entitled to receive any monetary benefit for pain and suffering, lost wages and future earnings.

4) Do not discriminate against the injured worker.

Labor Code section 132a makes it unlawful for an employer to discharge, threaten to discharge, or in any manner discriminate against an employee because that employee has filed a workers’ compensation claim, or has made known his or her intention to file such a claim or has received a disability rating, award or settlement. Whenever possible, the employer should make good-faith efforts to determine whether or not the employee can be returned to work with reasonable accommodations.

5) Treat the injured worker the way you would want to be treated if you suffered an on-the-job injury.

Employers should try and follow the Golden Rule whenever an employee suffers an on-the-job injury.

– James Yoro is senior partner at Chain | Cohn | Stiles, where he manages the law firm’s workers’ compensation practice, and has nearly 40 years of experience in his field. Beatriz Trejo is an associate attorney in the workers’ compensation department at Chain | Cohn | Stiles.

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For more information and tips on workers’ compensation, visit Chain | Cohn | Stiles’ specialized workers’ compensation website — for frequently asked questions and answers, and other information — by clicking here.

And if you’ve been hurt while on the job, contact the Bakersfield workers’ compensation attorneys at 661-323-4000. Also, visit Chain | Cohn | Stiles’ specialized workers’ compensation website — for frequently asked questions and answers, and other information — by clicking here.

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*NOTICE: Making a false or fraudulent Workers’ Compensation claim is a felony subject to up to 5 years in a prison or a fine of up to $150,000 or double the values of the fraud, whichever is greater, or by both imprisonment and fine.

New attorney joins Chain | Cohn | Stiles workers’ compensation department

February 3, 2015 | 9:13 am


The Bakersfield-based personal injury and workers’ compensation* law firm Chain | Cohn | Stiles has welcomed a new attorney to its team.

Beatriz Trejo has joined the firm’s workers compensation department as an associate, where she will represent injured Kern County workers alongside veteran attorney and Chain | Cohn | Stiles partner James Yoro.

“I’m very excited to join Chain | Cohn | Stiles in representing injured workers in Kern County,” Trejo said.

Trejo is joining a team of attorneys who, like her, grew up or have called Bakersfield home for decades. Trejo graduated from Highland High School in northeast Bakersfield, and earned her bachelor’s degree in political science from Cal State Bakersfield. At CSUB, she was part of Pi Sigma Alpha, a political science honor society.

She earned her master’s degree, also in political science, from Cal State Northridge, where she was vice president of the Pi Sigma Alpha chapter.

She earned her Juris Doctorate at University of Akron School of Law in Ohio in 2011. While she was there, she participated in the Trial Team Honor Society, and competed in several statewide and national trial competition. She was also vice president of the Akron Asian-Latino Law Student Association.

In Ohio, Trejo worked for Thomson Reuters, West, conducting legal research for Westlaw.com, and also worked as a law clerk for Akron-based law firm.

After earning her law degree, she returned to Bakersfield 2011, and worked for more than three years in the local office for a statewide workers’ compensation defense firm.

Outside of the office, Beatriz enjoys taking part in CrossFit, an intense fitness program. She’s also a fan of basketball, and cheers for the Los Angeles Lakers. Trejo is also fluent in Spanish.

If you’ve been hurt while on the job, contact the Bakersfield workers’ compensation attorneys, including Beatriz Trejo, at 661-323-4000. And visit Chain | Cohn | Stiles’ specialized workers’ compensation website — for frequently asked questions and answers, and other information — by clicking here. See Trejo’s profile on Chain | Cohn | Stiles’ website by clicking here.

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Beatriz Trejo was featured in the Feb. 3, 2015 issue of The Bakersfield Californian in the “People in Business” section. Click here to see the article of Trejo about her addition to Chain | Cohn | Stiles.

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*NOTICE: Making a false or fraudulent Workers’ Compensation claim is a felony subject to up to 5 years in a prison or a fine of up to $150,000 or double the values of the fraud, whichever is greater, or by both imprisonment and fine.