Partners David Cohn, James Yoro named as 2016 Southern California Super Lawyers

February 3, 2016 | 10:42 am


David Cohn and James Yoro, partners with the Bakersfield-based law firm Chain | Cohn | Stiles, have been named Super Lawyers by Southern California’s Super Lawyers Magazine.

This is the fifth year straight that Cohn has received the honor, awarded to no more than 5 percent of lawyers in the Southern California region based on a high-degree of peer recognition and personal achievement. And it’s the first time Yoro has earned this distinction.

“This is a huge honor to be recognized by the legal professionals I deeply respect, and work with day in and day out,” said Yoro, who manages the law firm’s workers’ compensation* department.

Added Cohn, managing partner at Chain | Cohn | Stiles: “I’m humbled to be selected year after year for this tremendous honor.”

The two attorneys have worked together since 1982. Yoro is in his 34th year working under at the Chain law firm, and Cohn is in his 41st year under the Chain name, representing local injury and accident victims.

Their honor was highlighted recently in “People in Business” section of The Bakersfield Californian. See it by clicking here.

Each year, the Super Lawyers selection process includes independent research, peer nominations and peer evaluations. The Super Lawyers program selects attorneys using a multi-phase selection process where each candidate is evaluated on 12 indicators of peer recognition and professional achievement, according to Super Lawyers. The objective of the recognition program is “to create a credible, comprehensive and diverse listing of outstanding attorneys that can be used as a resource for attorneys and consumers searching for legal counsel.”

Since Super Lawyers is intended to be used as an aid in selecting an attorney, the program limits the lawyer ratings to those who can be hired and retained by the public, the Super Lawyers website states.

As part of the honor, Cohn and Yoro are highlighted in the 2016 issue of Southern California Super Lawyers Magazine along with other awarded legal professionals.

With Yoro being chosen as a Super Lawyer, Chain | Cohn Stiles now has three attorneys selected for the honor. Attorney Matthew Clark has been named a “Rising Star” in the Super Lawyers program the past four years. That honor is bestowed upon only 2.5 percent of lawyers under the age of 40 in the Southern California region. You can ready his profile on the Super Lawyers website by clicking here.

To learn more about Cohn, visit his attorney profile by clicking here. You can also read his profile on the Super Lawyers website by clicking here. For more on Yoro, click here.

And if you or someone you know is involved in an accident, at work or outside of work, call Chain | Cohn | Stiles at 661-323-4000, or visit the website chainlaw.com.

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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.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles takes underprivileged children back-to-school shopping in ‘Childspree’ for second year

August 4, 2015 | 11:11 am


The start of the 2015-16 school year for most students throughout Bakersfield and Kern County is right around the corner.

But for some underprivileged students in the San Joaquin Valley, they are not able to participate in the joys of back-to-school shopping. For those students, they are denied the opportunity to buy new clothes and school supplies at the start of each new school year.

The Bakersfield personal injury and workers’ compensation* law firm Chain | Cohn | Stiles partnered once again with Active 20-30 Club of Bakersfield to sponsor underprivileged children in the annual “Childspree” back-to-school shopping program. The program allows sponsors to ease the mind of more than 200 local students with a morning of shopping at both Kohl’s department stores in Bakersfield, this year held on Aug. 1. Each child is also given a new backpack filled with new school supplies, along with a $100 Kohl’s gift card to buy new clothes.

Ten employees from Chain | Cohn | Stiles volunteered for this year’s Childspree, accompanying children of various ages through Kohl’s to help them choose new shoes and clothes. This was the second year in a row that Chain | Cohn | Stiles took part in the nonprofit program.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles volunteers included workers’ compensation attorney James Yoro, with his family.

“Many families in Kern County unfortunately don’t have the means to provide new clothes to their children for the new school year,” said Yoro, a partner at Chain | Cohn | Stiles. “If we can ease the burden for at least some local children by providing them with new clothes for school, we’re happy to help. We understand that for many of them, this will be their only new clothes for the year.”

Other groups involved in Childspree include Bakersfield Rotary, CASA of Kern County, Community Connection for Child Care, California Youth Connection Kern County, and Boys & Girls Clubs of Kern County.

Founded in 1928, the Active 20-30 Cub of Bakersfield is part of a national nonprofit group with the main goal of “providing young adults the opportunity for personal growth, friendship and leadership development, while improving the quality of life for the children of Kern County.” Each branch of the club raises funds for underprivileged children in their community. In addition to Childspree, the Active 20-30 Club of Bakersfield hosts other community events the Christmas Experience, which provides gifts to underprivileged families throughout Kern County.

For more information on Childspree and other Active 20-30 Club programs, go to www.active2030.org. And to view other community involvement efforts by Chain | Cohn | Stiles, visit the Community page here.

— By Jessica Magee for Chain | Cohn | Stiles

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MEDIA

Lawmakers, attorneys battle for fairness in workers’ compensation cases

May 12, 2015 | 10:50 am


Several recent news stories in Kern County and California have raised debate about workers’ compensation* issues and how workers can be more fairly compensated for job-related injuries and illnesses.

Workers’ compensation and women

California lawmakers approved a bill recently that would update state’s workers’ compensation law so that medical problems affecting mostly women will no longer be considered pre-existing conditions in calculating the compensation for job-related injuries and illnesses, the Associated Press reported.

Women often receive less pay than men for suffering the same injury because the law allows discounted rates for pregnancy, breast cancer, menopause, osteoporosis or a psychiatric disability related to those diagnoses.

Bakersfield workers’ compensation attorney James Yoro says that the out-of-date state law discriminates against women in the workplace. Yoro is a Certified Workers’ Compensation Professional in California, and is one of the most veteran and most respected workers’ compensation lawyers in the San Joaquin Valley.

“We should reduce the effects of the recent legislation that has caused hardships for injured workers by proposing additional regulations that would prevent this type of thing happening,” said Yoro, with the law firm Chain | Cohn | Stiles.

Yoro sits on the Board of Governors for the California Applicants’ Attorneys Association, which is working to minimize the harsh effects of the law.

Insurance fight

BakersfieldNow.com recently highlighted the story of a man who was injured badly in a big rig explosion and fighting with an insurance company over workers’ compensation.

Donovan Dixon, of Bakersfield, was left in critical condition after a crash on Highway 710 in which a vehicle in front of him lost its rear axle and got stuck underneath Dixon’s tanker, carrying crude oil. He suffered major injuries, including burns and a broken pelvis, and spent two and a half months in a coma.

The insurance company denied to authorize physical therapy, Dixon said, and also a bed that doctors said he needed to sleep comfortably. The insurance company could not comment to BakersfieldNow.com on the specific case. Dixon said he was sick of big companies gaming the system to deny people like himself.

“It’s unfortunate what happened to this individual,” Yoro said.

Additionally, Yoro said, Dixon hired an attorney outside of Bakersfield, which could cause some hardships. The law allows victims to file lawsuits in their hometowns, and not where accidents have taken place.

“Accident victims don’t have to go outside of this area to get representation. We have specialists here,” Yoro said.

New workers’ compensation battle

Lastly, a new workers’ compensation bill has sparked a new battle in California, according to The Sacramento Bee.

Senate Bill 563, by Sen. Richard Pan, would partially undo the 2012 legislation by softening “utilization review” of medical treatments, aimed at approving only those deemed to be medically necessary. Sponsors contend that without changes, the current system denies injured workers badly needed treatment.

To read more on this, click here.

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If you are ever involved in an accident due to the fault of another, or are injured at work, contact the personal injury and workers’ compensation lawyers at Chain | Cohn | Stiles at 661-323-4000 or visit the website chainlaw.com. Or visit the law firm’s specialized workers’ compensation website 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 value of the fraud, whichever is greater, or by both imprisonment and fine.

Happy Birthday Delano! Chain | Cohn | Stiles helps Kern County city celebrate centennial anniversary

April 14, 2015 | 6:00 am


In 1873, Southern Pacific Railroad decided to build a post between Kern and Tulare counties. They named the area in honor of Columbus Delano, the U.S. Secretary of Interior at the time.

Forty-two years later — on April 13, 1915 — the City of Delano was officially incorporated. And 100 years later, today, Delano is celebrating 100 years.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles is proud to be a sponsor of Delano’s Centennial Celebration, culminating with a parade and festival on Saturday, April 18. The City of Delano held a birthday party celebration on April 13, the day the city was incorporated.

As the Delano100.com website explains, Delano has long been regarded as an “international community,” populated by people whose origins are from Mexico, Spain, China, France, Japan, Philippines, Russia and India, among others. Last year, for example, thousands congregated in Delano for a month’s worth of events designed to unite, celebrate and commemorate the Kern County city’s large Filipino population. It was the city’s 40th Philippine Weekend.

And the area has long been known for its agriculture and its farmers, who have the task of feeding the world. In the 1960s, for example, Delano became known as the headquarters of the United Farm Workers and its efforts to organize farm workers.

Today, the city hosts some of the best schools in Kern County, and is being continues to develop commercially and attract various large industries, according to Delano100.com. In fact, Delano is being revitalized with a new 160-acre commercial center and residential growth.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles and its attorneys are proud to support the celebrations honoring the City of Delano. In fact, workers’ compensation* lawyer James Yoro, who is Filipino, takes part each year in Philippine Weekend.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles often takes park in the Delano Chamber of Commerce‘s street fairs, which give CCS a chance to answer Delano resident’s legal questions, share tips and information, and give out CCS goodies to the families in Delano.

For Delano’s Centennial celebration, the city has been host to several events already.

  • Delano held a “Centennial Celebration Gala” on Jan. 31.
  • The “Delano Centennial Music Memorial” was held Feb. 26.
  • The “Centennial Music In Our Schools” program was held March 26.
  • The “Centennial City Walk and Earth Day Celebration” was held March 28.
  • The “Happy Birthday City of Delano” event was held April 13.
  • Finally, the “Centennial Parade and Festival” will be held Saturday, April 18, which will feature vendors, concessionaires and exhibitors. The parade begins at 10 a.m. in downtown Main Street after the Kiwanis Club Pancake Breakfast. The festival follows the parade at 12 p.m. at Cecil Park and will feature food, games and fireworks.

For more information on the Centennial celebration, visit the Delano100 website by clicking here.

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.

Failing workers’ compensation system ‘adding inequality to injury’

March 10, 2015 | 10:25 am


Note: The following article was written by Chain | Cohn | Stiles senior partner James A. Yoro, who manages the Bakersfield-based law firm’s Workers’ Compensation* Department, for publication into The Bakersfield Californian’s “Community Voices” section. You can the full article in the Kern County Journal here

By James A. Yoro

One of the most important protections that employees have is a workers’ compensation system that is supposed to provide them with minimum necessary benefits when they suffer an injury on the job.

This system was predicated on a “Grand Bargain” that was initiated during the Industrial Revolution to deal with the rising tide of work-related injuries and death. The injured worker gave up the right to sue the employer for civil damages. In exchange, the employee would receive medical treatment and a sufficient amount of monetary benefits to help them get by during their recovery period. If their injuries caused some permanent limitation or restriction on their ability to function, additional benefits were paid to reflect their level of disability. If they were unable to return to their usual and customary job, they would be provided retraining to help them adjust to other more suitable employment within their limitations.

Workers’ compensation was a progressive idea that came to fruition at a time when we as a society recognized that it was not fair to treat injured workers as if they were nothing more than a piece of broken machinery – something to be discarded and replaced. Human capital is a valuable commodity that contributes to the success of our economy. Therefore, when workers get injured, they should be helped and cared for and not marginalized. Originally, this was the goal of the Workers’ Compensation system. At the beginning of the 20th century, all 50 states adopted such a system in accordance with this philosophy.

But in the last 15 years, things have gone horribly awry for the injured worker.

Within the last week, two investigative reports and several news articles – including by OSHA and the U.S. Department of Labor, National Public Radio and The Washington Post – reveal how poorly injured workers are now being treated in the Workers’ Compensation system and the effect this cost shifting of the burden has affected our economy and our society.

The Department of Labor report titled, “Adding inequality to injury: The costs of failing to protect workers on the job,” summarized its findings as follows:

“The costs of workplace injuries are borne primarily by injured workers, their families, and taxpayer-supported components of the social safety net. Changes in state based workers’ compensation insurance programs have made it increasingly difficult for injured workers to receive the full benefits (including adequate wage replacement payments and coverage for medical expenses) to which they are entitled. Employers now provide only a small percentage (about 20 percent) of the overall financial cost of workplace injuries and illnesses through workers’ compensation. This cost-shift has forced injured workers, their families and taxpayers to subsidize the vast majority of the lost income and medical care costs generated by these conditions.”

The study concluded that the “failure of many employers to prevent millions of work injuries and illnesses each year, and the failure of the broken workers’ compensation system to ensure that workers do not bear the costs of their injuries and illnesses, are truly adding inequality to injury.”

I have represented injured workers for more than 25 years and I’ve seen firsthand this slow deterioration in the system and how it has affected those most vulnerable in our society – the injured, the handicapped and disabled – in their struggle to obtain the benefits they deserve and achieve some measure of dignity. At times, my level of frustration is overwhelming as I gaze into the eyes of my clients and see the look of quiet desperation in their eyes as they struggle to avoid near poverty, bankruptcy and sometimes divorce simply because they got injured on the job.

Franklin Roosevelt once said, “The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.”

If this is the measure for progress then the workers’ compensation system is in a period of regression. The “Grand Bargain” is no longer a bargain.

– James A. Yoro is a certified workers’ compensation attorney with nearly 40 years of legal experience, and partner at the Bakersfield-based law firm Chain | Cohn | Stiles.

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Learn more about the recent reports on the workers’ compensation system:

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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.

Work-related illnesses, Valley Fever, could result in workers’ compensation claim

January 20, 2015 | 10:22 am


Some people wouldn’t consider getting sick on the job as a workers’ compensation* injury issue.

“But you could be entitled to benefits under the workers’ compensation system if you get ill on the job, and the illness is as a result of the job,” said James Yoro, workers’ compensation attorney and partner at Chain | Cohn | Stiles.

Yoro recently spoke about this issue with radio deejay Sheri Ortiz on her show on The Groove 99.3. You can listen to the full interview by clicking here. Yoro and Chain | Cohn | Stiles associate attorney Beatriz Trejo also published an article recently in the Kern Business Journal focused on valley fever. To read that article, click here.

Specifically in the radio show, Yoro spoke about Valley Fever related to the workplace.

Under California law, Employers have responsibility to immediately report to Cal/OSHA any serious injury or illness, or death (including any due to Valley Fever) of an employee occurring in a place of employment or in connection with any employment, according to the California Department of Industrial Relations. Employers also have responsibilities to control workers’ exposure to hazardous materials.

Valley Fever is caused by a microscopic fungus known as coccidiodes immitis, which lives in the top two to 12 inches of soil in many parts of California. When soil is disturbed by activities such as digging, driving or high winds, fungal spores can become airborne and potentially be inhaled by workers.

In Kern County, around 500 cases of Valley Fever are reported in a typical year. Of those cases, about 5 people die from Valley Fever., according to Kern County Public Health Services Department. Kern County is also a leader and resource for treating and taking care of those infected with this disease.

When fungal spores are present, any work activity that disturbs the soil, such as digging, grading or other earth moving operations, or vehicle operation on dirt roads, can cause the spores to become airborne, and therefore increase the risk of Valley Fever. All workers on sites where the fungus is present, and who are exposed to dusty conditions and wind-blown dusts are at increased risk of becoming infected, according to Cal/OSHA. Some of those workers include: construction workers and other workers on construction sites, including road-building and excavation crews; archeologists; geologists; wildland firefighters; military personnel; workers in mining, quarrying, gas and oil extraction jobs; and agricultural workers.

Because there is no vaccine to prevent Valley Fever, important steps must be taken to limit risk, especially for employers. Some of those steps are as follows:

  • Determine if your worksite is in an endemic area.
  • Adopt site plans and work practices that reduce workers’ exposure, which may include minimizing the area of soil disturbed; using water, appropriate soil stabilizers, and/or re-vegetation to reduce airborne dust; stabilizing all spoils piles by tarping or other methods; providing air conditioned cabs for vehicles that generate heavy dust and make sure workers keep windows and vents closed; suspending work during heavy winds; placing any onsite sleeping quarters, if provided, away from sources of dust.
  • Employers must develop and implement a respiratory protection program in accordance with Cal/OSHA’s Respiratory Protection standard.
  • Take measures to reduce transporting spores offsite, such as cleaning tools, equipment, and vehicles before transporting offsite; providing coveralls and change rooms, and showers where possible if workers’ clothing is likely to be heavily contaminated with dust.
  • Train workers and supervisors about the risk of Valley Fever, the work activities that may increase the risk, and the measures used onsite to reduce exposure. Also train on how to recognize Valley Fever symptoms.
  • Encourage workers to report Valley Fever symptoms promptly to a supervisor.

“It’s important that people are aware that if they work in dusty outside conditions and they acquire Valley Fever, there’s a strong possibility that it could be work related,” Yoro told Sheri Ortiz.

It’s important to note that half of all people with Valley Fever show no symptoms, or show symptoms similar to a cold. Another 40 to 50 percent develop an illness severe enough to prompt the person to go to a healthcare provider, which includes flu-like symptoms. Those symptoms typically develop between 7 and 20 days after the spores enter your body. And another 1 to 5 percent of Valley Fever cases have the fungus leave the main site (lungs) and spread to other parts of the body.

If you suspect you’ve gotten Valley Fever, or another illness, due to your job, first see a doctor to make sure diagnosis is correct, Yoro said. And if you believe you’ve contracted an illness or disease related to your profession, it’s important to retain an attorney as soon as possible.

James Yoro has been serving Kern County as an attorney for nearly 40 years. He specializes in workers* compensation cases with the Bakersfield-based law firm Chain | Cohn | Stiles.

Call him at 661-323-4000 or visit the website chainlaw.com. Viisit Yoro’s specialized workers* compensation website 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.