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.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles celebrates Delano’s 40th ‘Philippine Weekend’

July 24, 2014 | 8:48 am


Each year, thousands congregate in Delano for a month’s worth of events designed to unite, celebrate and commemorate the Kern County city’s large Filipino population.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles is proud to help the city celebrate its 40th Philippine Weekend, continuing this weekend.

Events and celebrations during the commemoration include a basketball tournament, a pub crawl, a parade, the Mr. and Mrs. Philippine Weekend Pageant, a dance contest, a variety of cultural and live musical performances, and the popular pork adobo cook-off.

“Philippine weekend began in 1975 as a way to unite American-born, Filipino-born and Mestizos — half Mexican, half Filipinos — and bring them all together, while showing the cultural history and the heritage of the Philippines,” co-organizer Jay Tamsi told The Bakersfield Californian.

On Thursday, attorneys for the Bakersfield personal injury and workers’ compensation* law firm will attend the 40th Philippine Weekend Street Fair, organized by Delano Chamber of Commerce. They include workers’ compensation* lawyer and Chain | Cohn | Stiles partner James Yoro, who is Filipino, and Chain | Cohn | Stiles associate Neil Gehlawat, the son of a longtime and well-known Delano pediatrician, Dr. Dilbagh Gehlawat of Delano Pediatrics Group.

Earlier this year, Chain | Cohn | Stiles took park in the Delano Chamber of Commerce‘s “Cinco de Mayo Fiesta and Street Faire.” The street fairs give Chain | Cohn | Stiles a chance to answer local resident’s legal questions, share tips and information, and give out Chain | Cohn | Stiles goodies to the families in Delano.

This Thursday’s fair will be held from 5 to 9 p.m. on Main Street, between Cecil and 13th avenues. The fairs feature vendor and informational booths from Kern County service providers.

Attorney James Yoro will also be taking part in the adobo contest, judging who in Delano makes the best “unofficial national dish of the Philippines,” according to Tamsi.

“Not only do local families and restaurants compete, we now have people coming from throughout the state to participate in our cook-off, which is something that is very unique to our festival,” Tamsi told The Californian.

Besides the street fairs and during Philippine Weekend, you can also find Chain | Cohn | Stiles’ presence at several Delano restaurants and business — including Sylvia’s Clerical Solutions and Lupe’s Restaurant – where you’ll find our business cards.

UPDATE: Chain | Cohn | Stiles had a great time taking part in the Philippine Weekend festivities. Go HERE to see pictures from events.

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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.

Wondering if you’re eligible for Social Security Disability benefits? Find out here

April 21, 2014 | 2:07 pm


Have you stopped working because of a physical or mental health problem? Has the problem lasted for a year or more, or will it?

If you said “yes” to either question, Social Security Disability may be able to pay you and give you medical insurance.

So what is Social Security Disability? It’s a federal government program that provides assistance to people with disabilities. The process to apply can be long and confusing. Chain | Cohn | Stiles has developed a “fast facts” sheet to figure out if you may be eligible for Social Security Disability benefits. Slide through the pictures in this blog to read them and learn more.

The Bakersfield Social Security lawyers at CCS have also compiled a list of frequently asked questions and answers related to Social Security Disability.

Q: Why should I apply for benefits? 

A: Entitlement to Social Security Disability allows you to receive monthly disability benefit checks for you and, in some cases, your family. In most cases, you will also receive a large lump sum payment for back benefits owed to you. 

You can become eligible for Medicare after two years of entitlement to disability benefits.

Even if you are getting Workers’ Compensation and/or long-term disability (LTD) benefits, your total present income may increase and you may be entitled to hundreds or thousands of dollars in back benefits.

Even though many group LTD policies offset other disability benefits, most policies do not offset Social Security’s annual cost of living increases. In addition, some policies only offset your individual benefits and not your family’s, and many policies have a minimum benefit payment that is not offset.

Your Social Security payments may be tax free depending on your other income, whereas LTD benefits are often taxable.

Q: Who is eligible for Social Security Benefits?

A: If you have worked long enough at a job where you pay Social Security taxes and have become disabled, you are probably eligible for disability benefits.

Even if you’ve never worked or haven’t earned very much money at your jobs, you may be eligible to get Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments, that are for low-income people with disabilities.

Q: What does “Disabled” mean?

A “Disability” can be physical, emotional, mental, or a combination. The condition has to be serious enough to keep you from working and earning enough money for at least one year.

Q: I can’t do the job I used to do – am I disabled?

A: The test isn’t whether you can go back to a job you’ve lost. The test is whether you are physically and emotionally capable of doing a job that is generally available in the everyday work place.

Q: I am too old and no one will hire me – can I get disability?

A: Not necessarily.  The test isn’t whether you’ve been able to find a job recently or the chance that someone would hire you. There are some special rules called the Medical-vocational Guidelines that can help older people qualify for disability more easily. A knowledgeable attorney can help you make sense of those rules.

Q: I have a disabling condition but I’m not seeing a doctor – can I get disability?

A: You must have a doctor say that you are disabled “by medically acceptable clinical and laboratory findings.” Unfortunately, many genuinely disabled people can’t get benefits because they aren’t getting the right kind of medical treatment.

Q: I have a disabling condition and my doctor says I should be getting disability – why did I get denied benefits?

A: Unfortunately, many genuinely disabling conditions are difficult to diagnose or prove. In cases like that, it is up to your legal representative to present your doctor’s reports properly, and to convince the government that you deserve your benefits.

 

For several more Frequently Asked Questions and answers, go HERE, or visit our specialized web site dedicated to Social Security Disability.

And if you have any questions related to Social Security Disability, please call CCS. The attorneys at CCS — including Erica Scott and James Yoro — offer a free in-person consultation to discuss eligibility and there is no charge to speak to us on the phone.