How personal injury and workers’ compensation systems work together

March 25, 2020 | 6:00 am


Note: Veteran workers’ compensation attorney James Yoro recently spoke at the Kern County Paralegal Association luncheon about the relationship between workers’ compensation law and personal injury law. Chain | Cohn | Stiles law firm focuses on only personal injury and workers’ compensation cases. Below is a portion of Yoro’s presentation.

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If you have been injured due to the fault of both your employer as well as a third party, then you may be entitled to further compensation from the third party. Since Chain | Cohn | Stiles practices law in both areas, the lawyers and staff are uniquely situated to handle both aspects of these cases.

To explain a little further:

  • A personal injury claim is a civil lawsuit that is pursued and processed through superior, appellate and supreme courts, and is a part of the civil justice system, which allows a person to sue another person or party for damages as a result of negligent conduct that caused certain damages to that person. The outcome and any potential recovery is determined at the end of the case by way of dispute resolution (settlement, mediation, or arbitration) or through litigation (trial). Damages can include:
    • Cost of medical treatment provided and potential future medical needs.
    • Loss of earnings and future earning capacity.
    • Potential loss of consortium.
    • Non-economic damages (typically referred as pain and suffering). Recovery is a fluid process up until a jury verdict is returned and upheld on appeal.
  • A workers’ compensation claim is an administrative claim that is pursued through an administrative process governed by the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board, and if legal disputes arise, the appellate and supreme courts. It is categorized as an administrative process because the workers’ compensation system was created by statute and designed to be a benefit delivery system. If disputes arise, they are adjudicated by a Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board, and the system can become adversarial. A case can be resolved at any point in the process or it can remain unresolved for many years. A case can be resolved and yet remain open for the provision of certain benefits for the person’s lifetime. If there are no disputed issues as to the legitimacy of a claim, benefits as defined by statute are to be provided without delay. A workers’ compensation formula is applied for employer negligence calculation as applied to total damages, not including recovery. The benefits include:
    • Medical treatment and associated benefits.
    • Monetary benefits.
    • Vocational rehabilitation (that are set and defined by statute)
    • Temporary total disability.
    • Permanent disability.

One rule to note: A workers compensation insurance carrier that has provided benefits to an injured worker who has a personal injury case is not entitled to a recovery of their lien or application of the credit to the extent of their percentage of fault if the employers conduct contributed to the cause of the injury.

To illustrate a couple of examples of how personal injury and workers’ compensation cases work together, here are a few hypothetical scenarios.

 

SCENARIO 1

Ann is a UPS delivery driver, and one day while driving down a Main Street on the way to deliver a package, she is broadsided by a Chevron tanker truck that has gone through a stop sign. Ann suffers serious personal injuries and requires medical treatment including hospitalization, surgery and time off from work to recover.

Ann files a workers’ compensation claim with her employer who is insured for worker’s compensation by Cal. Comp. Ann hires an attorney to pursue a personal injury against Chevron. Cal. Comp. hires an attorney to pursue its subrogation interests and files a complaint in intervention in Ann’s personal injury lawsuit.

At the mandatory settlement conference in the personal injury case, Chevron settles with all parties for $1 million. As of the date of the settlement conference, Cal. Comp. has paid out $150,000 in both medical and monetary benefits to Ann. Because of her level of permanent disability percentage, Cal. Comp. still owes an additional $60,000 and may have to provide her with another surgery that could cost $40,000 in her unresolved workers’ comp. case. Ann nets $550,000 from her personal injury case.

A few questions arise:

  • Who got what and why?
  • Is Ann entitled to get the additional $60,000 that Cal. Comp. owes her and get them to pay for her surgery? Why or why not?
  • What if Cal. Comp. did not hire an attorney and did not file a complaint in intervention and only served a lien on Ann’s personal injury attorney? Then what would Cal. Comp. get? What would Ann get?

 

SCENARIO 2

Ann is a UPS delivery driver. One day while driving down a Main Street on the way to deliver a package, she is broadsided by a converted taco truck that has blown a stop sign. Ann suffers serious personal injuries and requires medical treatment including hospitalization, surgery and time off from work in order to recover.

The owner of the Taco truck is Don Quixote who has a $100,000 auto policy with GEICO. Ann files a workers’ compensation claim with her employer who is insured for workers’ compensation by Cal. Comp. Ann hires an attorney to pursue a personal injury claim against Don Quixote. Cal. Comp. does not hire a subrogation attorney and only sends Ann’s attorney a lien.

Upon presentation of the current medicals on GEICO by Ann’s personal injury attorney, GEICO decides to tender their policy. At the time of the tender, Cal. Comp. has paid out $100,000 in medical and temporary total disability. Its future obligation to Ann is estimated to be another $200,000 with $60,000 to $70,000 estimated for her permanent disability benefit. Cal. Comp. notifies Ann’s personal injury attorney that it wants payment of its lien.

  • What strategies can be employed for Ann’s benefit?

 

SCENARIO 3

Ann is a UPS delivery driver. One day while driving down a Main Street on the way to deliver a package, she is broadsided by a Chevron tanker truck that has blown a stop sign. When the CHP officer interviews Ann, she tells him that as she approached the intersection she saw the Chevron truck out of the corner of her eye, and thought that the truck was going too fast to stop, so she started to apply her brakes but she couldn’t stop in time. Upon inspection, the CHP officer notes that the UPS truck’s brakes are badly worn. Ann suffers serious personal injuries and requires medical treatment including hospitalization, surgery and time off from work in order to recover.

Ann files a workers’ compensation claim with her employer who is insured for workers’ compensation by Cal. Comp. Ann hires an attorney to pursue a personal injury claim against Chevron. Chevron’s attorney obtains the UPS trucks maintenance records and discovers that UPS failed to bring this
particular truck in for its last routine maintenance inspection which was scheduled two months before the accident. Chevron hires an accident reconstruction expert who says that Ann would have had enough time to avoid the accident had the brakes been working properly. Ann’s attorney hires an accident reconstruction expert, who says that it is too speculative to say that Ann would have had enough time to avoid the accident.

As of the date of the mandatory settlement conference for the personal injury case, Cal. Comp has paid out $150,000 in both medical and monetary benefits to Ann. Because of her level of permanent disability percentage, Cal. Comp still owes an additional $60,000 and may have to provide her with another surgery that could cost $40,000 in her unresolved workers’ compensation case. The full damage value of the case is about $1 million. The case settles for $850,000, and Ann nets $540,000.

  • What if anything is Cal. Comp. entitled to recover?
  • Would it make a difference if Cal. Comp. had an attorney?
  • What strategies can Ann’s attorneys use to get the best result for Ann?

 

SCENARIO 4

Ann is a UPS delivery driver. One day while driving down a main street on the way to deliver a package, she is broadsided by a converted Taco truck that has blown a stop sign. Ann suffers serious personal injuries and requires medical treatment including hospitalization, surgery and time off from work in order to recover.

The owner of the Taco truck is Don Quixote who has a $100,000 auto policy with GEICO. Ann files a workers’ compensation claim with her employer who is insured for workers’ compensation by Cal. Comp. Ann hires an attorney to pursue a personal injury claim against Don Quixote. Cal. Comp. does not hire a subrogation attorney and only sends Ann’s attorney a lien.

Upon presentation of the current medicals on GEICO by Ann’s personal injury attorney, GEICO decides to tender their policy. At the time of the tender, Cal. Comp. has paid out $100,000 in Medical and temporary total disability. Its future obligation to Ann is estimated to be another $200,000, with $60,000 to $70,000 estimated for her permanent disability benefit.

Ann’s personal injury attorney discovers that UPS has an Uninsured / Underinsured policy on all of its trucks for $1 million. Cal. Comp. notifies Ann’s personal injury attorney that it wants payment of its lien and credit for any and all recovery that Ann obtains.

  • Is Cal. Comp. entitled to recover its lien and get credit?
  • For how much?
  • What strategies can be employed for Ann’s benefit?

 

While these are hypothetical situations in which personal injury and workers’ compensation law intersect, similar cases are very real. And each case presents its own questions and challenges, ones which the workers’ compensation and personal injury lawyers at Chain | Cohn | Stiles has confronted time and time again.

If you or someone you know is injured in an accident at the fault of someone else, or injured on the job no matter whose fault it is, contact the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles by calling (661) 323-4000, or fill out a free consultation form at 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.

‘Judicial emergency’ results in lack of justice for Kern County residents

February 26, 2020 | 10:28 am


The Central Valley’s federal district court has instituted a “judicial emergency” order due to a shortage of judges, and thousands of Kern County residents — including clients of Chain | Cohn | Stiles — are being left with a feeling of injustice.

Federal Judge Dale A. Drozd of the U.S. Eastern District Court of California, the federal judicial district that includes Bakersfield and the southern Central Valley area, stated that the judicial emergency order “will seriously hinder the administration of justice” in the district.

“These are uncharted waters for this court,” Drozd wrote in his order. “The emergency procedures … are being implemented reluctantly.”

The district, which serves 8 million Californians is supposed to have six full-time judges — three in Fresno and three in Sacramento, said Matt Clark, senior partner and personal injury lawyer with Chain | Cohn | Stiles. But in the past two months, three judges in Fresno have assumed reduced work status or inactive status. Drozd will now be presiding over some 1,050 civil actions and 625 criminal cases.

“We have one judge” in Fresno, Clark told The Bakersfield Californian. “We are the single most impacted district in the country.”

For media coverage, see the links below.

The emergency is already affecting hundreds of local cases and local families, possibly thousands. They include:

Joan Johnson has penned letters to local elected officials, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Lindsey Graham, chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary, addressing the judicial emergency. Federal judges are nominated by presidents and confirmed by the U.S. Senate. No judges in the Eastern District have been appointed by President Trump, though Republicans have been the majority party in the Senate since January 2015.

Considering the history of the Eastern District, the shortfall in resources has been foreseen for years. For more than a decade the Judicial Conference of the United States has recommended that the district be authorized for up to six additional judgeships, doubling its current allocation. However, those recommendations have not been acted upon. Considering the history of the Eastern District, the shortfall in resources has been foreseen for years. For more than a decade the Judicial Conference of the United States has recommended that the district be authorized for up to six additional judgeships, doubling its current allocation. However, those recommendations have not been acted upon.

This is the case despite the fact that since the last new district judgeship was created in the Eastern District in 1978, the population of the district has grown from 2.5 million residents to more than 8 million. By contrast, the Northern District of California, which has a similar population, operates with 14 authorized district judges, Drozd said in his order.

“There are over 1,000 civil cases now on hold,” Clark said. “That’s a thousand more families going through the same thing.”

Below is a portion of a letter sent to elected officials by Joan Johnson:

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My name is Joan M. Johnson.  I am married to William “Lee” Johnson, and together we are the owners of a family trucking business that has been in existence since 1968.

In December 2018, my husband Lee was nearly killed in an explosion at a compressed natural gas fueling station.  He sustained various life-threatening injuries, including a severe traumatic brain injury.  The explosion was so powerful, it leveled the fueling station.  Although Lee ultimately survived, after months of hospitalization and rehabilitation, his injuries have taken their toll.  He still suffers daily, as does our business.

In an effort to recover for our losses, we retained an attorney.  Our attorney filed a lawsuit in Federal Court, in the Eastern District of California, in early 2019.  At the time of the initial scheduling conference, trial was set for May 4, 2021.  Although this was a long way out in the future, it was acceptable, and we had a “light at the end of the tunnel.”

Recently, our attorney has informed us of the judicial emergency in the Eastern District, as a result of Congress’ inability to appoint any new judges in our district.  I have attached to this letter a copy of the Order in Light of Ongoing Judicial Emergency.  In a nutshell, there is only one judge remaining in the Eastern District, and for the foreseeable future, civil cases, like ours, will be delayed indefinitely.  Our light at the end of the tunnel, it has been extinguished.  The hope for civil justice for my husband’s life-changing injuries, and our business losses, has been delayed indefinitely.

As I understand it, our case could proceed efficiently, if everyone was in agreement with having a federal magistrate oversee the trial.  We would stipulate to a magistrate, however the defendants in our case will not.  I imagine this is true in most civil cases in our district, because why would a defendant stipulate to a magistrate, and resolve the matter more quickly, when they can simply use this judicial emergency as a reason to delay, delay, delay.

We are not a family to ask much of our government.  In fact, we are quite the opposite.  We serve our Country.  My husband’s father, he was veteran.  My husband Lee, he is a veteran.  My son, he is a veteran too (with three Purple Hearts to show for it).  We believe in giving back, and supporting the Country we love, and the government that keeps it running.  We now respectfully ask that our government help us, and that priority be given to the appointment of judges in the Eastern District of California.

Anything you can do to help alleviate the judicial emergency in the Eastern District would be greatly appreciated.  I never understood the true meaning of “justice delayed, is justice denied,” until now.  Our livelihood, and my husband’s well-being depends on an operating civil justice system.  As the Court said in its Standing Order, this judicial emergency is not “conducive to the fair administration of justice.”  I am certain that there are many families dependent on the fair administration of justice in the Eastern District.

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If you or someone you know is injured in an accident at the fault of someone else, or injured on the job no matter whose fault it is, contact the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles by calling (661) 323-4000, or fill out a free consultation form at chainlaw.com.

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MEDIA COVERAGE

Chain | Cohn | Stiles launches unique scholarship to support a new generation of young drivers in Kern County

January 22, 2020 | 6:00 am


The application period for the scholarship has ended. Please tune in to chainlaw.com in January 2021 for more scholarship opportunities.

El período para aplicar para la beca ha terminado. Visite abogadosenbakersfield.com en Enero 2021 para más oportunidades de becas.

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Chain | Cohn | Stiles launches unique scholarship to support a new generation of young drivers in Kern County

One-of-a-kind “GPS scholarship” aims to curb the financial burden of driver’s education, with a focus on safety

BAKERSFIELD, CALIF. – The Law Office of Chain | Cohn | Stiles, which focuses on helping accident and injury victims in the Central Valley, has launched a new scholarship called the “Guided Partners in Safety (GPS) Scholarship,” which is aimed to financially support local high school students through their driver’s education training while keeping safety at the forefront.

Auto accidents are the No. 1 killer of American teenagers, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Association. In fact, six teenagers aged 16 to 19 die every day in the United States from motor vehicle crash injuries. Distracted driving, excessive speed, and lack of seatbelt use are major dangers and causes of teen driver crashes.

In addition, budget cuts have caused schools to eliminate driver’s education programs, leading students to seek third-party instruction. As a result, teens from lower-income households may not be able to fully enjoy this rite of passage. In fact, the number of teen drivers nationally is on the decline, with the cost associated to driving as one key factor, according to AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. Today, nearly half as many 16-year-olds are getting a driver’s license than 30 years ago, according to a study by the University of Michigan.

The GPS Scholarship aims to support a new generation of teen drivers, build guided partners in safety, and help pay for student driver’s education.

“The safety of our youth is a top concern,” said David Cohn, managing partner at Chain | Cohn | Stiles. “Our goal is to help those in need, and at the same time reinforce the importance of talking to teen drivers about the responsibilities, rules, and consequences that come with getting behind the steering wheel.”

Among the qualifications, applicants must:

  • Have at least a 2.5 GPA
  • Be enrolled in a Kern County high school
  • Write a 200-word (max) creative essay answering: “Why do you want to drive?”
  • Apply by clicking here. Questions can be emailed to gpsscholarship2020@gmail.com.

The deadline to apply is March 31. Other state qualifications for driving apply. Scholarship recipients must attend and observe a Victim Impact Panel hosted by Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Kern County.

You can view the GPS Scholarship flier by clicking here.

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Chain | Cohn | Stiles lanza una beca única para apoyar a una nueva generación de conductores jóvenes en el condado de Kern

“Beca GPS” tiene como objetivo frenar la carga financiera de la educación del conductor, con un enfoque en la seguridad

El despacho de abogados Chain | Cohn | Stiles, que se enfoca en ayudar a las víctimas de accidentes y lesiones en el Valle Central, ha lanzado una nueva beca llamada “Beca de Socios Guiados en Seguridad,” que tiene como objetivo apoyar financieramente a los estudiantes locales de secundaria a través de la capacitación educativa para conductores mientras se mantiene seguridad a la vanguardia.

Los accidentes automovilísticos son el asesino número uno de los adolescentes estadounidenses, según la Asociación Nacional de Seguridad del Tráfico en Carreteras. De hecho, seis adolescentes de 16 a 19 años mueren todos los días en los Estados Unidos a causa de accidentes automovilísticos. La conducción distraída, la velocidad excesiva y la falta de uso del cinturón de seguridad son los principales peligros y causas de los choques de los conductores adolescentes.

Además, recortes de presupuesto han provocado que las escuelas eliminen los programas de clases de manejo, lo que lleva a los estudiantes a buscar instrucción de terceros. Como resultado, es posible que los adolescentes de hogares de bajos ingresos no puedan disfrutar plenamente de este rito de iniciación. De hecho, el número de conductores adolescentes a nivel nacional está disminuyendo, con el costo asociado a la conducción como un factor clave, según la Fundación AAA para la Seguridad del Tráfico. Hoy, casi la mitad de los jóvenes de 16 años obtienen una licencia de conducir que los de hace 30 años, según un estudio de la Universidad de Michigan.

La beca GPS tiene como objetivo apoyar a una nueva generación de conductores adolescentes, crear socios guiados en seguridad y ayudar a pagar la educación de los estudiantes.

“La seguridad de nuestra juventud es una preocupación principal”, dijo David Cohn, socio gerente de Chain | Cohn | Stiles. “Nuestro objetivo es ayudar a los necesitados y, al mismo tiempo, reforzar la importancia de hablar con los conductores adolescentes sobre las responsabilidades, las reglas y las consecuencias que conlleva ponerse al volante”.

Entre las calificaciones, los solicitantes deben:

  • Tener un promedio de calificaciones de 2.5
  • Estar inscrito en una escuela secundaria del condado de Kern
  • Escribir un ensayo creativo de 200 palabras (máximo) respondiendo: “¿Por qué quieres conducir?”
  • Aplica aquí. Preguntas se pueden mandar a gpsscholarship2020@gmail.com.

La fecha límite para presentar la solicitud es el 31 de marzo. Se aplican otras calificaciones estatales para conducir. Los beneficiarios de la beca deben observar un Panel de Impacto de Víctimas organizado por Madres Contra Conducir Ebrio, Conado de Kern.

Puede ver el folleto de la beca GPS haciendo clic aquí.

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If you or someone you know is injured in an accident at the fault of someone else, or injured on the job no matter whose fault it is, contact the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles by calling (661) 323-4000, or fill out a free consultation form at chainlaw.com.

Si usted o alguien que conoce se lastima en un accidente, llame a los abogados de Chain | Cohn | Stiles al (661) 323-4000, o visita la página chainlaw.com.

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MEDIA COVERAGE

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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.⁣

* Aviso: Hacer un reclamo falso o fraudulento de compensación para trabajadores es un crimen grave sujeto a un máximo de 5 años de prisión o una multa de hasta $150,000 o el doble del valor del fraude, el que sea mayor, o tanto por el encarcelamiento y multa.

‘Bored in Bakersfield’ show, Chain | Cohn | Stiles visit famous Wool Growers Restaurant

January 15, 2020 | 11:01 am


It’s a place where Chain | Cohn | Stiles founder Morris Chain and other attorneys at the law firm dined often. Today, Wool Growers Restaurant continues to be a Basque staple in Bakersfield.

In fact, photos of Chain and other veterans of the firm still hang on the restaurant walls, and a sandwich on the menu is named after Morris Chain. So it was only natural for Chain | Cohn | Stiles to join the Bored in Bakersfield show as they highlighted the food and history of this famous restaurant.

Watch the Bored in Bakersfield show below as longtime law firm partners and attorneys David Cohn and Jim Yoro join former Miss Bakersfield Arlene Carrillo and local radio DJ Danny Hill in a visit to Wool Growers.

To learn more about the history of Wool Growers, read below the video, and for more about Chain | Cohn | Stiles’ history and 85-year anniversary last year, go to bit.ly/chainlaw85.

HISTORY OF WOOL GROWERS

Wool Growers is a family restaurant, and as the establishment’s website explains: “Mayie met J.B. Maitia, a bartender, and married him in 1947. They had two children, Jenny and Daniel. In 1954, when Mayie was only 25 years old she and J.B. opened their own restaurant, the Wool Growers Cafe on Sumner Street. Mayie, along with her daughter, Jenny and granddaughter Christiane, is still running the restaurant today.”

The restaurant itself sits in the heart of Old Town Kern, on East 19th Street between Kern and Baker streets. It offers traditional Basque family-style dining, and is an authentic example of how hard-working shepherds dined. The Spanish shepherd community — originally from Pyrenees region of Spain — sprang up in Kern County in the late 1800s and found they could support stable industries such as grain and sheep farming, according to KCET, PBS. Today, Bakersfield has the second-largest expat Basque community in the U.S., second to Boise, Idaho.

Over the years, the family has helped those who immigrated to Bakersfield from Basque country by employing them at the restaurant, and contributes to our local community in many ways.

“The walls of local restaurants are lined with memorabilia documenting this history, and proprietors often share colorful stories as they mix up a fresh batch of drinks or deliver a bowl of piping hot cabbage soup,” according to KCET.

Wool Growers serves ample portions, beginning with an initial spread that is dubbed the “set-up,” which includes a cabbage-based soup, hearty baked beans, and a spicy tomato sauce. Fresh-baked bread, green salad, and fresh tomato salad with red onion and balsamic vinegar is also provided. Daily specials include roast lamb, roast tri-tip with spaghetti, garlic fried chicken, and roast pork loin with mashed potatoes. Fans rave about the perfectly-cooked French fries.

As for the Morris B. Chain Sandwich, it is served with tri-tip or lamb, and loaded with garlic.

“Morris had a reputation for being one of the great connoisseur of really good food,” Cohn said on the Bored in Bakersfield episode. “He loved to come to the Wool Growers and he could never get enough garlic … If you like garlic, you’ll be in garlic heaven.”

Today, it’s a place where all of Bakersfield can sit and dine together

“You really can’t beat the ambiance this establishment provides,” said attorney Jim Yoro. “Where else can you go in Bakersfield and see in one table half the judges from the superior court, and in another table half the farmers in the southern San Joaquin Valley, and in another table a bunch of oilfield executives? And we all eat together.”

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If you or someone you know is injured in an accident at the fault of someone else, or injured on the job no matter whose fault it is, contact the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles by calling (661) 323-4000, or fill out a free consultation form at chainlaw.com.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles names two new law firm partners

January 8, 2020 | 9:32 am


For Chain | Cohn | Stiles, the New Year brought about an end, and a beginning.

It was the end of the law firm’s 85-year anniversary (Morris Chain founded the firm in 1934), which was commemorated with videos, giveaways, and history-focused media in local publications. Catch up on all the anniversary recognitions at bit.ly/chainlaw85.

But 2020 also brought with it new beginnings, as the law firm announced the newest law firm partners at Chain | Cohn | Stiles: Chad Boyles and Beatriz Trejo. They join senior partners David Cohn, Jim Yoro, and Matt Clark.

Learn more about Beatriz and Chad below:

 

Beatriz A. Trejo is an associate with Chain | Cohn | Stiles, where she focuses on workers’ compensation cases. She is a Certified Legal Specialist in Workers’ Compensation, the recipient of the “Workers’ Compensation Young Lawyer of the Year” award in California, and has been named to the Super Lawyers “Rising Stars” list by Southern California Super Lawyers Magazine.

Beatriz attended Highland High School in Bakersfield before earning her bachelor’s degree in political science from Cal State Bakersfield and her master’s degree in political science from Cal State Northridge. She earned her law degree from the University of Akron School of Law in Ohio.

She has practiced in front of the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board since 2012. She began her practice as a defense attorney, representing, self-insured employers, insurance companies, private employers, municipalities, school districts, and governmental entities in all aspects of workers’ compensation defense. In 2015, began representing injured workers through her work at Chain | Cohn | Stiles.

Beatriz was selected by the State Bar of California as the 2017 “Workers’ Compensation Young Lawyer of the Year.” She is past president of the California Applicants’ Attorneys Association (CAAA), Bakersfield Chapter, and has been named as one of the 20 Under 40 People to Watch by Bakersfield Life Magazine. She is a Certified Legal Specialist in Workers’ Compensation by The State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization.

She was also recently recognized by her peers in the “Top Attorneys” poll voted on by local lawyers, highlighting the best lawyers in their practice areas. Recently, Beatriz was named to the Super Lawyers “Rising Stars” list by Southern California Super Lawyers Magazine. This high honor is awarded to just 2.5% of lawyers under the age of 40 in the Southern California region.

She is an active member of CAAA’s Latino Caucus, and serves on the panels of the Immigration Justice Collaborative, which aims to educate immigrants on their constitutional rights. She is a frequent speaker for Kern County Small Business Academies, educating new business owners on work injury laws, and serves on the CSU Bakersfield Pre-Law Advisory Committee, helping aspiring lawyers.

Outside of the office, she supports her community through local organization including Latina Leaders of Kern County, Kern County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and Comprehensive Blood and Cancer Center Foundation for Community Wellness.

Beatriz is fluent in Spanish, and appears on local Spanish radio stations, assisting local residents with their legal questions.

 

Chad J. A. Boyles is an associate with the firm, focusing on personal injury and wrongful death cases.

Chad was born and raised in Bakersfield, and graduated from Highland High School. He earned his bachelor’s degree with honors in political science from Cal State Bakersfield where he was also a part of Pi Sigma Alpha, a national political science honor society. He then attended Whittier Law School where he served as Managing Editor of the Law Review. His note, entitled “Money Can’t Buy You Love … and It Shouldn’t Buy You A Seat In Congress Either,” was published in the Whittier Law Review. He graduated cum laude from Whittier in 2010.

After law school, Chad worked briefly in Pasadena before returning to Bakersfield and joining another local firm. For 2 years, he litigated state cases covering a wide variety of legal issues, including personal injury and civil rights. Chad has also provided advice and counseling to clients facing legal issues on a volunteer basis at Greater Bakersfield Legal Assistance, Inc.

Outside of the office, Chad is involved in several goodwill efforts throughout the community, including taking underprivileged students back-to-school shopping and mentoring pre-law students. He is also a member of the Board of Directors for the CSU Bakersfield Alumni Association. He is a graduate of Leadership Bakersfield, class of 2019.

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If you or someone you know is injured in an accident at the fault of someone else, or injured on the job no matter whose fault it is, contact the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles by calling (661) 323-4000, or fill out a free consultation form at chainlaw.com.

How a legendary local lawyer helped a young man in need, who then paid him back 60 years later

December 11, 2019 | 11:00 am


Over its 85-year history, Chain | Cohn | Stiles has seen and heard countless inspirational stories from the people of Kern County, who visit the law office for assistance during what is typically their time of greatest need.

The story of Kenneth Cannon is no different. Back in 2015, 87-year-old Cannon visited the law office and shared his story of how Morris Chain helped him 60 years before:

At that time, Cannon, of Wasco, was in his prime. But he ended up in a fight with a neighbor that landed him in court facing a lawsuit.

“I punched him,” Cannon said. “It was the wrong thing to do, but that’s what happened.”

His neighbor had broken a bone and was suing him for $10,000. So, he went to the legendary local lawyer Morris Chain to defend him. Chain heard him out and told Cannon he would have done the same thing to his neighbor.

In 1955, Morris Chain had been practicing law in Bakersfield for more than 20 years already, and he had formed a formidable team around him including secretary Helen Banducci, and lawyers Albert Noriega and Milton Younger. Investigator Leonard Winters also worked directly with Chain for more than three decades. In fact, by the 1960s, Chain had achieved a state-wide reputation for being flamboyant in the courtroom while being dramatic, witty, entertaining and exciting to watch. But his performance always was firmly anchored to the logic of the law. He would be called “the Rembrandt of the courtroom,” and even served as a lawyer in the infamous Spade Cooley murder trial.

Back to Cannon, Chain had ultimately managed to get his fine reduced from $10,000 to $1,500, still a hefty fine back in those days. Morris’ fee was $100, but Cannon was working in the potato fields and so he promised to pay Chain over time. Chain told him: “Once you get on your feet, you pay me.”

Fast forward 60 years, Kenneth — an Air Force veteran who served in the Korean War — noticed in the newspaper that the law firm moved offices from the Bank of America building to Chester Avenue and 18th. He walked into the lobby with a new $100 bill he took out from the bank stuffed inside of a small yellow envelope, and asked for David Cohn, managing partner and attorney at Chain | Cohn | Stiles.

“I know Morris died in the 1970s, but since you still have Chain’s name at your firm, I felt I should give the money to you.” Cannon told Cohn. “It’s been on my mind this whole time. I had quite a guilty conscience about it all. I was obligated to pay back my debt. I should have done it long ago.”

Cohn accepted the $100 bill on behalf of Chain. He later sent Cannon a photo of Morris Chain and a $100 check as a token of appreciation for sharing his story. Cannon later wrote back that he had framed the check and hung it inside of his home.

Local columnist Richard Beene made a mention of this tale in his blog, and called it “a sweet story of honesty, forgiveness and faith that will send you into the weekend with a smile.”

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If you or someone you know is injured in an accident at the fault of someone else, or injured on the job no matter whose fault it is, contact the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles by calling (661) 323-4000, or fill out a free consultation form at chainlaw.com.

‘Bored in Bakersfield’ show highlights Chain | Cohn | Stiles historic ‘haunted’ building

November 13, 2019 | 9:37 am


Downtown Bakersfield is full of history, and the Chain | Cohn | Stiles building in the heart of downtown is no exception.

In fact, since 1870, the southwest corner of 18th Street and Chester Avenue in downtown Bakersfield — where the law firm calls home now — has been home to various local businesses including mostly banks, and also a Goodwill.

Countless stories can be told about the happenings inside of the building’s walls, which is the reason the popular “Bored in Bakersfield” show decided to pay a visit and highlight the building’s history, and rumored paranormal activity.  The program showcases places, businesses, events, and people in Kern County, and is used as a tool for those looking for fun things to do in Bakersfield.

You can watch the show at the link below, and you can learn even more about the Chain | Cohn | Stiles building history by reading on.

 

BUILDING HISTORY

The southwest corner of 18th Street and Chester Avenue was the site of the first Kern Valley Bank until it closed in 1911, and would remain home to several other banks in the century that followed including National Bank, Crocker-Anglo Bank, and most currently Wells Fargo and Washington Mutual. Goodwill Industries took over the 30,000 square-foot building in the 2000s until 2011, and remained empty until Chain | Cohn | Stiles moved in 2014.

Chain Cohn Stiles, itself a longtime Bakersfield-based personal injury law firm, celebrating 85 years this year in downtown Bakersfield, occupies the ground floor and uses the basement for storage, while the second floor is leased out to the Kern County College of Law.

Here are some other interesting facts about the historic building:

  • 30,000 square feet occupied most recently by Goodwill Industries of South Central California.
  • Sixth-month, seven-figure renovation. Features include motion sensor LED lighting throughout, and high-tech energy efficient HVAC system with more than 20 thermostats.
  • Chain | Cohn | Stiles takes up the entire first floor: 10,000 square feet, 18 offices, four conference rooms and several open work stations.
  • Second floor is available for lease. Basement is used for law firm storage and files, and game room.
  • This building has views of most of the previous law firm homes since 1934: Haberfelde (1934-1938), Sill Building (1938-1970) and most recently Bank of America (1990-2015).
  • 5 new windows were cut from the 17-inch concrete on the north-facing wall. Each slab of concrete weighed 20,000 pounds.
  • Kern Valley Bank held a grand opening in this location on July 6, 1889. The next day, the great Bakersfield fire destroyed the building. It was rebuilt immediately after.
  • Anglo-California Bank opened at this location on Aug. 11, 1938, designed by Bakersfield architect Charles H. Biggar. Perhaps the only remaining featured from this building is the demarcation on the roof.
  • The building was remodeled on Aug. 4, 1954 by Anglo California National Bank, bringing much of the exterior to what is it today. Other bank tenants over the years include Crocker National Bank, Wells Fargo and Washington Mutual.
  • Still remaining in this building are three bank vaults: one on the first floor’s south end, and two in the basement, reportedly used as bomb shelters.
  • Our inside and outside sign lights can be changed colors to honor various holidays and observations.
  • The 18th Street entrance features an elevator lined with white marble and a staircase of beautiful green terrazzo flooring, probably a holdover from the 1954 remodel.
  • The arched roof from the original 1930s Anglo-California National Bank is still present.
  • In the basement is an incinerator from the Kerner Incinerator Co. of San Francisco, dated 1914, that still holds old bank transactions.

 

MEDIA COVERAGE

Chain | Cohn | Stiles ranked in 2020 U.S. News & World Report’s ‘Best Law Firms’

November 6, 2019 | 10:12 am


The Bakersfield-based personal injury and workers’ compensation law firm Chain | Cohn | Stiles has been selected for inclusion in the 2020 “Best Law Firms” list by U.S. News & World Report.

Law firms included in “Best Law Firms” list are recognized for “professional excellence with persistently impressive ratings from clients and peers,” according to U.S. News & World Report. Achieving a ranking “signals a unique combination of quality law practice and breadth of legal expertise.”

A law firm must have at least one attorney who has received high enough peer reviews to be recognized in the current “Best Lawyers in America” program, which is the oldest and among the most respected attorney ranking services in the world. In fact, Chain | Cohn | Stiles has two attorneys selected as “Best Lawyers.” David K. Cohn, managing partner at the law firm, was selected into the personal injury litigation category of Best Lawyers in America, while James A. Yoro, senior partner at the firm, was selected into the workers’ compensation law listings. They join the top 5 percent of practicing attorneys in the United States in being selected.

“We are deeply honored to have our law firm, which based in Kern County, included in this world-class ranking,” said Cohn, managing partner of Chain | Cohn | Stiles.

Added Yoro: “Our law firm has been dedicated to providing the very best representation for our clients in their accident, injury and workers’ compensation cases. It is amazing to be recognized for the work we provide.”

The “Best Law Firms” rankings are based on a rigorous evaluation process that includes the collection of client and lawyer evaluations, peer review from leading attorneys in their field, and review of additional information provided by law firms as part of the formal submission process. Clients are asked to provide feedback on firm practice groups, addressing expertise, responsiveness, understanding of a business and its needs, cost-effectiveness, civility, and whether they would refer another client to the firm. Some clients chose to write comments about their experiences with the law firms. Law firms were asked to provide us with general demographic and background information on the law firm and attorneys and other data that speaks to the strengths of a law firm’s practice areas.

For this year’s rankings, over 16,000 lawyers provided more than 1.129 million law firm assessments, and almost 12,000 clients provided more than 107,000 evaluations — the highest number of participating firms and client votes received on record.

“Choosing the right law firm can be a vital decision,” said Tim Smart, executive editor at U.S. News & World Report, in a statement. “The rankings draw on U.S. News’ 35 years of experience evaluating complex institutions to help individuals and companies alike make the best decisions.”

“For the 2020 ‘Best Law Firms’ publication, the evaluation process has remained just as rigorous and discerning as it did when we first started 10 years ago.” said Phil Greer, CEO of Best Lawyers, in a statement. “We are proud that the ‘Best Law Firms’ rankings continue to act as an indicator of excellence throughout the legal industry.”

The “Best Law Firms” rankings can be seen in their entirety by visiting bestlawfirms.usnews.com.

The 2019 year has been an award-winning year for Chain | Cohn | Stiles, which also falls on its 85-year anniversary. Besides “Best Lawyers” and “Best Law Firms” designations, the law firm was inducted into the inaugural “Best of Kern County Hall of Fame,” awarded to men, women, businesses, and organizations with a long history of excellence in their respective fields, and who also give back to our community.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles is an established and highly regarded personal injury and workers’ compensation law firm based in downtown Bakersfield, advocating for injured clients in the Central Valley and throughout California. Over the years, Chain | Cohn | Stiles has obtained more multi-million dollar awards and settlements than any other law firm in Kern County. It’s also the oldest personal injury law firm in the area. In all, the law firm has received more than half a billion dollars in the firm’s history on behalf of clients.

The law firm includes attorneys David Cohn, Jim Yoro, Matt Clark, Chad Boyles, Beatriz Trejo, Tanya Alsheikh, and Doug Fitz-Simmons. To learn more about each attorney, visit chainlaw.com.

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If you or someone you know is injured in an accident at the fault of someone else, or injured on the job no matter whose fault it is, contact the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles by calling (661) 323-4000, or fill out a free consultation form at chainlaw.com.

MADD Kern County’s sixth ‘Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash’ – presented by Chain | Cohn | Stiles – raises $60,000 to fight against DUI crimes

October 2, 2019 | 6:00 am


Kern County came together Saturday morning at the Park at River Walk to support victims of DUI crashes, call for an end of drunk and drugged driving, and raise more than $60,000 in the process.

The sixth annual Bakersfield Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash – presented by Chain | Cohn | Stiles – is aimed to raise awareness of the DUI problem in locally, raise funds for MADD Kern County’s educational programs and victim services, and support local victims and survivors of drunk and drugged driving crashes. Bringing out more than 800 walkers and runners for this cause, the event featured a kid’s fun run, 5K and 10K in what has become one of the largest fundraising walking and running events in Kern County, according to Bakersfield Track Club.

The morning featured an opening ceremony with statements from representatives from Mothers Against Drunk Driving, victims of DUI crashes, outgoing Kern County District Attorney Cynthia Zimmer, and Assemblyman Vince Fong, among others. It was followed by a kid’s fun run presented by Adventist Health and Bakersfield Active 20-30 Club, timed 5K and 10K runs, with medals awarded in age categories, and a march by victims, their families and supporters from our community.

“On this day, our community together to fight a serious in Kern County, and remember the victims of these crimes,” said Carla Pearson, victim services specialist for MADD Kern County. “If we all keep our passion for change for another 364 days, we will see a future in Kern County with no more victims.  Let’s make sure we all drive safe and sober, always.”

Making the event possible were sponsors Chain | Cohn | Stiles (presenting sponsor), Chevron, Kern High School District, STEPS, Sally Herald Accountancy Inc., UBS Financial, Clinica Sierra Vista, Kern Schools Federal Credit Union, Kern County Prosecutors Association, Strata Credit Union, Wells Fargo, Vince Fong for Assembly and more. A kid’s fun run was presented by Adventist Health and Bakersfield Active 20-30 Club.

Medals and trophies were awarded to the fastest runners in their respective age categories, with results being posted on the Bakersfield Track Club website. Awards were also given to the following top fundraisers:

  • Top Friends and Family Team: Madysyn & Kalebs Keepers ($3,113)
  • Top Individual Fundraiser: Laura Melton ($1,595)
  • Law Enforcement Challenge: Kern County District Attorney’s Office
  • Corporate Challenge: Kern Schools Federal Credit Union

Kern County is averaging nearly 12 DUI arrests per day. Each year in Kern County, dozens of innocent lives are lost – plus hundreds more injured and thousands of friends and families affected – from this 100 percent preventable crime. Kern County ranks worst in the state for DUI crashes resulting in injuries, and second most in the United States. This year alone (as of Sept. 10), CHP-Bakersfield officers have reported 288 DUI traffic collisions, with 11 resulting in fatalities.

Since 2014, the annual Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash has raised more than $350,000, including this year. It’s not too late to donate – donations are being accepted through October at www.walklikemadd.org/bakersfield.

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If you or someone you know is injured in an accident, please call the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles at (661) 323-4000, or chat with us online at chainlaw.com.

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EVENT MEDIA COVERAGE

PREVIEW MEDIA COVERAGE

Chain | Cohn | Stiles attorney Beatriz Trejo honored by ‘Latinas Leading the Way’

July 24, 2019 | 6:00 am


Beatriz Trejo, associate attorney with Chain | Cohn | Stiles, has been honored by the Latina Leaders of Kern County organization as one of the “Latinas Leading the Way.”

Trejo received the award July 20 at the 20th annual Latinas Leading the Way Awards event, honoring professional women who are making a mark in our community.

This year’s slate of honorees represent “the true essence of our organization’s mission,” and are “selected for their exceptional professionalism, achievements and commitment to our community,” according to Latina Leaders of Kern County. They are:

  • Claudia Catota: Chief Diversity Officer and Special Assistant to the President, California State University, Bakersfield
  • Teresa Romero: President, United Farm Workers
  • Beatriz Trejo: Attorney, Chain | Cohn | Stiles

The awards banquet is the nonprofit’s annual fundraiser supporting youth programs, specifically the Youth Leadership Program, where participants learn from key community leaders and experts in local government, education, economic empowerment, politics, and civic engagement.

Latina Leaders of Kern County, itself, was founded by Linda Quioñones-Vaughn in 1998, focusing on the development and empowerment of one of the fastest growing segments of in Kern County — Latinas. It is the mission of the nonprofit “to foster leadership, identify and develop opportunities for Latinas, and to influence key issues affecting our community,” according to the organization.

“We are passionate about continuously looking for opportunities that develop and support Latina Leadership. It is our philosophy to be committed, open minded, and inclusive. Latina Leaders of Kern County is ‘building a stronger community, one leader at a time’.”

Trejo’s biography was included in the event program, and a video of her accomplishments were highlighted as well. You can read her biography below, and you can watch the video by clicking here.

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Beatriz A. Trejo has been dedicated in her adult life to giving back through her career as an attorney, and in our community.

Beatriz attended Highland High School in Bakersfield before earning her bachelor’s degree in political science from Cal State Bakersfield and her master’s degree in political science from Cal State Northridge. After completing her law degree from the University of Akron School of Law in Ohio, Beatriz returned to her hometown.

Since 2015, she has been representing injured workers through her work as an associate attorney at Chain | Cohn | Stiles, advocating for those who get hurt on the job to receive their rightful benefits and heal. She is a Certified Legal Specialist in Workers’ Compensation and is co-chair of California Applicants’ Attorneys Association (CAAA) Latino Caucus, which seeks to improve workplace conditions for injured Latino workers, educating Latino workers about legal rights, and advocating for public policy in the best interest of Latino workers. She is also the past president of CAAA’s Bakersfield Chapter.

Relatedly, out in our community Beatriz has served on the panels of the Immigration Justice Collaborative, which aims to educate immigrants on their constitutional rights, is a frequent speaker for Kern County Small Business Academies, educating new business owners on work injury laws, and serves on the CSU Bakersfield Pre-Law Advisory Committee, helping aspiring lawyers. You can also find her on local Spanish radio stations discussing important legal issues, and assisting local residents with their legal questions.

For her tireless work, Beatriz has been honored: Awards include:

  • Workers’ Compensation Young Lawyer of the Year” award by the California State Bar.
  • Selectee in the Super Lawyers “Rising Stars” list by Southern California Super Lawyers Magazine, awarded to just 2.5% of lawyers under the age of 40 in the Southern California region. As part of the program, she was also selected to the “The Top Women Attorneys in Southern California — Rising Stars” list.
  • Top Attorneys” selectee as voted on by local lawyers, highlighting the best lawyers in their areas.
  • 2018 “20 Under 40 People to Watch” by Bakersfield Life Magazine.

Outside of the office, Beatriz has engulfed herself in our community serving on board of directors for charities, speaking to students, and paving the way for Latina girls in Kern County. She served as the keynote speaker for the 2017 CSU Bakersfield “Chicano Commencement Celebration.” She is a member of Latina Leaders of Kern County, and planning committee for the Comprehensive Blood and Cancer Center Foundation for Community Wellness’ Cancer Run – a cause that’s near and dear to her heart since her father passed away of cancer in 2016, and mom diagnosed with breast cancer.

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If you or someone you know is hurt on the job, or hurt in an accident at the fault of someone else, please contact lawyers at Chain | Cohn | Stiles at (661) 323-4000, or visit the website chainlaw.com for more information.

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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 up to $150,000 or double the value of the fraud, whichever is greater, or by both imprisonment and fine.