Home > Tactics and Strategy > All About Applicants’ Attorneys’ Fees (Part 2 of 3)

All About Applicants’ Attorneys’ Fees (Part 2 of 3)

In yesterday’s post, we talked about the problems defendants encounter when facing an injured worker who has yet to file an application.  One approach to this problem, when the injury or causation itself is contested, is to withhold benefits until an application is filed, but there are other options that don’t come with the same risks and liabilities.

There are, after all, times when filing an application for adjudication of claim will not (or at least, should not) trigger Labor Code § 4064California Code of Regulation § 10878 states that “[t]he filing of a compromise and release agreement or stipulations with request for award shall constitute the filing of an application.”

However, § 10400(b) states that “[a] case opening Compromise and Release Agreement, a case opening Stipulations with Request for Award, and a Request for Findings of Fact under section 10405 are each an ‘application’ for purposes of invoking the jurisdiction of the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board, but none of these documents shall be deemed an application for purposes of Labor Code section 4064(c).”

Therefore, at least in theory, filing settlement documents without having first filed an application for the unrepresented applicant, should not trigger future liability for applicant’s yet-to-be-hired attorney.  But, it appears that there were different results in the case of Monument Car Parts v. WCAB (Teach) (2007), in which the Workers’ Compensation Judge ruled that defendant’s filing of a compromise and release agreement for approval triggered a duty to pay attorney’s fees.  However, the facts of that case reflect a defendant somewhat unresponsive to the Judge’s inquiries regarding the adequacy of the proposed settlement.

Another alternative course of action is simply roll over and pay out for all treatment and permanent disability in accordance with the treating physician’s report.  But then the defense loses many of the benefits of discovery, including possible grounds for apportionment (Labor Code §§ 4663 and 4664) or defenses based on Arising Out of Employment/Course of Employment (AOE/COE).

So what happens if the defense files an application for the unrepresented applicant?  Check back tomorrow for Part III!

Categories: Tactics and Strategy
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