Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Use This Blog As A Local Lawyer News Resource

Our own lawyers and staff will use this blog to provide tips, tricks, tools, news, articles and other resources including case highlights and illustrating challenges we encounter.

Please check back regularly, bookmark this page or subscribe to stay up to date.

Consumer Lawyers focusing on personal injuries, bankruptcy and business disputes.

*We do not charge a consultation fee.*
We are happy to discuss your case to see if we can help.

Respectfully,

The Harmon Firm Legal Experts

(714) 558-9729
info@TheHarmonFirm.com
http://www.TheHarmonFirm.com


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Orange County Office
2107 North Broadway, Suite 102
Santa Ana, California 92706

Los Angeles Office
4017 Long Beach Blvd
Long Beach CA 90807
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Monday, February 21, 2011

Amazon.com sucks

I chose practicing law in the Consumer Advocacy because I am a consumer.  I buy and sell products in the market, albeit I sell services.  But a service is still a widget!  And as a buyer, I have come across one merchandising avenue that I recommend avoiding, to wit: Amazon.com.

I bought a pair of Motorola blue tooth headphones, the MOTOROKR S305.  Amazon.com link to the Motorola S305s

When the new headphones arrived at my office, I was thrilled.  I took them home to read the directions and attached the charging cable.  By morning I could tell they were not working.  The red light, signaling "no charge" was still illuminated when my morning alarm went off.  The online trouble shooter guide indicated that I should charge the unit with an alternate charger.  Since Motorola products have a common USB charging cable, I was able to attempt the charging maneuver with an alternate cable (my Droid cable).  The new charger didn't work either.

The next step was to initiate the return process.  F_ _ _ K ME!  It took me a few days just to get to the post office.  The shipper did not use a separate shipping container that could have been used as a turn vessel; it was shipped in its own point of sale packaging, with a mail label directing its route to me.  So I had to go to the post office to buy a box, but not before buying the exact same unit at the Apple store, so I could return the unit in the specific original packaging (I had thrown away some critical packaging components when receiving the original unit, and using all original packaging appeared to be strictly required). 

By the time I mailed it from the U.S. post office, had to go there to procure a shipping box/envelope, I was past the 7 day return limit!  I was standing in the post office, looking up the return address and merchandise number when I perused the return policy, when I came across the seven day return limit.  That was when I realized that the whole thing was a scam.  The next question was whether arguing over a $48 piece of crap was worth fighting over.  And then comes the blog. ..  

Amazon, through their merchandising agent, Cell Haven, sent me a one line email indicating that I was screwed: "We regret to inform you that the item you have returned does not qualify for returns, for more details please click on the link below..."

Moral of the story: don't buy electronic gadgets from Amazon.com or Cell Haven.  Or at least buyer beware!  I hope you find this helpful when deciding whether or not to buy on line. My next "online" purchase will be through a retailer, selling online, but with a local brick and mortar store where I can conduct a return the old fashioned way.

Consumer Lawyers focusing on personal injuries, bankruptcy and business disputes.
*We do not charge a consultation fee.*
We are happy to discuss your case to see if we can help.
Respectfully,
The Harmon Firm Legal Experts
(714) 558-9729
info@TheHarmonFirm.com
http://www.TheHarmonFirm.com

Subscribe to Blog by Email
Orange County Office
2107 North Broadway, Suite 102
Santa Ana, California 92706
Los Angeles Office
4017 Long Beach Blvd
Long Beach CA 90807
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Saturday, January 1, 2011

Fighting for Back Surgery

One of our several "wins" in 2010 was a dispute over spinal surgery.  The client ("Applicant") sustained a debilitating low back disc injury, with pain radiating down to his legs.  The treating doctors recommended back surgery and this was transmitted to the workers' comp insurance carrier ("defendant").

Under the Labor Code, the defendant should have either approved the recommended treatment or have a medical expert reject the treatment through their "Utilization Review" program.  Since this case involved a back operation, an objection required that defendant request a special "second opinion" consultation from a spinal surgeon.  But there are very strict time limitations surrounding the objection and subsequent second opinion examination and report, to wit: "Examinations shall be scheduled on an expedited basis. The second opinion report shall be served on the parties within 45 days of receipt of the treating physician's report." (See Labor Code section 4062(b).)  http://law.onecle.com/california/labor/4062.html

In our case, defendant failed to object and then refused to authorize the surgery.  This resulted in an expedited hearing (a hurry up trial to deal with the medical treatment issue).  At trial the judge strongly "suggested" that we agree on a second opinion doctor despite defendant's apparent failure to abide by 4062(b).  We agreed to use William Dillin, MD, of the renowned Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic. http://www.kerlanjobe.com/Physicians/william_dillin_md.aspx

But then Dr. Dillin failed to issue a report within the limits set by the law (45 days of receipt of the treating docotor's report).  When Dr. Dillin did produce a report, he didn't answer the question: was the applicant a candidte for back surgery?  So back to court for an order compelling Dr. Dillin's deposition since his office would not voluntarily schedule a deposition time.  During Dr. Dillin's deposition, the good doctor recommended surgery if the applicant passed a psychological pre-surgery clearance and a CT meylogram indicated evidence of "crushed" nerve roots.  Long story short, all of the new diagnostic testing supported going forward with surgery, but the defendant still refused to authorize back surgery.  Then the law received some support, a new case called  Cervantes v. El Aguila Food Products (2008) decided, among other issues, that failure to properly object under 4062(b), resulted in automatic liability for the disputed back surgery.  The court held that if utilization-review recommends spinal surgery, or if the defendant fails to complete utilization review within 10 days, the defendant must approve the surgery.
  http://www.lexisnexis.com/Community/workerscompensationlaw/blogs/freedownloads/archive/2010/02/17/FREE-DOWNLOAD_3A00_-Cervantes-v.-El-Aguila-Food-Products-_2800_Calif.-WCAB-En-Banc_2900_.aspx

Upon reading Cervantes, we sent a letter to defendant again requesting the surgery and raised a penalty for the continued failure to authorize the back surgery.  To no avail, defendants continued to refuse the surgery.  Talk about insult to injury.  We petition the court for a new hearing.  The court granted our request for a trial and the judge ruled in applicant's favor.  Ironically, Dr. Dillin eventually issued a final report, after our trial, indicating that the applicant indeed met the minimum requirements for surgery.  We are currently drafting a new penalty petition because the defendant continues to object to the surgery, despite the court's ruling and Dr. Dillin's final report.

If you have a case involving the need for back surgery in an industrial setting, please feel free to contact our office to discuss your options.  We are happy to share our points and authorities with represented and unrepresented applicants.

The Harmon Firm, APC
Consumer Lawyers focusing on personal injuries and consumer bankruptcy.
*We do not charge a consultation fee.*


(714) 558-9729
info@TheHarmonFirm.com
http://www.TheHarmonFirm.com

Subscribe to Blog by Email
Orange County Office
2107 North Broadway, Suite 102
Santa Ana, California 92706
Los Angeles Office
4017 Long Beach Blvd
Long Beach CA 90807
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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Getting Paid for Depositions

You've been injured at work.  Now comes the insult: the insurance company "requests" that you provide a list of medical conditions, prior injuries, and job history (you probably already provided that information on the original job application).  Rule # 1) don't sign that Consent to Release information form.  Doctors are entitled to know about your medical history during medical exams.  Insurance companies want to gain access to your personal information in order to attack your claim for benefits.  When the insurance company complains that you are not "cooperating" because you are not signing the release forms or providing a written history of your medical/employment history, rely on Rule # 2) tell them to set your deposition and then hire an attorney.  The law allows an employer/insurance company to "discover" information about you.  But the flow of information should be filtered and limited by an attorney on your side.  The proper procedure to get your personal information is by giving them a deposition.  This procedure forces the insurance company's representative (e.g. claim examiner, adjustor, lawyer, investigator) to gain relevant information through a question & answer session under oath.  There is no requirement that you sign a consent to release information.  This costs the insurance carrier money, but your privacy is worth it!

The Labor Code allows for "reasonable" attorneys fees associated with defending an applicants deposition. "Applicant" is the technical term for an injured employee whom is "applying" for workers' compensation benefits.  Therefore it is possible to engage a lawyer for the limited roll of "defending" your deposition.  After the deposition process is over, you can go back to handling the claim on your own, and the attorney will get paid for his/her expertise directly by the insurance carrier, pursuant to LC section 5710.  A link to the code is:
http://law.onecle.com/california/labor/5710.html

The above referenced law also forces the carrier to pay the applicants reasonable expenses of transportation, meals, and lodging incident to the deposition; reimbursement for any loss of wages incurred during attendance at the deposition and a free copy of the deposition transcript.

The flow of your personal information should be carefully controlled by an attorney on your side.  So in the event that the insurance carrier wants access to your medical or other private information, it is recommended that you have a workers compensation lawyer at least during the "discovery" phase of the case.  This will also help identify any issues that may interfere with the smooth processing of your injury claim.  The applicant can be assured that they are receiving valuable services from their lawyer, even though the applicant is not paying legal fees, since the attorney fees will be paid by the carrier for the pre-deposition preparation time and during the deposition proceeding.

If you do not want to hire a lawyer, go to the Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) web site for a basic guide:  http://www.dir.ca.gov/dwc/WCFaqIW.html


We are happy to discuss your case to see if we can help, even if it is only for the limited engagement of defending your deposition.

James Harmon

The Harmon Firm
(714) 558-9729
info@TheHarmonFirm.com
http://www.TheHarmonFirm.com

Subscribe to Blog by Email
Orange County Office
2107 North Broadway, Suite 102
Santa Ana, California 92706
Los Angeles Office
4017 Long Beach Blvd
Long Beach CA 90807
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Monday, December 27, 2010

"File a workers' comp claim and your fired!"

New potential client called today, worried that he'd be "fired" if an industrial claim was commenced.  I told the victim of this typical employer style boogie-man threat, that I was sorry, since he only had a few days of work left.  "What?!" the guy asked.  "But I have not filed a claim, and they don't know I'm talking to a lawyer on the phone!!!" 

The potential client, lets call him "Bob", had been injured in the normal course of his job lifting heavy stuff.  A bunch of co-workers saw the incident, and of course critizized him for being such a wimp for complaining about back pain. Nontheless, the employer sent him to the industrial clinic which, unbeknown to Bob or the employer, actually lit the fuse.  All it takes to start a workers' compensation claim is to get hurt on the job.

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Final week of 2010

Coming out of the Christmas holiday, taking a few days out of the office to reflecting on another year of hard work, I can't help but get excited about finishing the year strong.  Pushing the envelope with every ounce of try, left over from a healthy dose attributed to the family, and a real cranking toward ending strong and setting up for a brilliant 2011.

During the break I've been able to test my mobile devices and learned that my old laptop still has some gas in the tank.  My little  Dell D630 that could has allowed me to portal to some previously unseen URLs of some truly inspiring music YouTube cites.  I have to stop to give pause to a pointed lyric:

"Oh, I'll break them down, no mercy shown
Heaven knows, it's got to be this time," from "Ceremony" by New Order/Joy Division.

follow this URL to see a recent incarnation of the New Order folks

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RWyR5GFPMBM&feature=player_detailpage

(Check this only if you have a strong broadband connection and equally qualified audio speakers).

Hope you continue to follow our blog into the new year and beyond. 

James Harmon

The Harmon Firm, APC
(714) 558-9729
info@TheHarmonFirm.com
http://www.TheHarmonFirm.com

Subscribe to Blog by Email

Orange County Office
2107 North Broadway, Suite 102
Santa Ana, California 92706
Los Angeles Office
4017 Long Beach Blvd
Long Beach CA 90807
Share/Bookmark

Friday, December 24, 2010

Compromise and Release - with a Medicare Set Aside Agreement

 We just settled a case with a $38,700 MSA.  The employer's insurance carrier wanted to "seed" the MSA with about $22,000, which would then grow to the required MSA amount over the course of years.  But what if the injured worker's industrial injury medical needs required use of most or all of the MSA funds.  The "seed" money could get used up and Medicare could be put in a position to refuse to treat since the MSA had not been exhausted. 

Solution:  have the carrier fund 100% of the MSA or have a clause written in the settlement document that would require the carrier to kick-in cash in the event the money in the MSA was not sufficient, prior to maturation of the annuity or other investment vehicle had not appreciated to meet the MSA number.


Consumer Lawyers focusing on personal injuries, bankruptcy and business disputes.
*We do not charge a consultation fee.*
We are happy to discuss your case to see if we can help.
Respectfully,
The Harmon Firm Legal Experts
(714) 558-9729
info@TheHarmonFirm.com
http://www.TheHarmonFirm.com

Subscribe to Blog by Email
Orange County Office
2107 North Broadway, Suite 102
Santa Ana, California 92706
Los Angeles Office
4017 Long Beach Blvd
Long Beach CA 90807
Share/Bookmark