HARRIS: One of the aims of the so-called
"reforms" of the workers’ compensation law that
went into effect in 2004 was to get lawyers out of
the system by reducing fees. You have found some
effective ways to adjust to the new system.
Where do you begin?
PEEK: I have always been very
interviewing a client -- a job I never delegate -- but it
is more important than ever to get a really detailed
medical history and work history. This reveals
potential claims and potential apportionment.
Most litigation has two prongs -- liability and
damages. The totality of your medical pleadings are
your damages. Most attorneys focus on liability and
then come back to damages. Determine your
potential damages first to see if you even want the
case and then pursue the threshold issue of liability.
Have your client sign the health questionnaire form to
substantiate that you have plead the proper body
parts injured as a result of the accident or as a
compensable consequence. This can then be sent
to all doctors in the future to support treatment or
impairment in these areas.
I want to know if my client as a result of the work
injury or the treatment for the work injury has
increased weight, stress, diabetes, heart condition,
cataracts from pain meds, stomach problems and
a laundry list of other complaints which are big ticket
items in the AMA, but were hard to get disability under
the old system because of overlap and because they
really didn't have much impact on "work restrictions."
I immediately subpoena all the records necessary
to prove up my case. I want to know the good, bad
and the ugly as early as possible. Right from the
beginning, I am preparing to try the case.
HARRIS: How are you coping
with the post-2005
limitations on forensic evaluations?
PEEK: I rely
on the treating physician, get my client
out of the MPN as
early as possible in the case, gain
control of medical treatment,
and do medical
research. I develop relationships with reliable
treaters so I can get my client the treatment they
the evidence we need for the case.
I prefer to use pain management
internists rather than orthopedists, whose focus
tends to be too narrow.
HARRIS: Do you take a lot
of doctor depositions?
What are you looking for and how do you go
PEEK: I am
looking to get rid of apportionment, or to
get evidence for
additional CTs if they are
apportioning to degeneration. I
am looking to get
details on future medical treatment and return
work issues. I do my research and question the
studies that show chronic pain and
stress affect just about
every body part. Even a
defense doc, given all the publicity
of stress on just
about everything, cannot deny the impact
serious injury on other body parts or systems.
the door to big dollar treatments, and this
of course leads
to better settlements.
HARRIS: How do you go
about settling your cases?
Do you have any special techniques?
PEEK: I try
to get a nurse case manager of my choice
on the case so that
I can get my clients the treatment
they need and also get help
evaluating the cost of
future medical care. Medicare Set Asides
have been beneficial in some ways since it has
the insurance carriers to more accurately
assess future medical
needs and costs. I demand life
care plans to determine the
cost of future medical
treatment. This forces the carriers
to extend their
reserves and ultimately brings more pressure
settle by compromise and release.
HARRIS: Many good treating doctors now won't
take workers’ compensation cases. Is there
anything we can do about that?
need to nurture our doctors and help them survive in practice.
We also need to educate them to the requirements of the new
system. If they are having trouble getting paid, we need to
Law Offices of Lon E. Peek II
18837 Brookhurst Street, Suite 207
Fountain Valley, CA 92807