Janice is the current President of Cuneo, Black, Ward, and Missler. She has been with the firm since 1986 and has been a shareholder since 1991. She has been a certified specialist in workers compensation for over 25 years, is a current DWC-approved arbitrator, and is available for mediations. She can also provide consulting to employers who would like help navigating through the system. Her practice focuses on quality representation designed to achieve the client’s goals/priorities for the case. Her skills and past experience include initial analysis and recommended case strategy, discovery implementation, negotiation & settlement, trial and post-trial appellate work. Janice has extensive experience with all issues before the WCAB including injury AOE/COE, employment, complex AMA Guides Ratings, and cases involving complex medical issues. She is a frequent lecturer for industry associations throughout California and provides custom training to clients in all areas of workers’ compensation law.
Janice represents insurance companies, self-insured employers, third-party administrators (TPAs) and uninsured employers. She has extensive knowledge of the unique issues facing public entities as well the challenges for today’s carriers in this highly regulated and fast paced industry. Her caseload has recently involved significant activity in the following areas:
First Responders/Peace Officers
Handling cases that involve first responders is unique given the special benefits afforded this class of employee, including the presumptions of injury. Janice is referred a large number of complex cancer and heart cases because her knowledge of the law requires opposing counsel to prove the theories they set forth and not just rely on vague allegations. Janice typically receives a more favorable result for her clients with this approach.
Toxic Exposure Cases
Janice has a distinct skillset built over time working on toxic exposure cases. She understands how certain exposures lead to particular types of cancer. Oftentimes, her role is to minimize the exposure by using creative strategies to posture the case for a more favorable resolution.
Trials and Appellate Practice
Janice is an experienced trial and appellate attorney. Trial strategies are about the correct record for the trial judge and/or appellate court. This is achieved through proper preparation of the case and analysis of the quality of the discovery obtained. She will assist clients in determining if a case is suitable for trial or appeal, and if it is not, will negotiate a beneficial result by settlement.
Whether it’s defending cases involving significant injury to an employee’s spinal cord or severe brain damage, Janice is well-qualified to assist and understands the complexities and potential exposure. She knows how to use experts to the client’s advantage, whether that is defending against the injury or determining case values for settlement.
What is the most interesting case you handled?
Over the years Janice has worked on multiple interesting cases. Among them was a case involving multiple personalities where the injured worker claimed the stress of the job created a new personality. Treated by a well-respected psychologist, the injured worker was diagnosed with Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), a condition that results when significant traumatic events cause an individual to create a new personality to respond to the event. Janice took this case to trial and won, proving that non-industrial events, not the employment, caused the condition.
Additional interesting cases have included serious medical conditions such as pulmonary and cardiac sarcoidosis, breast, lung, prostate and kidney cancer, and multiple cases involving significant brain injuries or quadriplegia. She has been involved in many cases where undercover investigation has helped to successfully defend the case.
What do you see on the horizon?
I suspect we will see another overhaul of the workers’ compensation system. The cases involving Almaraz/Guzman and the exceptions to the psych compensable consequence claim have been eroding the stricter standard for permanent disability set forth by the legislature in the last major reform. Despite the last three significant overhauls, the system still needs further reform.
If not a lawyer … a teacher, child care provider, or photographer.