Chris joined the firm in 2011, become a shareholder in 2017 and received his designation as a Certified Workers’ Compensation Specialist by the State Bar of California in January 2020. He earned his J.D. with Distinction from University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law in 2010, and was a member of the Roger J. Traynor Honor Society. Prior to joining Cuneo, Black, Ward & Missler, Chris was a law clerk with the City of Sacramento. He has served on the Board of Directors of the Association of Workers’ Compensation Professionals since 2012 and regularly speaks at industry events.
Chris concentrates primarily on workers’ compensation defense cases, defending and advising insurance carriers, self-insured employers, public entities including cities and counties and third-party administrators on workers’ compensation matters including Serious and Willful, 132a discrimination and asbestos claims.
Self-insured Employers/High Deductible Policies
Chris has worked extensively with clients that are self-insured or that have high-deductible policies. These clients face a number of unique – and sometimes daunting – challenges in connection with workers’ compensation claims. Chris has experience formulating and coordinating litigation strategies with both the claims adjustor and employer representative.
Public Safety Officers
Handling cases that involve police officers and other first responders is unique given the various presumption statutes. Chris has experience working on complex cases involving these types of injuries and illnesses. He understands the intricacies involved and can utilize his expertise to help minimize the employer’s exposure.
Chris encourages early resolution on all cases as it is generally in his client’s best interest to close the claim as soon as possible. He frequently resolves claims via Compromise and Release at the applicant’s deposition. The next step is to obtain settlement approval, generally on a walk-through basis. Chris has experience doing “walk-throughs” at nearly all the Northern California WCAB offices. Chris understands that preparation is crucial so that he can anticipate and address any questions the judge may have regarding adequacy.
What is the most interesting case you handled?
An applicant sustained a brain aneurysm while working as a concrete laborer. He had to be “life flighted” for emergency treatment including surgery. This was a potential total permanent disability case. We obtained a consult report from a physician to assist in our AOE/COE defense. At applicant’s deposition we reached an early resolution for $25,000 which was an excellent result given the potential exposure while only incurring minimal litigation expenses.
What do you see on the horizon?
Inevitably, the worker’s compensation system will get another overhaul, but that won’t happen for at least a few more years. In the meantime I anticipate that applicant’s attorneys will continue to chip away at the positive reforms instituted by SB 863. For example, the number of psyche compensable consequence claims will continue to increase since the violent act exception has been liberally interpreted by the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board.
If not a lawyer…a scuba diving instructor in Bora Bora.