Samantha Deutschel (J.D ’11) exemplifies the reason you should pay attentions in Torts I and II; she currently works for a workers’ compensation defense firm that involves NFL cases brought by retired athletes who played in California or played in games here.
Deutschel said that the workers’ compensation is a small specialty niche within the legal community, so many people within it know each other; this proximity to the same group of professionals demands consistent high levels of professionalism. She has also enjoyed gaining an understanding of the different personalities and strategies people use within this area of law. “I like that I do traditional workers’ compensation and professional athlete cases because it gives a little element of excitement,” she said.
In this context, a defense firm defends workers’ compensation claims, meaning her firm represents employers, insurance carriers, and third party administrators. She has become well versed in the workers’ compensation claim process through her work with the firm. She explained that applicants will file claims and her firm will utilize any applicable initial legal defenses and presumptions to stop the claim before it goes any further. Then, if the claim moves forward, pre-approved doctors or a state-issued panel of doctors will evaluate the applicant and the amount of disability, causation, apportionment and future medical care expenses. Most athlete applicants live out of state, so the firm tries to move through all the legal proceedings at the same time after the athletes come to California.
For students looking to become involved with the workers’ compensation area of law, Deutschel mentioned, “This is a difficult area of law; you need to be able to apply the Labor Code to your set of facts and be able to identify your legal strengths and weaknesses in the case.” She recommended taking Negotiations to help hone skills in settling claims.
Although she just began her professional legal career, Deutschel has found a comfortable home in the workers’ compensation area of law: “Right now is an exciting time to be practicing in workers’ compensation since there have been legislative changes and more is coming down the pipeline,” she said.