California Applicants' Attorneys Association Announces 2013-14 leadership team:
Key Goals - Limiting Utilization Review Denials, Building Alliances & Creating Code of Standards
Contact: Steve Hopcraft 916/457-5546, Steve@hopcraft.com; Twitter: @shopcraft
SACRAMENTO, CA - The California Applicants’ Attorneys Association (CAAA), whose members represent Californians injured on the job, today announced that it has installed a new president and team of officers for the coming year. Incoming CAAA President Jim Butler of ButlerViadro, a Bay Area firm specializing in fighting for the rights of California’s injured workers, said his priorities would include "bringing out-of-control Utilization Review (UR) to heel, building strategic alliances with like-minded organizations to address workplace injuries, improving CAAA’s communication with our members and the outside world, and strengthening the rules of professional conduct as applicable to workers’ compensation advocates. CAAA is urging stronger standards for all parties to the workers’ compensation system, and strengthening penalties for unreasonable delay and denial of recommended medical treatment and approved disability compensation."
Butler has a deep passion for advocating on behalf of those with disabling injuries, having suffered the near loss of his leg after being struck at age 17 by a hit-and-run driver while riding his bicycle. "CAAA will advocate for those who suffer disabling injuries at work, and look to find ways to collaborate with other groups to improve workplace safety, medical treatment and disabilities compensation. I know what it’s like to live with permanent disabilities, and how horrible it is to be denied needed medical treatment and support for daily living," said Butler. "Insurers’ Utilization Review routinely delays and denies doctors’ legitimate requests for appropriate medical treatment. This is unnecessary and expensive and has got to change. We see the evidence of out-of-control delay and denial in the 15,000 appeals to the new Independent Medical Review program. Unless we bring UR to heel, and stop insurance carriers from using it as a routine roadblock, the IMR program will continue to be overwhelmed."
Butler will work with CAAA members to develop clear rules of professional conduct that both support strong advocacy for injured workers’ legitimate needs while specifying what CAAA considers to be unethical behavior by any party to a workers’ compensation claim. "When workers’ compensation insurers, physicians, or attorneys act without high ethical standards, injured workers ultimately suffer. Over and over we have seen the use of unacceptable practices by a few as a platform to assault basic rights of injured workers. I want to work with our members during the coming year to develop standards for workers’ compensation advocates," said Butler. "We invite the entire workers’ compensation community to adopt similar standards for claims adjustors, medical providers and others."
Mr. Butler was born in Compton, California, the son of an attorney who represented plaintiffs in pharmaceutical malpractice and product liability cases. He lived in Central America for several years, and is fluent in Spanish.
Mr. Butler earned his law degree at the University of San Francisco. While in law school, he received awards for best brief and oral argument for the school’s Moot Court Competition. He has also received the American Jurisprudence Award in Professional Responsibility. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in rhetoric from the University of California at Berkeley. Butler is the author of the Injured Worker Survival Guide (1987 – 1995).
"CAAA has built a powerful digital platform over the past three years, and we will focus its power on improving our internal and external communications, and to distribute our education programs. As the premier workers’ compensation education provider, we want to make our expertise available to all interested parties to improve the treatment of injured workers," said Butler. "We invite visitors to caaa.org, and we will be making some of our programs available there for free. For example, right now the public will find a free podcast on Independent Medical Review."
CAAA’s leaders for 2013-2014 also include: Larry Stern, Mallery & Stern, Esq., Legislative Chair; Bernardo De La Torre, Law Office of Bernardo De La Torre, Esq., President-Elect; Bert Arnold of Boxer & Gerson, Esq., Treasurer; and, Christel Schoenfelder, Rose, Klein & Marias, Esq., Secretary.