JOSEPH C. GJONOLA, ESQ.
Woodland Hills, California
Workers’ compensation defense counsel are not engaged in the usual tripartite relationship that exists in other liability insurance contexts.1 The workers’ compensation insurance company is often the workers’ compensation defense attorney’s only client and thus is the only one entitled to attorney-client protections such as the attorney’s duty of loyalty and confidentiality. Nevertheless, contracts might require employers to cooperate in the defense of their employees’ injury claims. Therefore, an employer’s attorney and a workers’ compensation defense attorney may not have the same client, even if they are working together on the same claim.
In California, workers’ compensation liability arises from the constitution2 and lies in neither tort nor contract. The workers’ compensation system