Making The Case - When you need help, who are you going to call?

By Aimee Kelly Rios

Inland Empire Magazine • November 2010

For a government that's supposed to be "of the people, by the people, for the people," the legal system it has produced can be a perplexing mine field to navigate for the average Joe. That's where attorneys come in. Specializing in everything from child custody to worker's compensation, they know the language, the landscape, pitfalls and power plays that color the road ahead. Lawyers illuminate the path or chop their way to a new one if necessary. Inland Empire attorneys are no different. Some have argued cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, an experience that one says was "awesome and humbling." Another helped settle a billion-dollar class action suit against a drug company. Others work with less visibility, but not without the passion. Whether you're mapping out plans for a new business or fighting your way through a divorce, lawyers are there to help. Here are a few Inland Empire attorneys who are masters in their fields:

Robert I. Vines
Rose, Klein & Marias LLP • Ontario

WORKERS' COMPENSATION ATTORNEY Robert Vines, 64, of Ontario, says there's more workers' comp fraud committed by employers than employees. Sure, we've all seen those videos on TV of someone who claimed to be seriously injured on the job lifting heavy objects, but Vines says it's a public relations ploy. He says insurance companies want people to believe that "people who are injured on the job are trying to pull one over. Believe me, a fraudulent claim is worth nothing," he says. "We generally deal with the people who have had their lives interrupted because they were injured on the job and now they are forced to earn less, have their medical treatment interfered with and no guarantees of going back to work or being rehabilitated."

One of Vines' clients has been the target of an insurance company video, but the footage actually helped the case. "We watched 45 minutes one day and 45 minutes another day of [my client] walking, and this was supposed to be evidence that she didn't have an injury, where, in fact, she was seriously disabled and her doctor had encouraged her to take 45-minute walks every day. She was following doctor's orders."

Vines says you'd have to be a complete idiot to file a fraudulent case as an employee because the benefits are so low. However, an employer may commit fraud by not reporting injuries or by under-reporting the payroll to keep premiums down.

Initially, worker's comp wasn't a specialty Vines intended to pursue after he received his law degree in 1973 from the University of San Diego. But it was something he found he enjoyed when he joined Rose, Klein and Marias in 1975. Before that he spent two years as a district attorney for San Bernardino County. He has also been certified as a specialist in Workers' Compensation by the State Bar of California.

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