The Court of Appeals of Iowa recently affirmed the decision of the workers’ compensation commission in the case of Jack Cooper Transit Co., Inc. and Bruce Jones. Fifty-eight year old Bruce Jones had worked as a truck driver since 1976. In June, 2006 he injured his back, underwent surgery, and returned to work with no restrictions. He suffered another back injury in April, 2009 and, after surgery, he again was able to return to work without restrictions. On December 6th, 2009, Jones felt a severe pain in his back as he lifted a pallet.
Jones was examined by numerous physicians subsequent to his injury, and an MRI was ordered. The physicians determined that his most recent injury was at the L4-5 level, based on examination and the MRI. Although a physician noted that disc bulging was present, they did not note stenosis, herniation, or other structural abnormality or permanent problem.
Jones was examined by Dr. Brent Koprivica, and independent physician. Dr. Koprivica restricted Jones from numerous strenuous movements including heavy lifting, squatting, crawling, repetitive twisting and turning, and pushing and pulling activities. He further restricted Jones from “whole body vibration or jarring activities such as operating heavy equipment or commercial driving.”
In 2010, Jones underwent left hip replacement surgery, unrelated to his back injury, and was determined to be eligible for Social Security disability benefits. He subsequently underwent right knee replacement surgery in 2010 as well, also unrelated to his back injury. Jones resigned from his job on September 15, 2010, citing ongoing pain.
On December 5, 2011, Jones filed for workers’ compensation benefits. A deputy commissioner determined that Dr. Koprivica’s opinion held more weight than the other physicians who had examined Jones, and found that the restrictions placed upon Jones based on his December, 2009 injuries rendered him permanently and totally disabled. The commissioner and district court both affirmed the decision, finding it not irrational, illogical, or wholly unjustifiable.
In the review by the Court of Appeals, Jack Cooper Transit Co., Inc. presents that the recommendations of Dr. Koprivica should be ignored as he was not privy to Jones’ previous medical records and that other physicians did not find the injuries to be permanent.
Jones states that he continues to have pain from his injuries, and that the pain he felt after his most recent injury was significantly worse than the pain he had felt prior.
Upon review, the court found that there is reasonable evidence to support the findings of the of the district court and the workers’ compensation commissioner and affirmed the rulings. Bruce Jones will receive the benefits he rightfully deserves for his injuries. If you have suffered injuries in a work-related accident, contact the Pothitakis Law Firm for further assistance either online or by phone at 866-753-4692.