Claimant Receives Significant Award Despite Limited Wage Loss

The Claimant worked for a steel company performing heavy production work. His job entailed the use of air hammers and grinders and required repeated use his upper body and extremities. While performing work duties, the Claimant started experiencing pain and discomfort in both arms and both shoulders.

 

The Claimant reported the problems but did not seek medical care for several months. The Claimant had hopes that his injuries would improve and he thought at the time he had sustained a minor strain. However, the Claimant's condition did not improve and ultimately he needed to seek medical care. He was seen by a local orthopaedic surgeon who performed multiple surgeries on his elbows and shoulders.

 

Pothitakis Law Firm was contacted to help determine the valuation of the claim. The Claimant's ultimate entitlement was determined by how his work injury affected his ability to work and earn money. “Industrial disability” is the legal term. Pothitakis Law Firm helped the Claimant obtain a second opinion examination from a doctor who evaluated the Claimant's impairments and injuries. Pothitakis Law Firm also contacted the Claimant's treating physicians to document opinions that supported the limitations the Claimant would face in the future due to his injuries.

 

The parties presented their case before a Deputy Workers' Compensation Commissioner in late 2011. In early 2012, a decision awarded the Claimant a significant industrial disability. This happened despite the fact that the Claimant was continuing to work for the employer at a higher hourly wage after his injury. Not satisfied with the Decision, the Worker's Compensation Insurance Company filed an appeal asking that the Decision be reduced. Pothitakis Law Firm assisted the Claimant on filing briefs in support of the Decision, and requesting the judge to deny the appeal.

 

This case exemplifies that even though the injured employee is able to return to work and earn the same or higher wage, this does not mean the claim has no value. The fact that the Claimant had to work with significant pain and discomfort, and the fact that he was unable to accept or take on as much overtime as he previously had, both were significant factors resulting in a significant award.