The Claimant was injured in Iowa in March of 2009 while working for a heavy steel manufacturer. The Claimant sustained an Iowa workers compensation injury to his right shoulder. The Claimant’s care was directed by the employer, and he was ultimately seen by a surgeon who performed a right shoulder surgery. Despite the shoulder surgery, the Claimant continued to suffer from pain and discomfort.
The treating surgeon chosen by the employer set forth his opinion that the Claimant had sustained a 3% whole person impairment. Based upon this rating, the employer provided a payment of 3% whole person, or 15 weeks of benefits. Claimant demanded the payment of additional benefits representing the Claimant’s true loss. The insurance company and employer took the position that there were no additional benefits owed and made no additional payments or offers of settlement. They felt that “zero” was the appropriate response to any inquiry of settlement.
Claimant’s counsel sought and obtain and second opinion from a qualified physician who set forth an opinion that the Claimant had sustained an 8% whole person impairment. The Workers' Compensation insurance carrier and employer again indicated that regardless of the higher rating from the independent medical examination physician, their offer would remain the same….ZERO.
Pothitakis Law Firm consulted with the Claimant and determined that the only course of action was to proceed to hearing before a Deputy Workers' Compensation Commissioner. A hearing was held and a Decision was entered in late January of 2012. The Decision found that the Claimant was entitled to approximately $50,000 in new money as a result of his work-related right shoulder injury. The Defendants’ argument of “no new money” was rejected by the judge.
The Claimant and the staff of Pothitakis Law Firm were extremely pleased with the Decision and are currently awaiting the payment of the award or a Notice of Appeal. This case illustrates that the payment of an impairment rating does not always resolve a claim. If the injury is an industrial disability injury, a Claimant is typically entitled to significantly more than the impairment rating. It’s important to talk with an attorney to discuss the true value of claims even when payments are being made.