Pothitakis Law Firm was contacted by W.D., a gentleman who sustained an Iowa work injury while performing work for a local employer. He sustained an injury to his low back. Ultimately, he had to undergo surgery as a result of his low back injury. While recovering from his low back injury, he slipped and fell as a result of his leg giving out on him. On behalf of our client, we argued that the leg giving out on W.D. was directly related to his low back surgery and condition and was therefore an Iowa work injury. As a result of his leg giving out and his fall, W.D. sustained an injury to his neck. Unfortunately, a neck surgery was required as a result of the fall. Pothitakis Law Firm was successful in requiring the defendants to accepted his neck condition as part of the Iowa workers compensation claim.
W.D. was an individual who spent his adult life in Iowa and who had limited education and spent most of his adult life working heavy labor positions. As a result of his low back and neck conditions, he was limited in the amount of weights that he could lift and the number of physical activities he could undertake. The Pothitakis Law Firm consulted with his treating surgeon to obtain favorable reports concerning W.D.’s attempt to recover. The doctors provided reports detailing the limitations W.D. would face in the future from his injuries.
Pothitakis Law Firm referred the Claimant for a Functional Capacity Evaluation to determine his physical capabilities. This evaluation demonstrated that his lifting limits were significantly reduced and that he would not likely be able to return to his former job.
Pothitakis Law Firm also had him evaluated by a vocational rehabilitation expert. That expert set forth an opinion that the Claimant’s potential for future employment was limited significantly, if not 100% limited. Pothitakis Law Firm inquired about the potential for settlement of the claim prior to hearing. Mr. Pothitakis set forth what he believed was a reasonable demand to try and resolve the claim. The insurance company took the position that they were not going to respond to the settlement demand and would prefer to proceed to hearing.
In February of 2012, Pothitakis Law Firm and W.D. appeared before a judge and presented their case seeking additional Iowa Workers' Compensation benefits. Shortly thereafter, a Decision was entered granting the Claimant lifetime Iowa Workers' Compensation benefits for his Iowa work injury. This is called a “permanent total disability.” It was the best decision that the Claimant could receive. The present value of the award approaches $300,000. The Defendants are also responsible for the payment of the Claimant’s medical expenses associated with his injury for the remainder of his life.
This case illustrates the fact that Iowa Workers' Compensation insurance carriers on many occasions fail to recognize the value of an injured party’s Iowa Workers' Compensation claim. It also illustrates the fact that sometimes the best course of action is to simply proceed to hearing to obtain a decision from a Deputy Iowa Workers' Compensation Commissioner.