Pothitakis Law Firm assisted “G.R.” with respect to an Iowa Workers' Compensation injury that occurred at a local manufacturing facility. While performing her work, the Claimant began having back pain. There was not a specific traumatic incident or injury, but just a gradual back pain that developed from performing her job. The Claimant sought care with her own chiropractor without going through the proper channels with her employer. She sought care with this chiropractor on a few occasions. Ultimately, she told her employer that she felt her condition was work related and needed to be processed through their Iowa Workers' Compensation insurance carrier.
The Claimant was referred to the employer’s Iowa Workers' Compensation physician who saw her on a couple of occasions. The employer’s chosen physician ultimately released the claimant to full duty without restrictions. Despite this full duty release, the Claimant continued to have problems and again asked for care. The employer and insurance carrier would not provide her any additional medical appointments as they stood by the position of the physician who had released her without restrictions. The employer and insurance carrier took the position that her condition had resolved, and she was not entitled to any additional benefits.
Claimant pursued care on her own through her own family physician and ultimately was referred to a surgeon. The spine surgeon determined that a back surgery was needed. At this point, G.R. contacted Pothitakis Law Firm and sought assistance. Pothitakis Law Firm initially contacted the spine surgeon and discussed with him what his opinion was as to the cause of the Claimant’s need for surgery. After obtaining information from Pothitakis Law Firm, the spine surgeon ultimately concluded that the condition was related to her work activities and was an Iowa work injury. With this new information, Pothitakis Law Firm contacted the employer and insurance carrier and asked for them to pay for the surgery and treat it as an Iowa Workers' Compensation injury. Again, the employer and insurance carrier denied this request based upon the original occupational physician’s opinion that the Claimant was released to work full duty.
At this point, the Pothitakis Law Firm filed a lawsuit against the employer and insurance carrier seeking Iowa Workers' Compensation benefits. The case was scheduled for a hearing before an Iowa Deputy Workers' Compensation Commissioner. Shortly before hearing, the employer and insurance carrier made an offer of less than $10,000 to settle the claim. Mr. Pothitakis recommended the Claimant turn down the offer and proceed to hearing. After the presentation of evidence and a hearing, the Deputy concluded the Claimant had sustained a work-related injury and obtained a Decision entitling the Claimant to benefits of approximately $90,000, plus open medical care.
This case illustrates the fact that just because an occupational physician has an opinion, does not mean that opinion is always correct. For this reason, it’s always important to discuss even Workers' Compensation claims for Iowa work injuries that have been denied with an attorney to see if legal assistance can bring justice to the claim.