The Claimant, W.D., contacted us concerning an injury that he sustained in June of 2010, while working for a local manufacturing company. The Claimant sustained an injury to his right arm as a result of repetitive work activities. Over time, the Claimant developed pain and discomfort in his right upper extremity as a result of performing his work. The Claimant underwent a surgical procedure on his right elbow and was given a 14% impairment. Based on this impairment rating, the Claimant was entitled to 35 weeks of benefits or approximately $15,000. The employer paid these funds to the Claimant.
In meeting with W.D., Pothitakis Law Firm determined that the employer was not obligated to pay any additional funds but there might be a way to obtain additional funds via a Second Injury Fund claim. An injured employee is eligible to pursue a Second Injury Fund claim if they previously had an injury to another arm, hand, leg, foot or eye. After reviewing the Claimant’s medical records, Pothitakis Law Firm determined that they could pursue a Second Injury Fund claim based upon a fractured arm that the Claimant had sustained when he was a child. It should be noted that at the time of hearing, the Claimant was in his 60’s.
Although the fractured arm when he was a child was not surgically repaired, the Claimant had suffered from intermittent problems with his the left upper extremity. Claimant’s counsel filed a Second Injury Fund claim against the State of Iowa and sought additional benefits. Shortly before trial, the State of Iowa contacted Claimant’s counsel and indicated that they would offer $500 to settle the case. They indicated that it was their opinion that the claim had little or no value and they were willing to pay $500 simply for the matter to go away so that they wouldn’t have to spend their time defending the same.
Pothitakis Law Firm arranged a second opinion with a physician to evaluate both the right and left upper extremities. Pothitakis Law Firm also had the Claimant undergo a functional capacity evaluation to test his capabilities and Pothitakis Law Firm also had a vocational expert evaluate his abilities to obtain work given his upper extremity limitation.
Upon the advice of counsel, W.D. rejected the $500 offer and proceeded to hearing. At hearing, the Claimant was found to be permanently and totally disabled as a result of his old left arm fracture from when he was a child combined with his new right elbow injury. This award resulted in the Claimant being entitled to in excess of $500,000 on a present value basis.
Second Injury Fund claims are difficult but need to be investigated as they can be significantly valuable.