On December 19, 2011, Pothitakis Law Firm received a Decision in a case that had been pending since February of 2011. The complexity and size of the file apparently contributed to the delay in the issuance of the Decision.
The Claimant had sustained an injury in 2009 while working for one of the largest companies in the United States. He sustained an injury to his low back. After receiving care from the company authorized physician for approximately a year and a half, the Workers' Compensation insurance carrier indicated that it was their intention to stop paying benefits as they felt the Claimant’s injury had resolved. The insurance company took the position that no more care or benefits were owed.
As the battle was commencing, the Pothitakis Law Firm decided that additional medical care was needed to identify the injury as well as the permanency associated with the injury. The Pothitakis Law Firm sent the Claimant to a Functional Capacity Evaluation with a therapist to determine at what levels he could or could not perform work. Further, the Pothitakis Law Firm sent the Claimant to a board certified orthopaedic surgeon for an Independent Medical Examination. The Functional Capacity Evaluation was found to be valid and the orthopaedic surgeon found that the Claimant had sustained a permanent injury to his low back resulting in a 13% whole person impairment. Further, the board certified orthopaedic surgeon set forth permanent lifting restrictions associated with the condition.
The insurance carrier and employer sent the Claimant through an independent medical examination, and that physician provided an opinion that the Claimant’s work injury had resolved. The insurance carrier and employer asked for a mediation, which was held. The mediation was an attempt to try and resolve the claim. At the mediation, the employer and insurance carrier offered approximately $20,000 to close out the claim and end the Claimant’s entitlement to any additional benefits.
After discussion and consultation with Pothitakis Law Firm the offer of settlement was turned down and the parties proceed to hearing before an Iowa Deputy Workers' Compensation Commissioner. The Deputy Workers' Compensation Commissioner entered a Decision and found that the Claimant was entitled to benefits amounting to just shy of $200,000. The Deputy Workers' Compensation Commissioner accepted the opinion of the doctors chose by Pothitakis Law Firm, P.C., over the Defendant’s physicians.
As the Defendants are very unhappy with the Decision, they have filed an Appeal to the Iowa Workers' Compensation Commissioner. The parties are currently briefing the issue.
This case illustrates the importance of fully prosecuting claims through hearing and appeal if necessary to obtain what is fair and just for Claimants. The Pothitakis Law Firm prides itself on going the distance to make sure that an unreasonable offer of settlement is turned down and the Claimant receives maximum recovery for his injury.