Pothitakis Law Firm was contacted by R.P. with respect to an injury that he sustained in early 2015. On that date, R.P. was performing his work for a local steel manufacturing facility. While moving a large piece of steel, the steel part came back towards him. As it came towards him he pushed away from it with both his right and left arms. R.P. felt pain and discomfort in both of his arms as a result of the incident. R.P. immediately reported the matter to his supervisor and to plant personnel. He was driven to the hospital that same day by his employer. The x-rays that were completed at that time did not show any significant damage.
Approximately a month after the injury, the workers’ compensation insurance carrier denied the claim saying that the explanation of the injury did not fit with the facts of the investigation completed by the employer. At that time, February of 2015, the workers’ compensation insurance carrier and employer denied the claim and informed R.P. that all future medical care would be at his own expense. The workers’ compensation insurance carrier also indicated that they would not be providing any weekly workers’ compensation benefits. This resulted in a significant hardship and financial disaster for R.P. R.P. contacted the Pothitakis Law Firm for assistance. At the direction of Pothitakis Law Firm, R.P. sought care on his own through a local orthopedic surgeon. That orthopedic surgeon determined that surgery was necessary with respect to both the right shoulder, right elbow and left shoulder. R.P. was ultimately released with a permanent 10-pound lifting restriction.
In order to prove the case, R.P.’s counsel obtained detailed medical opinions from R.P.’s orthopedic surgeon. The orthopedic surgeon confirmed that the work injury is what resulted in R.P.’s condition and need for surgery on his shoulders. R.P.’s counsel further obtained the services of a vocational expert so that she could provide opinions about how R.P.’s injury and restrictions would affect his ability to work in the future. This expert for Pothitakis Law Firm concluded that R.P. would not be able to return to most of his past relevant employment positions. Pothitakis Law Firm scheduled and took a number of depositions of co-employees of R.P.. Pothitakis Law Firm was able to establish that the mechanism of the injury as described by R.P. was consistent with the way the steel would move on a hoist.
After reviewing all of the evidence, the deputy agreed with Pothitakis Law Firm that the injury had occurred and that R.P. was left with a significant disability as a result of the injury. The fact that R.P. had two significant shoulder injuries that required surgery resulted in a significant impact on R.P.’s ability to work and earn a living. Given R.P.’s age of 56 years old and his high school education, R.P.’s right and left shoulder injuries and restrictions would significantly limit his ability to find employment. The deputy workers’ compensation commissioner ordered the Defendants to pay weekly workers’ compensation benefits for the year that R.P. was off of work and undergoing medical treatment. The judge ordered the Defendants to pay a 65% industrial disability which entitled the Claimant to over 6 years of benefits into the future. Further, the judge awarded the Defendants to pay all medical expenses.
The award totaled well over $300,000. Prior to hearing the Defendants were so confident in their position that they made no reasonable offer of settlement on the claim. Pothitakis Law Firm is now awaiting to see if the Defendants appeal the decision.
As illustrated in this decision, it is important for injured workers to seek assistance with claims from an experienced Iowa workers’ compensation attorney so that they can investigate, obtain evidence, and obtain medical opinions that support the claim in the face of a denial of by an insurance company.