The Claimant was employed performing heavy production work for a steel company. His work required him to use his upper extremities including use of air hammers and grinders. While performing his work, the Claimant began having pain and discomfort in both of his arms and shoulders.
The Claimant reported the problems but did not seek any care for several months. The Claimant was hoping that his condition would get better and that he had just sustained a minor strain. The Claimant did not get better and ultimately had to seek medical care. Medical care was obtained by a local orthopaedic surgeon who performed multiple surgeries on the Claimant’s elbows and shoulder.
Pothitakis Law Firm was asked to assist in the valuation of the claim. The Claimant’s ultimate entitlement was based on how his injury affected his ability to work and earn money. The legal term is “industrial disability.” Pothitakis Law Firm assisted the Claimant by obtaining a second opinion examination from a physician who evaluated the Claimant’s injury as well as his impairment and restrictions. Pothitakis Law Firm also contacted the Claimant’s treating doctors to obtain opinions supportive of the limitations that the Claimant would face in the future as a result of his injuries.
In late 2011, the parties went before a Deputy Workers' Compensation Commissioner and presented their case. A decision was entered in early 2012 awarding the Claimant a significant industrial disability. This was all despite the fact that the Claimant who had continued working for the employer was earning a higher hourly wage after his injury. Not happy with the Decision, the Workers' Compensation Insurance Company filed an appeal asking that the Decision be reduced. Pothitakis Law Firm assisted the Claimant on filing briefs supporting the Decision, and asking the judge to deny the appeal. Unfortunately, the appeal took over one year to be decided. In April of 2013, the appeal was decided in favor of the Claimant. The Decision resulted in a significant award.
This case illustrates that simply because an injured employee is able to return to work and earn a similar or higher wage does not mean that the claim has no value. The fact that the Claimant had to work with significant pain and was unable to accept or take on as much overtime as he previously had undertaken were significant factors resulting in a significant award.