Pothitakis Law Firm represents L.R., a gentleman who sustained an injury in 2009 while working for a national building supply chain. L.R. sustained an injury to his leg. The Defendant Workers' Compensation insurance carrier and Defendant Employer argued that the injury was only to the leg and did not extend beyond the leg.
L.R.’s doctors indicated that the injury was beyond the leg and included Complex Regional Pain Syndrome. Complex Regional Pain Syndrome is a condition that results in excruciating pain and discomfort that emanates from the nervous system. Whether the injury was just to the leg or included Complex Regional Pain Syndrome was extremely important in determining the value of the award. If the injury was solely to the leg, L.R. would be entitled to benefits based upon the loss of use of the leg or impairment rating associated with the leg. For example, if L.R. had a 10% impairment to his leg, he would be entitled to 10% of 220 weeks (the legislature’s placed value on the entire leg) or 22 weeks of Workers' Compensation benefits. In this example and in L.R.’s case, it would amount to approximately $10,000. If the injury were beyond the leg and included the body as a whole as a result of the Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, L.R. would be entitled to benefits based upon how the injury affected L.R.’s ability to work.
As a result of the injury, L.R. had limitations that affected the length of time he could stand and walk. Further, he had some limitations in terms of lifting. Despite these limitations, L.R. was able to maintain his employment based upon accommodations or modifications to his job made by the employer. At hearing, Pothitakis Law Firm argued that L.R. was 100% disabled and that the only reason he was able to work anywhere was because the employer made some significant changes to a regular job to keep him working. The Defendants contended that the L.R. had a limited loss as he was still working making a significant salary despite his work-related injury.
At hearing, the Deputy Workers' Compensation Commissioner found in favor of L.R. The Deputy found that L.R. had sustained an injury beyond his leg and to his body as a whole. Further, the Deputy found that L.R. had sustained a 100% loss of his ability to earn money despite the fact that he was still working. This resulted in L.R. being awarded a permanent total disability. The award entitles L.R. to lifetime weekly benefits.
Based upon L.R.’s age of 49 years old, L.R. has a life expectancy of almost 32 years. The value of the award on a present value basis to L.R. is approximately $600,000.
Pothitakis Law Firm anticipates an appeal and will vigorously defend the case as far as necessary so that L.R. can receive his award. This case illustrates that injuries to extremities are not always minor injuries and not always limited to small amounts of compensation. It is important to always have claims evaluated by competent Iowa Workers' Compensation attorneys as there are complexities of the law that result in significant awards to injured workers.