Pothitakis Law Firm represented C.J. with respect to a workers’ compensation injury to his right and left feet. The claim was based upon him getting some steel shavings in his boots that resulted in some infections and difficulties with his right and left feet. As a result of the injury and infections, C.J. underwent extensive debridement and surgical intervention on his feet. Under the Iowa Workers’ Compensation law, an injury to the lower extremities results in a permanency entitlement that is simply based upon the impairment rating. It is very limiting and not a significant amount of money – regardless of whether it has a significant impact on the future of ability of the injured worker to maintain his employment. There are ways that can be used to try to increase the value of a claim such as this. One of those ways is to pursue what is called a Second Injury Fund claim. A Second Injury Fund claim is based upon having a prior condition with arms, hands, legs, feet or eyes, that when combined with the current work injury causes some level of disability or impact on the worker’s ability to perform labor. The prior injury does not have to be work related. With respect to C.J., he had previously had an injury to one of his feet and for that reason, a claim was made against the Second Injury Fund. Another way to obtain benefits beyond the payment of a small impairment rating for both feet is if those feet result in some body as a whole injury. With respect to C.J., because he was limping from the foot injuries, he started having hip and back pain. The Pothitakis Law Firm alleged a claim based upon a back condition related to the feet injury. If proven, this also could result in an award based upon how the injury affects the claimant’s ability to work as opposed to a simple math computation for an impairment rating. The case proceeded to hearing in 2021 and a decision was entered by the deputy workers’ compensation commissioner finding that the Claimant had a 60% loss of future earning capacity as a result of the new foot injuries and the preexisting foot injury. Pothitakis Law Firm felt that a more appropriate analysis would include the low back condition with the claim, which could result in considerable additional funds. Pothitakis Law Firm filed a notice of appeal to the Iowa Worker’s Compensation Commissioner. After submitting extensive arguments and briefs, the Iowa Worker’s Compensation Commissioner revised the prior decision with an appeal decision which granted the claimant benefits associated with a 75% loss of earning capacity. The Iowa Worker’s Compensation Commissioner found that the deputy workers’ compensation commissioner’s decision was wrong and that the claimant’s low back condition was permanently impacted because of the claimant’s foot injuries. Pothitakis Law Firm was extremely satisfied and excited the appeal decision. Shortly after the appeal decision, the defendant insurance company and employer reached out and offered to resolve the claim for a significant amount that is confidential. The claim was ultimately resolved by settlement after this appeal decision.
Pothitakis Law Firm pursued this claim for in excess of three and a half years. Mr. Pothitakis conferenced with the claimant’s doctors and obtained reports over those years to put the claimant in the best position to obtain a favorable result at hearing. When the initial decision was inappropriate, Pothitakis Law Firm filed an appeal and was successful on that appeal.