Case Results


RECENT WORKERS COMPENSATION CASE RESULTS

Porter Verdict Report

Workers Compensation Settlement $130,000 Back Injury

The employee, a 52-year-old roofer, fell approximately 15 feet from a roof sustaining numerous and serious permanent injuries. He was diagnosed with a burst fracture of a lumbar vertebra. His employer, a roofing subcontractor, did not carry workers compensation insurance (uninsured) requiring the employee to file a direct claim against the general contractor for the job. The general contractor denied the subcontractor's employee was entitled to any workers compensation because the employee was intoxication when he fell from the roof. The general contractor argued under section 27 of the Massachusetts Workers Compensation Statute (MGL c. 152), serious and willful employee misconduct of an employee was an absolute defense to workers compensation benefits.

The employees claim was initially denied at conference and in appeal was filed. The employee was examined by in impartial physician from the Department of Industrial Accidents who found the employee permanently and totally disabled.

The case settled at hearing before the employee and the insurer's expert toxicologists testified. The insurer was also prepared to introduce videotaped surveillance of the employee depicting his physical activities.

An important aspect of this settlement was the payment of future medical bills. The settlement negotiated was "with liability" requiring the insurer to pay all future medical treatment provided treatment was reasonable, medically necessary and causally related to the accident.

A claim was also filed for Social Security benefits resulting an award of SSDI benefits.

Workers Compensation Settlement $125,000, Bilateral Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Long-term (32 years) factory worker developed carpal tunnel syndrome requiring surgery on each wrist. Following surgery the employee unsuccessfully attempted to return to light duty work. A claim for workers compensation benefits was filed after the workers compensation insurer denied benefits claiming the employees carpal tunnel syndrome was not related to his work activities. A conference was held before an administrative judge at the Department of industrial accidents resulting in an award of temporary total disability benefits.

This claim was eventually settled for a number of reasons namely, the employees age (64), the receipt of his pension and social security benefits.

Workers Compensation Settlement $115,000 Wrist and Shoulder Injuries

This case involves an employee who sustained two separate injuries on two different dates. On the first date the employee sustained an injury to his wrist after tripping over a welding lead. The workers comp insurer paid medical bills only as the employee continue to work light duty after the incident.

While working light duty he sustained a second injury to his shoulder when staging he was standing on collapsed. Between the first and second accident his employer changed workers compensation insurer's. Both insurers claimed the other insurer was responsible to pay weekly disability benefits following the second accident.

Because neither insurer would accept liability for either injury claims against each insurer were filed. At conference and administrative judge found one insurer liable for the employee's shoulder injury and the other insurer liable for the employee's wrist injury. Weekly disability benefits were also ordered.

This case was somewhat novel in that at the time of his injuries, the employee was working full-time full duty, despite having sustained a 75% loss of use of his non-injured shoulder. (previous workers compensation injury). That case was settled approximately 7 years earlier by my office. During settlement negotiations I argued when determining the extent of the employee's future earning capacity the insurers must consider all of the employee's medical conditions including, his prior shoulder injury.

At the employee's request two settlements totaling $115,000 were reached prior to hearing. This particular employee, notwithstanding all of his injuries, was extremely motivated to return to work. The settlements required each insurer to pay future medical treatment related to their respective industrial accidents. The settlement also allowed the employee to seek the services of the Office of Education and Vocational Rehabilitation (OEVR) at the Department of Industrial Accidents. If found suitable OEVR will assist an injured worker with finding new employment and/or retraining.

Workers Compensation Settlement $130,000, Thoracic Spine Injury (Disc Protrusion)

A 45-year-old maintenance man injured his thoracic spine while torquing a wrench beneath a sink. Thoracic spine injuries are particularly difficult injuries to treat. Many orthopedic surgeons will not perform surgery on a person's thoracic spine. The result is an injured employee who must deal with chronic pain which, in turn, prevents him/her from returning to their former physical job. In this case, the injured worker was found suitable for OEVR services. With the assistance of OEVR this employee received retraining which in turn allowed him to change occupations.

Workers Compensation Settlement $191,240.00 Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

Forty Five year old landscaper run over by coworker sustained multiple injuries including fractured ribs, collapsed lungs and a traumatic brain injury. The TBI caused him significant problems including memory loss, difficulty concentration, and multi-tasking. An impartial physician appointed by the Department of Industrial Accidents determined that he was permanently and totally disabled.

This case settled with liability for all injuries requiring the workers compensation insurer to pay all future medical treatment that is reasonable and related to the employee's industrial injuries.

Of significance this injured worker had a prior attorney who he felt was not adequately representing his interests. His prior attorney attempted to settle his claim for $50,000 "without liability". He fired this attorney. Settling his claim without establishing "liability" would have made the injured worker responsible for future medical treatment.

Maintenance Worker sustained thoracic disc protrusion settled $130,000.00

40 year old high school graduate injured his mid back while torquing a wrench beneath a sink.

He returned to work only to re-injured himself after slipping on ice. Despite medical treatment, including a work hardening program his injury prevented him from returning to his occupation. The employee is currently enrolled in a vocational rehabilitation program which has been approved by the Department of Industrial Accidents.

Lacerated Ulnar Nerve with Neuroma settled $65,000.00

30 year old window cleaner lacerated his ulnar nerve when a window he was washing broke on his forearm. The employee continued to work until surgery to repair the nerve. Following surgery the employee went on to develop a neuroma which required additional surgery.

A claim for workers compensation benefits was filed and, after conference, the employee was awarded temporary total disability benefits. His claim settled after he had almost exhausted his temporary total disability benefits ( 3 years).

$ 605,000.00  Workers Compensation Settlement:

Bank Manager with hand injury develops Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS/ RSD)

37 year old woman, college graduate, sustained two relatively minor traumatic insults to her right hand in 2003.  The first involved striking a safe door with her hand and the second involved striking her hand on a cash box.  Her treatment was initially conservative and notwithstanding the employee’s best efforts, she went on to develop chronic pain due to a condition known as Complex Regional Pain Syndrome.   Initially, her symptoms were limited to her right hand  however,  over a relatively short period of time her symptoms spread  up her arm and then throughout her entire body.

The employee was paid  workers compensation temporary total disability benefits for three year(state maximum period) as allowed by Massachusetts workers compensation law.   After she exhausted her temporary total disability benefits a claim for permanent and total disability benefits was filed.  The insurer vigorously defended this claim.  At conference an Order of Payment awarding Permanent and Total Disability was made by an Administrative Judge.  The insurer appealed but, later withdrew its appeal prior to a full blown evidentiary hearing.

Because of the medical complexity of this case several medical expert depositions were conducted.  Before the depositions could be conducted countless hours of medical research were needed in order to one, to understand Complex Regional Pain Syndrome and two, determine how CRPS affected the employee’s ability to return to work.  Also, countless hours were spent coordinating medical treatment for the employee who eventually, went on to require 24-7 medical care.  Through our efforts the employee’s house was made handicap accessible.

The settlement requires the insurer to pay for all future medical treatment related to her CRPS condition.  The settlement included the maximum amount  payable under Massachusetts law for loss of function.  It also included a
($ 30,000.00) one time payment for the purchase of a handicap vehicle.

The settlement of $ 605,000.00 is one of the largest workers compensation settlements ever presented at the Worcester Department of Industrial Accidents.  Impressed with the complexity of the settlement terms the Administrative Law Judge hearing the settlement suggested I present a seminar to attorney’s practicing  before the Industrial Accident Board.

The employee also filed and awarded Social Security Disability  Insurance (SSDI) Benefits.

$ 300,000.00 Workers Compensation Settlement

Carpenter sustains brain injury following fall from ladder.  Major Depressive Disorder, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

45 year old carpenter fell 13 feet after his ladder slipped on ice.  Among his numerous injuries the employee sustained a left frontal fracture of his sinuses, a small subarachnoid hemorrhage and a 4th Nerve Palsy (brain injury).  Notwithstanding outstanding treatment at MGH/Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, neuropsychological counseling the employee’s brain injury left him with chronic dizziness, headaches, double vision, memory and inability to perform complex tasks.  Due to his lack of recovery and inability to return to his former occupation the employee developed depression.  He was also diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

The settlement required the insurer to pay for all future medical treatment related to industrial injuries.   Its worth noting under Massachusetts  law an injured employee is not compensated for pain and suffering.

$ 273,000.00 Workers Compensation Settlement

Hotel Night Auditor slips in bathroom aggravates preexisting back condition resulting in low back fusion.

Ten weeks prior to her industrial injury the employee had undergone lumbar fusion with a bone allograft  following a non work related motor vehicle accident  she had in the early 1990’s.   Her fall at work caused a malunion of the lumbar  fusion resulting in three additional low back surgeries and chronic low back pain.

The insurer initially accepted her claim as work related however, when the employee injured her knees performing physical therapy for her back it denied her claim.  A claim was filed for the employee alleging the employee’s knee injuries were related to her back injury.  After conference and evidentiary hearing an administrative judge found the employee’s knee injuries indeed, were causally related to her bathroom slip and fall accident.

A claim for permanent and total disability was also filed and successful.

The settlement paid the employee 940 weeks of future permanent and total disability benefits.  Her settlement, along with her monthly Social Security Disability (SSDI) Benefits, effectively provided monthly income to the employee until age 65. At age 65 the employee would be entitled to Social Security(old age) benefits.

$ 105 ,000.00 Workers Compensation Settlement

41 year old stone mason/laborer attempts to return to work ("modified" duty") while still injured aggravates preexisting work injury.

A landscape laborer/mason suffered multiple injuries to his low back while working for his employer over a 12 year period.   After initially sustaining a herniated lumbar disc several years earlier he underwent low back surgery.  Following surgery his employer offered him light duty, modified work.   In reality,  the new job was his old job under a different title.  It was not long after his return to "modified" work that he reinjured himself.   His orthopedic surgeon recommended surgery which the employee opted to forgo.

Following his reinjury the workers compensation insurer accepted his workers compensation claim and he began receiving temporary total disability benefits.  Under Massachusetts law an injured employee can receive temporary total disability benefits ( 60% of his average weekly wage) for a total of three years.  Following the employee’s decision not to have surgery and following the insurers "independent medical examine" (IME) a claim for permanent and total disability was filed.   Permanent and total disability is a benefit the injured employee can receive in many circumstances Prior hearing the employee agreed to settle his case.

RECENT PERSONAL INJURY, MOTOR VEHICLE ACCIDENT CASES

Motorcycle rider neck and shoulder surgery Settled $245,000.00

57 year old retired police officer struck by car that failed to stop at stop sign. Notwithstanding low speed accident client developed radicular symptoms in his arm. An MRI revealed a herniated cervical disc and degenerative disc disease as well as a torn rotator cuff.

The at fault party had $250,000.00 of available bodily injury insurance. The client opted to settle his claim rather than proceed with a time consuming trial.

$1,010,000.00 Judgment after  jury trial in Barnstable Superior Court

41 Year old tow truck driver rear-ended by elderly woman sustains whiplash injury aggravated neck arthritis required neck fusion.

Plaintiff, a self employed tow truck operator, was rear-ended by an elderly woman on Route 6 Provincetown Massachusetts.  The plaintiff had been call to the scene by the Provincetown Police to remove a motor vehicle disabled in a snow drift.  Before plaintiff could winch the disabled vehicle out of the snow bank he was rear-ended by the defendant who argued she  acted reasonably in attempting to  get off the roadway when her windshield fogged up.  The impact caused a whiplash neck injury.  The plaintiff did not respond to conservative treatment and  he ultimately underwent a C3-4 fusion at the Cape Cod Hospital.

The plaintiff had approximately $54,000 in medical bills and no claim for lost wages.

The defendant hired two expert witnesses to testify at trial.  The first, a biomedical engineer, was prepared to testify the plaintiff’s neck was not injured in the accident.  A motion precluding that opinion was filed and allowed as essentially being non-scientific.   The defendant hired a second expert, a neurologist, who performed as medical records review.  He testified the accident did not cause an injury to the C3-4 disc and that the plaintiff had a disability that lasted approximately nine months.   On cross examination the defendant’s expert neurologist admitted he was paid by the defense attorney to offer his opinion.  He admitted, rather reluctantly, he performs weekly medical evaluations for both plaintiff and defendant attorneys… all for a fee.

At the close of the case the jury deliberated for approximately three hours before rendering a verdict in the amount of $ 818,000.00.  With prejudgment interest the total judgment was in excess of $1,010,000.00.