From the Files of Powell and Denny
Today in “From the Files of Powell and Denny” I am discussing a workers compensation case that we tried in Montgomery, Alabama twenty years ago.
Our client worked for Woolard Brothers, Inc., out of Montgomery, as a laborer hanging sheetrock, metal studs and doing ceiling work. Our client did not have much in terms of education and he was functionally illiterate-but he was good at his job and he worked faithfully for Woolard Brothers for 12 years before suffering a job injury.
Our client sustained a bilateral hernia one day while lifting a box of ceiling tiles. Our client was sent to Dr. Michael Hammer, and our client underwent three separate surgeries for his bilateral hernias, but unfortunately developed neuropathic pain and ended up being referred to Dr. Jack Denver-a specialist in Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation and Pain Medicine. Dr. Denver had our client undergo work hardening in order to try and get his ready to return to work, but during therapy our client suffered a torn meniscus to his knee and had to undergo a fourth surgery. Eventually our client did recover from his latest injury and he was placed at maximum medial improvement (mmi)-but he was limited to light duty work for up to 4 hours a day, with the requirement of a 5-minute break every 30 minutes.
To us, these restrictions obviously meant that our client was entitled to total disability benefits, but Woolard Brothers stated that they could accommodate our client’s serious physical limitations-so our client attempted to return to work, but unfortunately he was asked to do heavier work than advised and his condition deteriorated to the point where the pain was causing our client to suffer psychological problems-for which we ensured he received medical treatment for through workers compensation.
Eventually Woolard Brothers fired out client, but they argued that he really could work a full-time job. After a full day trial in front of Judge Price, the Court issued a Final Order stating our client was disabled and entitled to permanent total disability benefits, but then something very strange occurred. Five weeks later- the court signed another Final Order saying that our client was only 97% disabled and therefore he was not entitled to permanent total disability benefits. We filed an appeal of this second Order.
On appeal we argued that there cannot be two “Final” orders and that once the judge signed the initial order, he lost the ability to make any drastic changes to outcome of the trial without sufficient cause-and there was nothing new admitted into evidence after our trial had finished. There were several legal arguments that we made, but at the end the Court of Civil Appeals agreed with us and reinstated the initial order finding our client to be entitled to permanent total disability benefits-which included lifetime medial care for his physical and psychological injuries. Moreover, we used the Court’s Order finding our client to be permanently disabled in his claim for Social Security Disability benefits and we were successful in helping him obtain his disability benefits as well.
If you have suffered a work injury and have questions about your right to Alabama Workers’ Compensation benefits-or to Social Security Disability benefits-don’t hesitate to contact Powell and Denny and speak with one of the experienced workers compensation and disability lawyers and schedule a free consultation. Appointments are available in person, or virtually through Zoom for your convenience from wherever you live.
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+ Powell and Denny have successfully represented injured workers from Birmingham, Huntsville, Florence, Muscle Shoals, Tuscumbia, Athens, Decatur, Town Creek Ardmore, Hartselle, Madison, Toney, Scottsboro, Ft. Payne, New Hope, Guntersville, Albertville, Boaz, Ashville, Anniston, Gadsden, Cullman, Jasper, Gardendale, Morris, Kimberly, Centerpoint, Leeds, Tarrant City, Fairfield, Hueytown, Bessemer, Adger, Tuscaloosa, Cordova, Alabaster, Pelham, Harpersville, Opelika, Phenix City, Montgomery, Clanton, Calera, Enterprise, Monroeville, Mobile, Evergreen, Alabaster, Pelham, Trussville and towns and cities in between.
From the Files of Powell and Denny