From the Files of Powell and Denny
Today in “From the Files of Powell and Denny” I am reviewing a workers compensation case we handled in Madison County 20 years ago.
Our client was an employee of Third Base Sports Grill in Huntsville, AL, where she worked as a waitress. On the date in question, our client was waiting on a table where two Huntsville Police Officers were having lunch. While taking the Officers their drinks, our client slipped and fell in a puddle of water that had formed under a leaking vent and suffered a serious back injury. The fall was witnessed by the Officers and other employees, and the Police Officers called an ambulance, which took our client to Huntsville Hospital. Our client followed up with Dr. Gathier, and an MRI revealed that our client had sustained a “broad-based frontal disc bulge at L4-5 and L5-S1,” along with a “diffuse disc bulge at L3-4 associated with a right paracentral disc herniation.” Our client was given sedentary work restrictions and surgery was discussed. At this point her claim for workers’ compensation benefits was denied and our client hired our firm to assist her in her claim for Alabama workers’ compensation benefits.
What were the reasons for denying this claim was the obvious question I had when I spoke with the attorney who was representing Third Base Sports Grill, and her response shocked me. Our client’s employer claimed that (1) our client stagged the fall, (2) that the floor was dry at the time of her accident and (3) that our client was under the influence of drugs (marijuana to be specific).
We filed suit and discovery was initiated, and during depositions I found out that Third Base never asked the Police Officers about what they saw, and that the co-worker who was a witness said his view was obscured and he couldn’t see what caused the fall. When I later spoke with the Police Officers, they said that they witnessed the entire incident and that the vent was leaking and that our client slipped on the wet floor. As for their claim that our client was under the influence of marijuana, there was absolutely no evidence to support their allegations.
We tried the case and began the trial by having the two Huntsville Police Officers take the stand to testify about the incident-and there really wasn’t any real attempt by the defense attorney to dispute their testimony. We also pressed the defendant on the stand to provide any evidence that our client had smoked marijuana and was under the influence of it at the time of her job accident-and no evidence of such was provided. We also discovered that Third Base Sports Grill did not have workers compensation insurance covering their employees as required by Alabama law.
The judge went ahead and ruled that our client was permanently disabled and we were also awarded an additional 15% as a penalty for the defendant’s actions. Later we used this decision to help our client obtain her Social Security Disability benefits, but the case didn’t end there. Third Base Sports Grill filed for protection under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code and tried to totally avoid the damages they owed our client. We went to Bankruptcy Court to fight their attempt to nullify the judgment and eventually were ordered to mediate the case with a Bankruptcy Administrator and a resolution was reached.
Just because your employer says a job injury isn’t compensable doesn’t make it so, and just because they file Bankruptcy doesn’t mean you cannot still receive compensation for your injuries.
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 been selected as one of the Best Law Firms by U.S. News and World Report for each of the last 9 years, have been selected as one of Birmingham’s Top Lawyers by B-Metro Magazine for the last 5 years, have been selected by The National Advocates as one of the Top 20 Workers’ Compensation Firms (plaintiffs) and Powell and Denny, P.C.-has been selected as one of the “Best of the Best” law firms by The American Registry.
Mr. Denny is AV rated by Martindale Hubbard (the highest rating possible) and Mr. Powell has been rated as Superior by The National Registry
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