From the Files of Powell and Denny
Today’s “From the Files of Powell and Denny,” involve a workers’ compensation case we handled in Franklin County, AL around 7 years ago.
Our client was employed by Tiffin Motor Homes in Red Bay, Alabama, and one day while working on an oven to be put in a RV he felt a pull in his neck. Initially our client did not think much of it-just another pulled muscle, but when the pain did not get better he mentioned the incident to his supervisor the next morning. For two weeks he tried to see if he could just “work out the kink” in his neck, but eventually he asked to see a doctor and was sent to see Dr. Nabors in Red Bay, and after an MRI was performed, he was sent to see Dr. Aderholt in Florence, and Dr. Aderholt performed surgery to correct a herniated cervical disc.
Surgery was performed, and everything went fine-but our client continued to suffer from chronic pain. Dr. Aderhold treated our client for his pain, but eventually sent him to see Dr. Stuart Tiezen in Birmingham for psychological problems he was now facing and to Dr. Jack Denver in Birmingham for pain management.
Dr. Aderhold opined that our client had suffered a 9% permanent partial impairment rating as a result of his job injury and subsequent surgery and opined that our client could perform light duty work, but our client insisted that his pain was such that he could not perform light duty work for any significant amount of time-and Tiffin Motor Homes did not have any light duty jobs available for him. The workers’ compensation carrier discounted our client’s pain complaints and offered him $18,000.00 to settle his case, and at this point our firm was hired and we filed suit.
Dr. Denver indicated that plaintiff’s pain was genuine and that it limited his ability to stand or sit for extended periods, that our client was only averaging a few hours of sleep a night related to his pain and that our client’s ability to have a normal sex life was severely impacted. Dr. Denver gave our client an additional 5% impairment rating related solely to his chronic pain. These findings greatly helped our case-and subsequently the defendant asked if we would have our client see another doctor for an “independent” medical examination (IME). We refused to do so and they filed a Motion to Compel the evaluation and a hearing was held on their request.
At the hearing we were able to explain to Judge Dempsey in Franklin County that Alabama’s workers’ compensation laws do not mandate that the workers compensation carrier can force an injured worker to see another doctor when they don’t like what the doctor-whom they had previously authorized to provide medical care- says. Judge Dempsey agreed and our client continued treating with Dr. Jack Denver.
A trial was scheduled and mediation attempted, but the highest amount the defendant said they would pay was $32,000.00, so we prepared for trial. Shortly afterwards I was sent a CD from the defense attorney along with a letter that asked me to watch the video and let me know if it changed my mind with regards to the value of the claim.
The video was of a man who did resemble our client moving furniture from one house to another one. The truck this person was driving was our client’s truck, and the defendant thought that they had hit the jackpot; unfortunately for them-the video was of our client’ brother, who had borrowed his truck to help his son move. Once this fact was pointed out, the defendant made an offer of $150,000.00 to settle the case, with lifetime medical benefits left open, which our client accepted.
This case is a good example of how clients are not paid for the rating the A.M.A. Guideline to Permanent Impairments say about their injury (and the Guides specifically say they should not be used for workers comp cases), but rather are to be reimbursed for their permanent physical impairment-which necessarily entails their physical limitations. For seriously injured workers who are not able to return to their pre-injury jobs, the permanent partial impairment rating just isn’t a sufficient way to value the value of their claim.
Additionally, this case is a nice reminder that just because the workers compensation adjuster asks you to see another doctor for a separate evaluation does not mean that you have to agree to do it. They are not wanting to have you evaluated to another doctor out of the goodness of their heart.
If you have suffered a work injury and you have questions about your right to Alabama workers’ compensation benefits, don’t hesitate to contact Powell and Denny and speak with one of the experienced workers compensation lawyers and schedule a free consultation and let us see if we can help. Appointments are available in person, or virtually through Zoom for your convenience from wherever you live.
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Alabama Workers’ Compensation Attorneys
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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 and included in the list as one of the Mid-South’s Super Lawyers.
Mr. Denny is AV rated by Martindale Hubbard (the highest rating possible) and Mr. Powell has been rated as Superior by The National Registry
+ 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