The Law Office of James M. Hoffmann recently settled a case for an injured Missouri concrete worker.
A Missouri concrete worker suffered a December 1, 2004 on the job knee injury. The employee was working for a concrete company when he slipped off of a porch and injured his right knee.
The Employer/Insurer provided care through Dr. Haupt who performed surgery on 12/20/04 including debridement of areas of chondromalacia, lateral meniscus meniscectomy, and a closed lateral release. Dr. Haupt released the worker on or about 5/17/05 alleging MMI with 8% disability due to the work injury of 12/1/04 and an additional 37% disability preexisting 12/1/04 due to a 1994 knee injury. The employee was working without restrictions or pain prior to the injury.
The employee then received treatment on his own from Dr. Lawrence G. Evans. Dr. Evans’ recommendation for additional surgery was declined by the employer. As a result, the Law Office of James M. Hoffmann proceeded with a Hardship Hearing. Dr. Evans testified that the employee’s ongoing problems and need for additional care was related to the injury of 12/1/04, as the employee’s knee was asymptomatic prior to the 12/1/04 injury. Additionally, the fall was significant due to swelling and bruising noted in the Washington Hospital emergency room records of 12/2/04. The Employer/Insurer obtained medical opinions through Dr. Haupt and Dr. Lehman who opined that the disability was preexisting and that the 12/1/04 injury was not the substantial factor in the employee’s need for ongoing care.
Following a Hardship Hearing, the Missouri workers compensation judge issued a hardship award authorizing additional care per the testimony of Dr. Evans, who eventually performed a knee replacement. However, following the surgery, the injured worker suffered nerve issues, or some type of neuropathy, in the area of the knee.
Without a request from the employee, the Employer/Insurer terminated Dr. Evans care and referred the employee to Dr. Lehman (who testified at the hardship that the need for further care was not work related). Dr. Lehman issued a report saying that employee has suffered the neuropathy issue his entire life and the condition was not exacerbated or altered by his work injury. Our client disputed the notes of Dr. Lehman as he did not suffer from any type of nerve or other neuropathy issues prior to the incident, was very active in high school athletics, and did not suffer from any type of neuropathy issues until after the knee replacement surgery.
As it turns out, Dr. Lehman misinterpreted the nerve conduction study of Dr. Phillips.
The employer/insurer scheduled the deposition of Dr. Phillips. However, after meeting with Dr. Phillips prior to the deposition, the employer/insurer cancelled. Dr. Phillips then issued a letter report stating that employee’s nerve injury was related either to the injury or to compression from the knee replacement surgery.
The Law Office of James M. Hoffmann filed another hardship. Per a mutual agreement and the court’s recommendation, the employee was examined by Dr. Lux. He issued a report relating to nerve problems to compression caused by the knee replacement surgery. However, the employer/insurer refused to accept Dr. Lux’s recommendation. After another Hardship request was filed with the court, the employer/insurer agreed to send Randy to Dr. Hagan.
Dr. Hagan related the injury to compression from the knee replacement and performed surgery to correct. However, approximately 2 and ½ years had passed since the compression issues started. The surgery was not helpful and the client’s symptoms worsened.
The employer’s position was that if the employee is permanently and totally disabled it is due to the combination of the prior knee fracture in 1994 in combination with the primary injury of 2004. In other words, the second injury fund should pay for permanent total disability and not the employer.
The employee’s wage range and hours were low. Despite this, on the eve of trial the employer/insurer agreed to pay the full value of a permanent total disability claim. Using a 3.5% discount rate and a life expectancy of 30 years, the present value of a future stream of weekly payments is $250,000. The employer/insurer has agreed to pay the lump sum of $250,000 plus provide medical care for life for employee’s knee injury.
Why did the employer/insurer settle?
During a deposition Attorney James Hoffmann asked one of the employer/insurer doctors,
How much of the knee that was damaged from the 1994 injury was removed during the knee replacement surgery?”
The doctor replied that it was all removed. Thus, any ongoing problems were related the nerve compression issue caused by the knee replacement surgery and no ongoing issues were caused by the 1994 injury as all of the damaged bone had been removed.
Law Office of James M. Hoffmann
If you have experienced a work related injury, contact St. Louis Workers’ Compensation Attorney James M. Hoffmann. Mr. Hoffmann can put over 20 years of experience defending the rights of injured Missouri workers to work for you and your family. To schedule a free and private consultation call us today at (314) 361-4300 or contact us online.