While working for the Employer, Claimant was entering a transport van. The step was abnormally high and made getting into the van difficult for Claimant. As a result, Claimant lost her balance and fell backwards out of the van landing on her back.
Recent trial award for injured employee. The trial judge ruled that Claimant’s work injury, back surgery, chronic back pain, leg weakness, leg numbness, and daily pain medications, were all caused by the work-related accident. Further, the court ruled that Employer is liable for unpaid TTD benefits totaling $14,512.32; The Employer shall pay PTD of $403.12 weekly beginning September 26, 2008 (back perm total benefits of approximately $80,000.00) and then $403. 12 thereafter for the life of Claimant (over $600,000.00 in future benefits over Claimant’s life expectancy); and that should Claimant pass away from any cause, Claimant’s PTD benefits shall be paid to her spouse, as a dependent of Claimant, weekly and for the remainder of his life; and Employer shall cover all future medical expenses related to the treatment of Claimant’s back pain and all future medical expenses relating to orthopedic treatment to her back injury (such as, for example, future removal of hardware; fusion revision, surgery above or below the fusion due to additional wear/tear caused by the fusion, as medically necessary).
Claimant had worked for Employer for 12 years. Her job duties as a storekeeper were physically demanding. Claimant worked 8 hour shifts. Claimant lifted supplies, furniture, and boxes weighing up to 25 pounds. Claimed took inventory and stocked shelves. Each day Claimant delivered multiple 40lb stacks of food trays.
While working for the Employer, Claimant was entering a transport van. The step was abnormally high and made getting into the van difficult for Claimant. As a result, Claimant lost her balance and fell backwards out of the van landing on her back. She immediately felt back pain and leg numbness.
Claimant was transferred by St. Francis County Ambulance to Parkland Health Center. X-rays showed spondylolisthesis at L3 on L4.
The authorized treating physician began treatment. He prescribed Vicodin and physical therapy. He obtained an MRI which showed spondylolisthesis on L3 and L4 causing bilateral stenosis. He recommended a referral to a spine surgeon at that time. His office notes specifically state “no work, Dr. XXXX, Tylenol with Codeine.” He signed a Family Medical Leave authorization for Claimant stating that Claimant is “unable to work/do her job” and specifically related her disability to her back injury. Claimant has not worked since October 23, 2007.
Claimant was referred to Dr. XXXXX at Gateway Spine. He performed a L3-4 fusion. The procedure required two surgeries. Claimant was fused from both an anterior and a posterior approach. Attached to the deposition of Dr. XXXX is a color illustration, obtained by Employee’s attorney, showing the hardware in Claimant’s back.
Claimant testified that she is unable to work solely due to her back pain caused by the fall. She takes several Vicodin a day prescribed by her primary care physician. Prior to the accident, Claimant did not have any back pain and enjoyed mowing the lawn, planting in her flower garden, a vegetable garden, raising chickens, and playing with her grandchild. Now, due to her back pain, she is unable to raise chickens, garden, and can only sit and watch her grandchild. Claimant has permanent restrictions with respect to lifting, bending, and twisting. She has difficulty getting dressed and is unable to use the bath tub because of her back injury.
Claimant testified that she lays down each day due to back pain. The back pain also wakes her at night. She also continues to suffer from numbness and weakness with respect to her legs. Activities such as washing dishes and vacuuming substantially increase her back pain. She can no longer move furniture at home to clean and is limited with all cleaning activities at home.
Dr. YYYY, medical IME, and Tim GGGG, vocational rehabilitation expert, examined Claimant at the request of Claimant’s attorney. Both opined that Claimant is permanently and totally disabled as a result of her back injury.