Sep 09, 2012 |
$150,000 for Plumber Who Suffered Shoulder Injury
Amy Schaeffer successfully tried a jury trial on September 13, 2012, receiving a verdict entitling her client to $150,000. Ms. Schaeffer represented a client who injured his left shoulder in 2009. Her client was working as an excavation plumber who was fitting pipes underground when it started to rain. When his co-workers lifted him out of a rain-filled hole by his arm, he immediately felt a tear in his left shoulder which ultimately required surgery to repair.
Because of the injury sustained, our client could not return to his previous employment, which involved heavy lifting and pulling with his shoulder. Our client succeeded in obtaining a light duty position with his employer, but sustained wage loss in addition to permanent difficulties doing daily activities due to his permanent injury. As such, we filed issues on our client’s behalf before the Workers’ Compensation Commission asking for permanent partial disability benefits.
Our client saw a doctor who said he sustained 25 percent permanent impairment to his whole person as a result of the work-related accident. The employer retained their own doctor to examine our client, who only gave him a rating of 5 percent permanent impairment to his whole person as a result of his work accident.
The employer offered our client $30,000 to settle the case before a hearing. Ms. Schaeffer didn’t believe that was enough to compensate our client for his permanent disability and rejected the offer. The Workers’ Compensation Commission awarded our client an 18 percent permanent disability as a result of the accident. This finding entitled our client to $27,180.
Ms. Schaeffer didn’t believe our client received fair compensation and appealed the Commission’s finding. Before trial, the defense attorney repeatedly stated he didn’t understand why our client was unhappy with the Commission’s order, and stated he believed our client had received enough compensation. We disagreed.
Due to our client’s permanent work restrictions, Ms. Schaeffer asked the jury to find that our client had sustained a permanent disability of 60 percent, which was the wage loss our client had sustained as a result of the accident. The jury deliberated for less than 15 minutes and returned a verdict for even more than our client requested—finding that our client had suffered 65 percent permanent disability as a result of the accident. This finding entitles our client to about $150,000 in additional compensation, meaning our client will have been awarded a total of approximately $177,180 from this claim. This figure is $147,000 more than what the employer initially offered!