The aftermath of a workplace injury can be a stressful time. In many cases, your injury may leave you so limited that you cannot work. When that happens, it is important to make sure that you get all of the benefits you deserve, such as workers’ compensation, to provide for yourself and your family. For one hospital worker, that involved taking her case to the Illinois Appellate Court and winning a reinstatement of her full temporary total disability award because not only was she not working but also she proved that she wasn’t able to work.
The employee in this case was a surgical technician at a small-town hospital. Her job tasks consisted of setting up and cleaning up surgical rooms before and after procedures, in addition to moving patients to recovery beds. Two months into her job, the technician felt “something pull and shoot down [her] low back, into [her] legs” while moving a surgical bed into a hallway. A few weeks after the incident, the technician’s doctor diagnosed her with a disc herniation in her back. Eventually, the woman’s doctor concluded that she was unable to work and needed back surgery to address the disc problem.
The technician filed a claim for workers’ compensation. At the arbitration hearing on the woman’s compensation claim, the hospital offered the expert testimony of an orthopedic surgeon, who testified that back surgery was not medically necessary for this patient. The hospital also presented the opinion of another doctor, a neurosurgeon, who testified that, while surgery arguably was a reasonable treatment plan for this patient, her problems were a result of her pre-existing degenerative disc disease, rather than her workplace injury.
Ultimately, the arbitrator sided with the worker and awarded her 72 weeks of total temporary disability (TTD), along with medical expenses related to her treatment. The commission later reduced that number to 39 weeks. The case eventually made it to the Illinois Appellate Court, which reinstated the arbitrator’s original award in favor of the technician.
The court explained that, in a case like this involving TTD, the worker must show not only that she did not work but also that she was not able to work. In this case, the commission was incorrect to decide that the worker didn’t have evidence to support this key piece of her case. She presented proof that her job at the hospital regularly required her to lift weights in excess of 20 pounds. During the period of time in question within this appeal, the technician’s doctors had her on work restrictions the whole time that prohibited her from lifting, pulling, or pushing anything weighing more than 20 pounds. The employer had nothing on its side to contradict this proof presented by the technician that tended to show that she was unable to work during the period in dispute.
With this evidence on her side, the worker made her necessary showing and was entitled to the full 72 weeks of TTD that the arbitrator awarded.
If you’ve been hurt at work, you need skilled and experienced counsel on your side working for you. The Chicago workers’ compensation attorneys at Katz, Friedman, Eisenstein, Johnson, Bareck & Bertuca have been helping people who have suffered injuries at work, aiding in navigating the entire process and helping them pursue the monetary awards they deserve to provide for themselves and their families. To set up a free case evaluation, contact us at 800-444-1525 or through our website.
More Blog Posts:
Illinois Appellate Court Reinstates Benefits Award for Injured Auto Worker, Chicago Injury Attorneys Blog, May 22, 2017
Chicago Area Teacher Wins Case for Worker’s Compensation Benefits After Injury in Afterschool Basketball Game, Chicago Injury Attorneys Blog, March 16, 2017