Operating Engineer Wins Workers’ Compensation Settlement For Lower Back Injury ($500,000)
A Local 150 Union Operating Engineer recovered $500,000.00 after suffering injuries to his back including, a herniated disk, and multiple disk tears.
The IOE local 150 member struck a bolder while operating a bulldozer. Having been turned and looking in the direction behind him before the collision, sitting in a twisted-at-the-waist position, he suffered multiple, acute injuries to his back including, a herniated disc and multiple disc tears.
When Workers’ Compensation benefits are denied following an on the job injury, the success or failure of the case is often determined by the quality of skilled attorneys representing the laborer and their commitment of resources to accept nothing but full justice for their clients. As this recent case shows, it takes far more than just being on the right side of the Workers’ Comp laws. It takes the commitment from one’s attorney to see the case through, no matter what.
Multiple treating physicians and surgeons had testified that all necessary therapy/treatments experienced by a member of IOE local 150 between 1999 – 2002 resulted from an on-the-job injury that ended his career. Still, attorneys for the employer, Ryan Inc., and their Workers’ Compensation insurance company charged otherwise, claiming that he was released with maximum recovery in 2000 and that any additional care provided was unrelated to his on the job injury.
The Operating Engineer’s legal team, led by attorney Mitch Horwitz at the Chicago law firm, Horwitz, Horwitz & Associates, proved the on-the-job injury to his lower back was the cause of his ongoing and sometimes debilitating pain, and that he was also due retroactive and future wage loss benefits in addition to his medical costs, as he would never operate a bulldozer again.
Because insurance companies often mount numerous appeals as a form of delaying payment and creating added hardship for an injured worker, as this company did, Horwitz was forced to prove the case not once, but three times.
“The case was tried and we won at arbitration,” said Horwitz, adding, “then it was appealed and we won at the Commission. They appealed again to the Circuit Court and we won. After we won in the Circuit Court they appealed to the Appellate court, and it settled before the appeal was decided.”
In November of 1999, the IOE local 150 member struck a bolder while operating a bulldozer. Having been looking in the direction behind him before the collision, sitting in a twisted-at-the-waist position, he suffered multiple, acute injuries to his back including, a herniated disk and multiple disk tears.
The operator did everything he could and everything expected of him over the course of the next three years. He tried on multiple occasions to return to work under the restrictions of light duty, and then medium duty. His pain continued and over time, worsened.
He participated in continuous physical therapy, chiropractic adjustments, multiple disk injection therapies for pain, and consultations with a neurosurgeon, which lead to more aggressive therapies. All that could be done was, and still, his life would never return to normal. He returned to work at a lower paying job because he could no longer do the duties of a bulldozer operator.
The insurance company hired multiple doctors who testified there was nothing wrong with his lower back, and if there was, it was not related to his injury. The court did not adopt the opinions of these insurance doctors.
His disability and medical benefits had been cut off by worker’s comp, and the operator’s quality of life, as well as work-related abilities, were marred with limitations and frustration.
“In the world of Workers’ Comp it’s a huge win, but our client paid an unacceptable personal price for a very long time to see this victory finally come about… a price he should never have been asked to pay.”