Slip & Fall
Lifelong Benefits For Client Who Tripped On A Rug
Our client was a 56-year-old woman who was working for a bank when she tripped over an entry rug and sustained significant injuries to her shoulder, knee, back and hands. Prior to this injury, she had already suffered injuries to—and surgery for—the same shoulder and knee. She also had pre-existing sleep apnea, which resulted in her losing a job because she would fall asleep, along with Type II Diabetes and hypertension.
KCAIA brought a workers’ compensation claim against the employer/insurer and settled it for 20% of the body as a whole. We then pursued a claim against the Missouri Second Injury Fund for permanent total disability.
Missouri Workers’ compensation law provides that if an employee sustains permanent injuries due to a work accident and if the employee had pre-existing medical conditions that were a hindrance to employment, and if the combination of pre-existing and work injuries make the employee permanently totally disabled, the Second Injury Fund is liable for permanent total disability benefits. We contended that the combination of claimant’s permanent disability due to her work-related injuries and her significant pre-existing conditions combined to make her totally disabled. The Fund made no offers. The fund attempted to argue that because of claimant’s significant prior problems, she was effectively disabled before the last injury, but was being accommodated by her employer. They also contended that the evidence suggested that the claimant’s condition worsened after the last accident because she started using oxygen and a wheelchair, and it was this worsening that resulted in her total disability.
Collecting Evidence and Expert Testimony Was the Key to This Case
Our firm worked hard to develop her case. We obtained a large volume of medical records to document her pre-existing conditions. Through expert medical testimony and testimony of a top vocational expert, we were able to establish that claimant was permanently & totally disabled as a result of a combination of the significant injuries from her work accident and her multiple pre-existing conditions. Our medical expert testified that at the time of the last injury claimant still possessed the ability to work and was not totally disabled at that time. He also did not believe that the work injuries alone rendered her disabled. He opined that this accident had resulted in a significant aggravation of her prior injuries, such that the combination of her prior and current disabilities resulted in her total disability. The vocational expert agreed and found that in light of her multiple disabilities she was unable to compete for employment in the open labor market and thus was permanently totally disabled. The Administrative Law judge found the testimony of both of our experts to be credible and found that the greater weight of the evidence supported the claim that claimant was permanently totally disabled and that the Second Injury Fund was liable for past benefits and ongoing weekly PTD benefits for the remainder of her life.
Over the course of our representation on this complex case, we developed a longstanding relationship with our client, and we were very pleased to obtain this result, which will allow her to have financial security despite her serious lifelong injuries.