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Schmidt, Kirifides & Rassias Update: Workers’ Comp Settlements

On Behalf of | Jan 3, 2023 | Firm News, Workers' Compensation |

Workers’ Compensation Settlement: Lower Back Injury

Attorney Mark R. Schmidt settled the workers’ compensation claim of a 34-year-old delivery driver from Sharon Hill, Delaware County, Pennsylvania in December 2022, after almost 2 years of complex litigation, and the claimant’s original lawyer withdrawing from the case.

Claimant suffered a low back injury in January 2021. A settlement conference in June failed to result in a settlement, resulting in claimant’s original attorney withdrawing from the case – leaving claimant with no lawyer. The Workers’ Compensation Judge dismissed the case while claimant was searching for new counsel. Being without income or benefits, claimant tried to find work – limiting whatever benefits he might even be entitled to – if he could even get his case re-opened. After several lawyers refused to incur the time and cost to fight appeals – only to “maybe” have a chance to fight the case, and “maybe” receive some benefits during the brief time claimant had no income – the claimant found Attorney Schmidt.

Schmidt argued the wrongful Dismissal up to the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania, and was successful in getting the case re-opened. A second issue also worked its way up through the appeal system to the Commonwealth Court – where it was pending at the time the insurance company inquired about settlement. Insurance companies try to wear down the injured worker. Here, it appears that Attorney Schmidt wore down the insurance company. Tired of the time and cost to pay their own lawyer’s hourly rate for seemingly never-ending appeals, they asked Schmidt if there was interest in discussing settlement. Schmidt first won the back-due benefits for the injured worker, and then obtained a settlement for an additional $20,000.

Some lawyers only take on the easy cases. Many lawyers only accept clients whose case has the potential of a ‘big fee’ for the lawyer. Most lawyers expressly decline the difficult cases. When a case is difficult, time-consuming and will likely result in little if any fee – just about all lawyers steer clear of those. Certified Workers’ Compensation Specialist Lawyer Mark R. Schmidt is known for taking on the most difficult cases – regardless of the projected cost or fee. He truly believes every Injured Worker has a RIGHT to be represented by a skilled, competent lawyer – not just the claimants with easy cases or ‘big fees.’ The right to an attorney is meaningless if lawyers refuse the tough, complex cases.

Workers’ Compensation Settlement: Lower Back Injury

Work Injury Lawyer Mark R. Schmidt won, and then settled the claim of a 26-year-old laborer from Minnesota, injured in April 2021 while working in Pennsylvania.

Claimant worked on assignment, traveling from location to location throughout the country for short-term assignments. He injured his lower back while working in PA. The “Company Doctors” agreed he had work restrictions due to the injury, but the insurance company denied the claim due to a ‘positive’ urine drug test – which revealed pain medicine the injured worker had already told his supervisor that he took AFTER suffering the injury. The defense is called ‘termination of employment for cause’, and has very specific elements the employer must prove. The Judge ruled partially in claimant’s favor, and partially for defendant – finding that the element of ‘termination for cause’ was not proven, but believing the work injury had healed, based on the opinion of a doctor hired by the insurance company. Schmidt appealed, raising many arguments, but mostly that the Judge had no legitimate basis to believe the defendant’s expert, but did so just to give each party ‘something.’ Schmidt argued this is not a proper foundation for a decision. After paying claimant the back-due benefits that were awarded, the insurance company offered an additional $10,000 to avoid the appeal.

Workers’ Compensation Settlement: Fall Injury

Certified Workers’ Compensation Specialist Lawyer Mark R. Schmidt settled the claim of a 62-year-old assembly line worker from West Grove, Chester County Pennsylvania for $85,000, in addition to the wage loss benefits he had previously WON for her.

Claimant was a food packer, working on an assembly line. While leaving work one day in April 2021 she fell on the stairs, suffering injuries to her neck, back and shoulder. The insurance company denied her claim. Attorney Schmidt fought and won all back-due wage loss benefits and payment of medical bills. As the insurance company began a new round of litigation based on an insurance company doctor claiming the work injuries had resolved, and claimant was fully recovered, they offered claimant a ‘small’ settlement to avoid further litigation. Schmidt rejected the offer, and litigation began – again. After all evidence was completed, the insurance company asked what it would take to settle the claim. Schmidt responded with claimant’s “bottom line”, which the defendant rejected. At a mandatory settlement conference, Schmidt reiterated the same “bottom line”, and the mediation ended. Shortly before a Decision was to be issued, the employer agreed to Schmidt’s “bottom line” terms, realizing that his “bottom line was truly a legitimate bottom line, and not a typical settlement tactic.

Workers’ Compensation Settlement: Third-Party Auto Accident

Work Injury Lawyer Mark R. Schmidt won the Claim Petition for a 30-year-old trash truck picker from Philadelphia, who suffered serious neck and shoulder injuries when the truck collided with a parked car.

The Employer denied the claim alleging the claimant’s employment was ‘terminated for cause’ for refusing to provide a urine sample for drug and alcohol testing. Claimant argued he was never asked to provide a sample. His conduct may have seemed ‘aggressive’ at the Company Doctors’ facility, but he was in severe pain, and frustrated by being questioned at such length, and was not being provided urgently needed medical treatment. The staff moved him to a treatment room, forgetting to ask for the sample. Employer presented NO EVIDENCE to prove he refused a sample; rather, they made the argument on the sole basis that no sample was provided. Claimant never disputed the absence of a sample, merely that he was never asked.

Workers’ Compensation Settlement: Pre-Existing Condition

Workers’ Compensation Attorney Mark R. Schmidt won the claim of a 60-year-old computer solutions architect from Newtown Square, Delaware County Pennsylvania.

Employer denied the Claim Petition alleging an aggravation of pre-existing medical condition, due to the incident being unwitnessed (working remotely from home since the outbreak of Covid), and the severity of claimant’s pre-existing condition already causing him difficulties with work. In 2009 claimant suffered multiple, severe injuries as a bicyclist struck by a pick-up truck, and has been receiving treatment ever since. Among his prior injuries were head, neck and back injuries, some of which have caused him to miss time from work. In November 2021 he was working from home (as he had been since Covid) when he struck his head on his desk after retrieving a file that was stored under the desk. Employer’s contest was based on (a) attacking claimant’s credibility to cause the judge to doubt the unwitnessed event even occurred and (b) an employer-paid medical expert denying any change in claimant’s pre-existing condition. Claimant did not try to ‘oversell’ his injury by claiming multiple different areas of injury – but confined the work injury to an aggravation of his pre-existing, post-concussion syndrome. His treatment Provider credibly testified to the subjective change in symptoms as reflected by her treatment records before and after the work incident. The Defense expert admitted that his charge for being a witness (rather than being a treatment provider) is extremely high, and that he does not even treat head injuries. Finally, claimant argued prior court decisions which expressly state that “an employer takes an employee as they are”, and that the aggravation of a pre-existing condition is considered a new injury.

Contact Schmidt, Kirifides & Rassias For Your Free Consultation

If you need a tough attorney to take on the insurance company challenging your right to benefits, you NEED Attorney Schmidt and his team of Certified Work Injury Specialists (certified pursuant to rigorous standards of the PA Supreme Court of PA and PA Bar Ass’n). For a FREE, no-obligation consultation, call us at 610-601-5399 or contact us online.