In this case, the claimant’s 500 weeks had run. The 65-year-old disabled worker had failed back syndrome.
In order to help this Virginia workers compensation client, the Abrams Landau team had ratings performed by several board certified orthopaedic doctors on the lower extremities (legs) as a result of the spinal injury. However, the claimant drove to his appointments, family obligations, he was able to do his own shopping and other activities of daily living. The injured worker claimed that on the day of his injury, he felt pain instantly in both legs and back upon lifting at work.
The claimant was released to light duty work, but has been off work for 10 years, after he had Decompression Laminectomy, Discectomy and Fusion. His treating orthopedic specialist indicated that his patient had a “failed back fusion,” and Pseudoarthrosis. In short, the fusion failed to take, scar tissue formation had taken hold and the patient was now much older, deconditioned and not as good a surgical candidate. The claimant is just receiving pain medications at this time, with no future treatment, surgery or other modalities planned. The case settled for $78,000 after payment of 500 weeks. The claimant also receives Social Security and Union disability benefits.
Special Comments: Permanent partial disability ratings to the legs are allowed when the injury is to the lower spine and to the arms when the worker sustains injury to the neck. These ratings can be used to get beyond the 500 week compensation limit. This is known as “permanent total disability.” The statute requires ratings (even in amputation cases) to two extremities and an inability to use them in gainful employment. These cases are exceptionally rare and often settle in order to maximize the injured worker’s Federal Social Security Disability Income benefits.