DC Judge Splits Permanency Finding

After another successful DC Workers Comp case, Doug Landau is all smiles after achieving a result 11 times the insurance company's settlement offer
After another successful DC Workers Comp case, Doug Landau is all smiles after achieving a result over 11 times the insurance company’s settlement offer

In a decision received this month, a convention executive received an award of 21% permanency to her arm. The insurance company had sent this middle-age woman to a doctor of its choosing, and its orthopedic specialist found that she only had 3% permanent partial disability to her left upper extremity. This Abrams Landau, Ltd. client had fallen while carrying a heavy container of ice, and injured her arm and neck.

However, the insurance company viewed the claim as only that of a “sprained shoulder.” As the symptoms worsened, Landau’s client went for more testing, which revealed her cervical spine was involved and an operation was needed. While having surgery performed for this “sprained shoulder,” the injured worker developed deep vein thrombosis (“DVT”).

Eventually, Landau was able to get the shoulder, arm, neck and DVT covered by the workers compensation insurance company. While his client returned to work at the same pay scale, instead of being 50% manual labor and 50% office work, she is now performing 80% office work after her surgery. She can no longer perform all the physical functions of her pre-accident position.

Because her own treating doctor would not give a permanency rating, and with the insurance medical examiner’s rating so low, the Abrams Landau trial team paid for the client to have a disability rating done in Maryland by a board-certified orthopedic surgeon. This cost advance was the equivalent of an “interest-free loan” for the client. Lawyer Landau felt it would provide evidence to the DC Administrative Law Judge as to the full extent of the claimant’s permanent impairment.

The orthopedic exam, held right before the formal hearing, resulted in a 41% permanent partial disability (“PPD”) rating to the upper extremity. The claimant testified at the Formal Hearing, and the record was closed in November. The judge ruled on this very limited PPD issue, and found in favor of the claimant for a 21% permanent partial disability rating. This will result in an award of over $55,000 to lawyer Landau’s client. It addition, the client will retain her medical benefits for the arm, shoulder, neck and DVT should she need treatment for those body parts. Under the law of the District of Columbia, as she has reached “maximum medical improvement,” and received a PPD award, she likely can no longer get any wage loss compensation. This is different from what would normally happen under a Virginia Worker’s Compensation claim.

Lawyer Landau notes that he and his client rejected a $5,000 settlement offer after filing for the formal hearing. Furthermore, none of his client’s witnesses were able to testify at the hearing, due to illness in the claimants family. Nevertheless, it was a good decision, and he does not anticipate an appeal. Instead, Landau looks forward to payment to his client of long-overdue DC Worker’s Compensation benefits.

If you or someone you know or care for has been injured as the result of an accident on the job, and there are questions about what laws apply, e-mail or call us at ABRAMS LANDAU, Ltd. (703-796-9555) at once.