Work Comp Attorney gets involved in Back Injury Case

The following case, especially since it involved a back injury, is a good example of why someone should immediately seek the help of a work comp attorney. Everyone in the following case actually agreed that the injured worker suffered a low back injury while she was stocking 12-packs of soda. But the insurer then argued the work injury had been an uncorrected medical condition from another back surgery, a decade earlier.

Ten years before, the injured worker had a low back injury, had spinal fusion surgery, and then returned to work within months. The injured workers Work Comp Attorney testified, with no evidence to the contrary, that after her recovery from that first back surgery of being active in sports, playing softball, and water-skiing. Almost ten years later, the injured worker was working full-time as a cashier in a video store (from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.), five days a week. She was also working part-time as a stocker for the same employer’s gas and convenience store chain.

The injured worker saw several doctors and received physical therapy and medications before eventually going back to Dr. G, who had performed her first back surgery. In a report obtained by the Work comp attorney after the second injury, Dr. G wrote “the reason that [the injured worker] had done so well initially was that she had a stable pseudoarthrosis; and then with her recent injury, more than likely she had torn some of the scar tissues from this pseudoarthrosis.”

The work comp attorney introduced Dr. G’s report as well as reports from Dr. W. There was really no evidence to the contrary other than the statements of several insurer doctors, who referred to the second injury as a “nonunion.” The insurer then argued that the injured worker had a “nonunion” from the first surgery. This, the injured woman’s work comp attorney pointed out, was completely disproved by the fact that the injured worker was active physically and working two jobs. On the issue of disability, it was also undisputed that the injured worker had continued to work her video store cashier job, because it involved sedentary sitting. She kept working until her surgery required her to stay at home. Finally, at one point, the injured worker’s then-treating doctor had even released the injured worker to light duty. All of this evidence was introduced through testimony and extensive medical records by the work comp attorney. Interestingly, the insurer then, finally, tried to argue the injured worker had been offered an alternative job.

The insurer said the employer made the injured worker a genuine job offer by writing her a letter, sent from the employer’s out-of-state home office. The work comp attorney noted the letter only “suggested” that the injured worker contact the employer’s local store manager. The injured worker testified that she called, but the manager didn’t call her back. Although the employer’s possible job offer was not even an issue at the hearing, the hearing officer felt it deserved comment. The hearing officer agreed with the work comp attorney that the “job offer” didn’t meet the requirements of Texas workers comp law as a real job. Even more importantly, the hearing officer believed that the injured worker had “testified credibly” about her efforts to contact the store manager. The award was upheld.

A Work comp attorney can note that injuries to the back are among the three most common injury accidents at work. But because back sprains and lower back injuries are also so often medically complicated, and can happen by degree anywhere, insurers often fight against them. Attorneys have special expertise in establishing the causes of a back injury at work. As importantly, consulting with an injury lawyer may also help someone get the medical care needed to help treat his or her possible back injury.