A staffing agency employee, who alleged multiple injuries to his head, neck, lower back, and knees while moving a heavy part at work, failed to convince the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission of his alleged catastrophic work-related injuries.
At trial, the arbitrator found the employee’s injuries were limited to soft tissue injuries in the cervical spine, lumbar spine, and bilateral knees. The arbitrator also found the employee reached MMI approximately five months after the accident and denied the excessive medical treatment prescribed and incurred, saving the employer tens of thousands of dollars in additional exposure.
On appeal to the Commission, the employer risked exposure for further temporary total disability benefits, medical benefits, permanency for the employee’s alleged radiculopathies and bilateral meniscal tears, and interest expenses. Under the Commission’s ruling, which affirmed and adopted the arbitrator’s trial decision, the employer’s liability was limited to a few months of temporary total disability benefits, conservative incurred medical treatment, and permanency for resolved soft tissue injuries. The decision is a victory for Goldberg Segalla‘s Natasa Timotijevic, a member of the firm’s Workers’ Compensation group.
The decision ultimately hinged on the persuasive IME opinions presented by the employer and credibility issues presented by the employee―who alleged at trial he had difficulty sitting for long periods of time, but was able to travel several hours from his home in Kankakee to doctor’s appointments in Chicago for his alleged injuries.
“The first step to a strong appeal strategy is a strong trial strategy―specifically understanding the most important pieces of evidence and testimony that need to appear in the record on appeal,” Natasa said. “This type of case really exemplifies the importance of getting a good IME and the skill in obtaining good witness testimony. We were able to obtain very strong IME reports and elicit favorable testimony from both the treating and expert medical witnesses at the trial stage. Our strategy was to hone in on those key pieces of objective evidence that the claimant’s work-related injuries were less severe than he claimed and that the arbitrator was correct in his decision.”
Goldberg Segalla’s success in efficient file-handling, as well as long-range strategic risk-management, has earned us a national reputation for exceeding our clients’ expectations and driving positive change in the practice of workers’ compensation law. One of the first law firms ever to approach workers’ compensation in this manner and at this scale, we have been able to achieve extraordinary cost savings for leading employers in sectors ranging from construction to retail to the gig economy.