K.M. contacted Pothitakis Law Firm after sustaining an ankle injury at work in 2006. Her injury occurred while at work for a large nationwide retailer in Iowa. For this injury K.M. underwent surgery, physical therapy, and injections in her ankle.The main issue in this case was whether the Iowa work injury was solely to the Claimant’s ankle, or if the injury resulted in a condition called Complex Regional Pain Syndrome. For an Iowa work injury to the ankle only, the Claimant’s benefits under the Iowa Workers’ Compensation system would have been close to $6,000. The defendants actually paid the amount of $6,000 and told the Claimant they would be paying no more for the work injury. Pothitakis Law Firm made an inquiry to find out if the work injury was only a fracture of the bones, or whether the work injury developed into a nerve/pain syndrome injury such as Reflex Sympathy Dystrophy or Complex Regional Pain Syndrome.After consulting with K.M.’s treating physicians and hearing their opinions supporting a claim beyond simply a fractured ankle, Pothitakis Law Firm scheduled an independent medical exam to obtain more information about the Claimant’s injury. As a result of this medical exam, Pothitakis Law Firm was successful in obtaining opinions that supported Complex Regional Pain Syndrome. The insurance company and the employer were continuing to argue against this and remained firm that the condition was limited to the Claimant’s ankle fracture and she would not be entitled to additional compensation.
K.M.’s case was presented to a Deputy Workers’ Compensation Commissioner in November of 2010 and in January 2010, a decision was made. The Commissioner found that the Claimant not only had sustained a fractured ankle, but also had developed Complex Regional Pain Syndrome entitling her to benefits well beyond the $6000 offered by the Defendants. The Claimant was entitled to over $40,000 in Workers’ Compensation benefits based on this decision. Even more important is the fact that the decision required the Defendants to continue paying for medical care for Complex Regional Pain Syndrome. This condition will be lifelong for the Claimant and will require significant and expensive medical care for the rest of her life.
There are many complexities with respect to Iowa Workers’ Comp injuries and K.M.’s case exemplifies this fact. An ankle injury may not seem complex or susceptible to various valuations. However, this case illustrates the importance of speaking with an experienced Workers’ Compensation lawyer for some injuries that may at first appear minor.