In September of 2001, injured employee H.L.E. hired Pothitakis Law Firm to assist him with respect to a work injury. H.L.E. had been employed by a local manufacturing plant and had sustained an injury to his low back. The employer disputed that the condition was work related and refused to pay benefits on the claim. After several months of exchanging information including depositions and reports from medical providers, the case was set for hearing.
The night before the hearing, the defendant Workers’ Compensation insurance carrier contacted Pothitakis Law Firm and indicated that they had an interest in trying to resolve the case. The Workers’ Compensation insurance carrier again reiterated that their position that they did not believe that the back injury was related to H.L.E.’s work activities and they suspected that they would win if they went to trial. They indicated that they would pay somewhere between $25,000 to $30,000 to resolve the claim. After discussing the matter with H.L.E., Mr. Pothitakis and the client decided that it was not sufficient to resolve the claim, and they proceeded to hearing. The hearing took place in the summer of 2005, and a decision was issued shortly thereafter.
The Deputy Workers’ Compensation Commissioner who decided the case set forth a Decision denying H.L.E. any benefits whatsoever. Mr. Pothitakis discussed the matter with H.L.E. and informed H.L.E. that he did not believe the Decision was a good decision based on the evidence and that an appeal should be filed immediately. An Appeal was filed and briefs were submitted to the Workers’ Compensation Commissioner. The Workers’ Compensation Commissioner agreed with Pothitakis Law Firm that the Deputy Workers’ Compensation Commissioner’s initial Decision was not correct and overturned the same. The Workers’ Compensation Commissioner awarded H.L.E. benefits for his low back injury and concluded that he had suffered a 25% industrial disability benefit entitling him to 125 weeks of benefits.
After receiving this new Decision, the Workers’ Compensation insurance carrier decided that it wanted to appeal the Decision to the Des Moines County District Court, and it filed what is called a “Petition for Judicial Review” to appeal the Decision which awarded H.L.E. benefits. This Petition was filed in the summer of 2006.
In the Spring of 2007, the Iowa District Court in and for Des Moines County entered a Decision agreeing with the Iowa Workers’ Compensation Commissioner’s Decision awarding H.L.E. a 25% industrial disability. Based upon this Decision, H.L.E. was awarded benefits of approximately $55,000 for this 2001 injury.
Over the next few years, H.L.E.’s condition continued to deteriorate resulting in more limitations in his ability to perform work. Based upon this deterioration, Pothitakis Law Firm filed a review reopening Petition in early 2009. The review reopening petition was a request for benefits above the 25% loss previously awarded contending that H.L.E.’s condition had changed resulting in a great loss to H.L.E.
Again, the Workers’ Compensation carrier disputed that there was any change or any entitlement to additional funds. They defended the claim and indicated that they were not willing to provide any additional benefits to H.L.E. for his claim. The case was set for hearing in the summer of 2010. During the week before the hearing, the Defendants contacted Pothitakis Law Firm and indicated that they had an interest in trying to resolve the claim. At this time, the Defendants indicated they would pay $20,000 to settle the claim. H.L.E. and Pothitakis Law Firm determined that this again was insufficient to resolve the claim and proceeded to hearing.
In the summer of 2010, a Decision was entered on the review reopening claim finding the Claimant to be permanently and totally disabled. This was a finding that given the Claimant’s age, education, injury, and restrictions that he was unemployable entitling him to lifetime benefits. The present value of the permanent total award was in excess of $400,000 in new money, plus medical associated with the claim. This again was appealed by the Workers’ Compensation insurance carrier to the Workers’ Compensation Commissioner.
While on Appeal, the Workers’ Compensation carrier contacted Pothitakis Law Firm to inquire about settlement. Ultimately, the case was settled for a confidential amount along with provisions for the payment of client’s future medical expenses.
Based upon the willingness of H.L.E. to stand his ground and remain confident in the pursuit of his benefits by Pothitakis Law firm, H.L.E. was able to turn down offers in the $20,000 to $25,000 range and receive an award that was worth approximately $400,000.