Bradt Law Offices Case Report: Permanent total disability benefits awarded following trial

Type of Case:   Workers’ Compensation

Legal Issue or Dispute:   Permanent total disability  (even though our client was still working part-time).

Facts:   Our client was 57 years old when she went to work on a part-time basis for the employer. She had some history of low back problems but did not have any restrictions at the time she was hired and was not receiving any medical treatment for her low back. Unfortunately, within a few months after she was hired, she suffered a new low back injury which significantly limited her ability to do the job. She was eventually released to work only 6 hours per week by her treating doctor, and was restricted from  any lifting or other physical activities.

The insurance company sent her for an independent medical exam (IME), and the insurance company doctor said that her back problems were pre-existing and that she didn’t need any work restrictions from the new injury. The employer created a “job” for her, which basically only required that she show up for 6 hours per week, even if she didn’t actually perform any work activities while there. We filed a claim for permanent total disability (PTD), which was denied by the insurance company.  (see this previous post for more information about permanent total disability claims)

At the trial, our vocational experts testified that the job created for our client was not competitive employment, but was only a position created by the employer to avoid responsibility for permanent total disability benefits. We argued that our client met the definition of permanently and totally disabled, because she was “unable to secure anything more than sporadic employment resulting in an insubstantial income.” (The definition of permanent total disability in the work comp statute – see subdivision 5)

Result:   The judge rejected the opinions of the insurance company’s doctor, accepted our medical and vocational evidence and declared our client permanently and totally disabled.

If you have questions about any aspect of your northern Minnesota work comp claim,  please feel free to contact me at Bradt Law Offices at any time.  I am happy to speak with you about your claim or make an appointment for an absolutely free consultation in our Grand Rapids office or wherever it would be convenient for you. We have been representing your friends and neighbors on their work comp claims all across northeastern Minnesota and the Iron Range for nearly 30 years. If you’ve been injured, we can help.

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