In a recent case from the South Carolina Court of Appeals, claimant was working at an employer’s big box hardware store when he was injured on the job. His injury occurred in September 2010 when he slipped and fell. This resulted in a serious injury to his back.
Following initial treatment for his back injury, claimant went to a neurologist who specialized in spinal cord injuries, and he was diagnosed with herniated disc that was compressing his spinal column, and this caused the serious pain from which he was suffering.
As treatment for his severe back pain, the doctor removed the herniated disc and also performed a spinal fusion. This was a fusion of the C5 and C7 discs following the removal of the C6 disc. These discs are located in the patient’s cervical spine, which is in the victim’s neck and upper back. This type of injury is also often associated with whiplash in serious car accidents.
Following surgery, claimant was in rehab for a long period of time, but the pain did not ever go away entirely and actually began to get a lot worse. This is often the reality of spinal disc injuries even with spinal fusions performed. As our Boston workers’ compensation attorneys can explain, spinal cord injuries and back pain in general can be very debilitating and are some of the most common causes of filing a workers’ compensation claim.
In this case, following his attempts at rehabilitation, claimant had difficulty walking and even balancing. He filed a workers’ compensation benefits claim, and his employer agreed that he was entitled compensation and assigned disability rating of temporary total disability (TTD). This means that he could not work at all, but they expected him to eventually get better. He was also to be compensated up until the point he had reached maximum medical intervention (MMI).
As you can discuss with our Boston workers’ compensation attorneys, MMI is reached when the doctor has determined that that he or she has done everything reasonably possible to treat your on-the-job injury, and the cost of any further treatment would be outweighed by the lack of benefit expected. It is sometimes the employer’s insurance company and not the doctor who is trying to make this determination.
Following a determination that the claimant has reached MMI, the claimant can either be sent back to work if able, or be given a permanent disability rating. In this case, the claimant’s doctor determined he had reached MMI, and he was assigned a whole person partial disability rating of 25 percent. In the case of a partial disability, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires the employer to make reasonable accommodations, and the worker is paid an appropriate portion of benefits based upon the state average weekly wage (SAWW).
The employer argued that claimant could not be afforded a permanent disability rating, because he was still able to work. This was based upon a statute only applicable in that jurisdiction, and the court found that it did not apply in this situation.
If you or someone you love has been injured a Boston work accident, call for a free and confidential appointment at (617) 777-7777.
Clemmons v. Lowe’s Home Centers, March 8, 2017, South Carolina Court of Appeals
More Blog Entries:
Scope of Employment in Workers’ Compensation Cases, March 29, 2016, Boston Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Blog