1. Free Legal Help, Legal Forms and Lawyers. TheLaw.com has been providing free legal assistance online since 1995. Our most popular destinations for legal help are below. It only takes a minute to join our legal community!

    Dismiss Notice

Do you have any input or thoughts regarding my case?

Discussion in 'Workers Compensation' started by jmr106, Apr 18, 2021.

  1. jmr106

    jmr106 Law Topic Starter New Member

    Messages:
    21
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    1
    Jurisdiction:
    Georgia
    My apologies for how long this might be, but it is a mess and I need some opinions. I'm a 38 year old male. 5'8 165 pounds. Muscular and fit for all of my life. For the past 2 years, I've worked in a distribution warehouse for a vending company. My daily job involved lifting crazy amounts of 30-pound bulk packs of drinks, downstacking 5-10 incoming pallets of mixed product onto floor-level pallets behind the shelf to sort them together and filling up the 40-50ft long production pick line shelf seen below with 4 tiers of shelves. The upper tier is about 7 feet high, which is outside of the safe lifting zone. Probably 75 packs per day would go on the top shelf alone. The middle shelf was chest-high, the second shelf was waist-high and the lowest was about 14-16 inches from the floor. Lots of awkward bending and lifting. That's just the first part of the day.

    [​IMG]

    Doesn't look like a lot at first, but even two people doing all of that is backbreaking. A lot of days it was just me because coworkers would call out or not show up, quit or get fired frequently. I was the longest-standing employee in that area. Some of those 5-10 daily pallets come in looking like this, stacked up to 7 feet high and outside of the Safe Lifting Zone:

    [​IMG]


    Then for the second half of the day, you go to the front of the shelf, which is an order picking line (seen below) and pick whatever number of each item lights up. They are combined into trays that, when full, weigh 30 pounds. This involves bending up and down thousands of times per day. Not good for the knees or back, whether bending the legs or bending at the waist. Our manager worked with us for one hour one day and complained the next day that his back hurt. Every one of my coworkers had back pain.

    [​IMG]

    The trays are rolled over on a cart and stacked onto floor-level pallets like this and on any given day we might have up to 20-30 pallets of these:

    [​IMG]

    So at this point, I may have lifted 30 pounds up to a 1,000 times or more just by the end of that day. Then those pallets are wheeled back on a manual pallet jack and each order (multiple orders on each pallet) has to be manually lifted off from the pallet one tray at at time and put onto the back of the delivery trucks or onto a combined route pallet (from other departments). I lost a lot of coworkers over the time and they kept getting unreliable workers that would quit or get fired. We needed 3 people for the job, but a lot of times it was me alone, especially after COVID hit.

    I started in March 2019. By December 2019, I started having weird autonomic dysfunction symptoms that sent me to the ER 3 times in less than a month. I had never had them before. Episodes of rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath, palpitations, lightheaded, feeling jittery and shaky, adrenaline, frequent urination, blood pressure and heart rate rapidly fluctuating, feeling like my legs were weak/shaky/tingling, intermittent stomach pains, lumbar pain, bladder pain and colon pain. The lumbar pain grew with time and I figured it was just a little back strain due to all of the lifting. I've been to every doctor and specialist that I could find since those symptoms started. They all said I was healthy, but had autonomic dysfunction. We haven't found any related disease or condition attached to it. The 3 ER visits, primary care doctor visits, gastroenterologist, cardiologists, endocrinologist, neurologist, etc. My primary care doctor put me on Sertraline (which is an anti-depressant) off-label to calm the autonomic dysfunction due to how the med works and I had been on it since about January 2020.

    Then I severely hurt my back in November 2020. I had been at the job for about a year and 8 months. My lumbar was killing me and felt like somebody stabbed me with a knife when I stood up straight. I went to HR and told them immediately. By the next morning, I was headed to their local worker's comp clinic. They did x-rays and the only doctor there (who is a former medical director) said everything looked okay with vertebrae spacing. She listed that I had "Strain of muscle, fascia and tendon of lower back, init" on paperwork. I had well over a month of physical therapy, TENS therapy and cold laser therapy with their on-site physical therapist who said they don't typically see someone of my age and physical condition with spinal wear like that. My therapy hurt a lot every time and it didn't help. I was under work restrictions of 10 pounds or less lifting during that time and moved to another department for the morning, but management insisted that in the afternoon I go over and help them with the front line picking of the drinks. There was the bending hundreds of times per day with someone helping me, again. When my physical therapy visits were coming to an end, I saw the doctor again and she requested an MRI due to my massive pain and trouble walking. The translation showed:

    "1. There is mild-to-moderate degenerative spondylosis at L4-5 associated with Scheuermann's disease. 2. The L4-5 disc space level demonstrates moderate degenerative spondylosis and narrowing of the disc with prominent Modic changes related to stress response. There is a bulging disc indenting the thecal sac across the midline. In addition there is a left lateral and left foraminal herniated disc protrusion and bone spur measuring 3 x 6mm in size touching the epidural space with minimal extension into the left neural foramen. The right foramen is normal.
    3. The L5-S1 disc space level demonstrates a small amount of fluid in the right facet joint. There is no evidence of herniated disc or spinal stenosis. The neural foramina are normal. Age of injury of all bony changes: Chronic. Age of injury of all herniated discs: Indeterminate"

    She gave me a couple of more physical therapy visits on-site with their therapist and then discharged me with ongoing 10 pounds and under lifting and also limited bending restrictions added on, that I didn't have before. She knew about the Dysautonomia symptoms since my first visit, since I had to tell her that I take Sertraline for the autonomic symptoms. They didn't bother to check that the NSAIDs that they put me on apparently had moderate interactions with Sertraline, as well. When she discharged me, she sent a letter to my employer. In the first three sentences, she acknowledged that she treated me for a worker's comp injury from 11/27/2020 to 1/19/2021 for my low back. In another sentence, she gave her opinion that my autonomic symptoms are unrelated to my back injury at work. In another sentence, she acknowledged a back injury at work again. Yet a couple of sentences later, she stated that my Dysautonomia symptoms are likely the cause of my back pain and that she put me on the limited bending and lifting restrictions due to the Dysautonomia to be accommodated by my employer. When I sent her letter to my personal doctor, he wrote a letter stating that the Dysautonomia has nothing to do with my back injury at work and that Dysautonomia in and of itself does not cause back pain or hinder healing from any back injury. He wrote that they need to focus on treating my back injury separately.

    Later on, my worker's comp lawyer informed that the insurance company's lawyer had contacted them. In the worker's comp doctor's notes, she wrote that I failed to attend pain management and I have no idea what she's talking about. She never told me to go to pain management. None of the paperwork that she gave me mentioned going to any pain management treatment. They also cut my worker's comp benefits shortly after her discharging me, so how was I supposed to attend any pain management? Plus her letter blamed it on the Dysautonomia and said I didn't have a back injury, so she's all over the place. Her letter caused my employer to send me home halfway through the day while I was working under accommodations and they put in for me to go on FMLA for a "serious personal medical condition" that I haven't been found to have. They didn't want me to come back to work until my personal Neurologist, listed in the letter, filled out the FMLA paperwork and listed any restrictions.

    At that point, I was trying to schedule a personal doctor appointment for the FMLA paperwork. I got up one morning and could not stand up straight. I nearly fainted in my hallway from stabbing lumbar pain. I called the insurance adjuster again. They restored my worker's comp bucket again, then HR emails me that it has been restored and to ignore the FMLA paperwork that they filed because I was back under worker's comp for medical. However, my employer did not cancel their FMLA request and I eventually got a letter from the governing body that does FMLA saying I failed to send them documentation and that I'm not eligible for FMLA. The insurance company sent me back to the same clinic/doctor again for an emergency appointment on 2/11/2021 and she again blamed the back pain on Dysautonomia symptoms and that it is not consistent with work comp injury. She told me during one of my doctor visits that she wasn't familiar with Dysautonomia and kept calling it Dystonia, which is neck-related. I mentioned my lumbar pain radiating to my bladder and colon during one visit and she said, "That's because the nerves go around to the organs." My neurologist looked at my MRI disc and noted Sciatica on paperwork. He said I had some nerve impingement and the worker's comp doc wouldn't listen when I told her.

    In all, my workers comp benefits were started and cut two different times. I haven't worked since mid-February and some days just being at home I can't even stand up straight. My back hurts when lying on my bed sleeping, standing, walking or sitting in a chair. I have very poor sleep, my colon, intestines and bladder malfunction daily. My stomach hurts. Some days I have diarrhea due to the colon issues and it feels inflamed. I feel the pain coming from my lumbar to the colon and bladder daily. It gets worse when I move my back in certain positions. I'm lightheaded nearly 24/7. When I stand up straight and bend my back forward, backwards, left or right just a few inches, my lightheaded feeling increases. I feel malaise constantly all day and night. Since November 2020 when my injury occurred, I literally can't get out of bed most mornings. My body is exhausted 24/7. I can go to bed at midnight and not get up until 2pm the next afternoon and I'll still feel like I could go to bed for the rest of the day. Before all of this, I was active, lifted weights, did cardio, etc.

    I have found spinal nerve charts that link the L4-5 and L5-S1 nerves to various issues with the intestines, reproductive organs, colon, thighs, legs, etc. I see these everywhere online.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]


    Constipation seems to be related. Since November 2020, I now have bowel movements around 3-4 days apart with normal/soft stools, so a malfunction of the intestines not moving stool along properly instead of constipation. IBS symptoms, inflammation of the bladder/colon, weird feelings of weakness and tingling in my legs, partial sensitivity loss in groin, erectile dysfunction, Sciatica that runs down my right leg to my foot and a little in my left leg when bending left. When standing up straight and bending slightly forward, backward, left or right, my lumbar has stabbing pain like something is pinching. The worse that gets, the more lightheaded I am. It happens after just a few inches of movement in either direction. When I sit on the toilet, my ears start ringing and my back hurts massively. Even standing straight up causes pressure and stabbing pain in my lumbar, which can make my ears ring. The same for when sitting in a computer chair leaning back. While sleeping on my back, stomach or side, my lumbar hurts all night. It feels like my blood pressure drops at night while sleeping, as well. I have inquired as to whether or not I could be cutting off circulation in an artery in my back in certain postures. While washing my hands at a sink and bending the upper body just a few inches forward, my ears ring and I get very lightheaded. The lumbar pain in my lower back shoots through the middle of my body and into my bladder/colon daily. In 2020, my Gastroenterologist noted that a paralyzed colon could cause my lightheaded symptoms and some autonomic issues. My bladder hurts after urinating and doesn't empty all the way most of the time. I have to sit on the toilet and keep trying and trying to get a little at a time.

    The insurance adjuster tried to offer me "a little settlement if I didn't want to work at the employer anymore." I have a worker's comp lawyer who has years of experience fighting for the insurance companies before the lawyer flipped to fighting for injured workers, instead. So I'm not so much asking for legal 'help'...I do trust my lawyer and they know the in's and out's, having decades of experience. The insurance company controverted the case with a WC-3 and employer denies indemnity in whole. The insurance company partially disputes it, but not everything. They refuse to say what they are disputing, however.

    Before getting the lawyer, I have emails back and forth between the insurance adjuster and myself. She said in mid-February that I had the right to see a second doctor (spine doctor). I picked one from the panel she sent me, sent it to her and 10 days later she controverted using her name. I haven't worked since mid-February, haven't gotten a dime of worker's comp checks (they now owe me about $3,500 worth at this point), have been denied a second doctor and then finally my lawyer was getting them to send me to the spine doctor that I had picked before on the panel. Per the insurance company's lawyer telling my lawyer, the doctor that I picked for another opinion denied my request because the previously mentioned worker's comp lawyer wrote in her notes that I failed to attend pain management. Which again, didn't make sense. The insurance adjuster has told my lawyer that they haven't sent me to the second doctor that I requested before because I haven't received any worker's comp checks. If I had received any so far, they would have sent me to the other doctor, but I haven't because they didn't send them. Catch-22. As you can see, this is a mess.

    Now my lawyer has requested for me to see another doctor and we're pending for that. A hearing was scheduled for later May, but that has been postponed. My deposition will be in later May, instead. They 'may' be willing to pay medical at this point, but still no worker's comp checks. I'm pinching pennies trying to pay bills every month with no income and trying to do online surveys to make what I can. I can't work a job in this condition. Had I not received a stimulus check, I'd be two months behind on every bill right now. Because it is a worker's comp claim, my short and long term disability that I have through my job is not accepting a claim, of course. I can't file unemployment because it is worker's comp.

    I'm concerned that I may have nerve damage in all of this. I can't work another lifting job after this and will have to find another occupation, of course. I have no desire to return to the employer and I'm sure after suing them that they will ask me to resign, anyway.

    In your opinion, do I have a strong case? Will I get a settlement out of this after getting my back fixed? Is there a general amount of settlement for a back injury like this? I know that it may depend on if I have permanent damage, as well. I really need some worker's comp checks and my attorney has tried very hard, but the insurance company is claiming that "compensable medical benefits are being paid" on the controverted form...but they're not. They cut them before that date of the form filing. They also claim that there is no medical to back up a work injury on the same form.

    Again, I am going through my lawyer with regular communication and fully trust them. So by posting this, I'm not saying that I'm doubting them. My employer and their insurance company has treated me quite unfairly a lot of times. In a way, I can't wait for it to go to court for all of that nonsense to be exposed. Written discovery was done weeks ago. I do feel that a judge would find all of this absurd and I'm surprised that the insurance company's lawyer isn't realizing that yet.

    Do you think it will end up going to a hearing or would they more than likely settle given the above issues and complications?
     
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2021
  2. jmr106

    jmr106 Law Topic Starter New Member

    Messages:
    21
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    1
    Agreed, but most lawyers won't answer a speculative or possible future question. Or even entertain something based on most cases. They will answer, but usually an, "Only if the insurance company's lawyer or the insurance company decides _________ " unless the judge has to decide in a court case if it goes to hearing. Which is true, each case varies. While it may be important to the mindset of any injured person just to be hopeful and speculative...the lawyer has to unfortunately stick with for-sure facts as answers to questions or generally avoid speculation. Which is why so many people come to forums like this even if they have a good lawyer.
     
  3. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

    Messages:
    10,804
    Likes Received:
    4,055
    Trophy Points:
    113

    My opinion isn't going to change or fix anything. I have no doubt that your conditions are due to your job. The human body is not made for that kind of punishment no matter how fit you are. The warehouse industry tends to treat warehouse workers like disposable dirt. WC insurance rates are high because it's a high risk job for bone and joint disorders. WC doctors are paid by insurance companies and/or employer and there is an incentive to minimize claims to avoid rate increases. There is not only a base rate for the classification but employers get surcharged for claims experience. My guess is that someday you'll get a settlement that may include retroactive benefits though you may have to go to court to get it. The idea is wear down a claimant until he's broke, can't fight anymore, and is compelled to work to his own detriment.

    Now you know what you are up against, go back and rely on your lawyer.
     
    army judge likes this.
  4. jmr106

    jmr106 Law Topic Starter New Member

    Messages:
    21
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    1
    Out of curiosity, is there any generalized insurance settlement chart for back injuries that all insurance companies reference? Or would it differ with each insurance company? Would they be required to pay a penalty payment for being late on each check, given that they should have been paying benefits all along and were late on them?

    Do you have any idea what people do for their income during the time when they can't reasonably work another job?
     
  5. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

    Messages:
    10,804
    Likes Received:
    4,055
    Trophy Points:
    113

    I'm sure that there is some criteria for determining awards. There are a lot of WC resources in the following search results.

    georgia workers compensation statutory awards at DuckDuckGo

    The first one is a record of published awards. A search for back injury came up with over 4000 decisions.

    Published Awards

    I don't know.

    When my sister had breast cancer her friends started a Go Fund Me campaign. Rather successful. Got a couple of hundred donations. Look into something like that.

    She also sought out charitable services that provided financial and other assistance to cancer victims. She got rent assistance, groceries, help with medical bills, some cash. Might be some services out there for your situation. You'll have to hunt for them like she did.

    Do the eligibility screening for SSI and see if you qualify.

    Supplemental Security Income
     
  6. jmr106

    jmr106 Law Topic Starter New Member

    Messages:
    21
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    1
    Thanks, that's what I have been looking for, just wasn't sure if that info was available publicly and didn't know the official terms to search for.
     

Share This Page