When you are injured in a work-related accident, you probably know you can seek benefits through workers’ compensation. What you may not realize is there are many different types of workers’ compensation, depending on the extent of your injury, when/ if you can return to work and if you do return, whether your injuries will have a lasting debilitating effect.
The recent case of Tchikobava v. Albatross Express involved several different types of workers’ compensation benefits, including temporary total disability and permanent total disability.
According to Nebraska Supreme Court records, plaintiff was employed by defendant as a truck driver when he sustained injuries in the course and scope of employment. He and his team were driving a semi-trailer from New Jersey to California.
While one of the team drivers was behind the wheel and plaintiff was in the sleeper berth, the truck was hit from behind. The force of impact caused plaintiff to be thrown form the berth into the front of the driving compartment. He was transported to the hospital with pain in his back and ribs and the area around his heart and stomach. He was later diagnosed with left chest wall pain and excess fluid around the lungs.
At the time of the accident, plaintiff weighed approximately 400 pounds.
After his discharge from the hospital, he went to a hotel. A few hours later, he awoke in severe pain and called for an ambulance, where he was taken back. Doctors noted he had a rib fracture.
Soon after, the company paid for him to fly back to New York. His wife took him to a hospital when he arrived, and he was diagnosed with having had a heart attack. He was later given pain medications and transferred to another hospital for physical therapy, but could not participate because of intensive pain.
After years of undergoing various treatments, in May 2014, his doctor determined he suffered a severe impairment and could only work in the “less than sedentary” demand category.
Compensation court determined plaintiff had not met his burden of proof for ongoing medical car for his rib and back injuries, but he was permanently and totally disabled.
He was awarded temporary total disability benefits (TTD) from August 2010 through December 2010, but declined to award TTD benefits from December 2010 through May 2014 (which is when his doctor determined he could only do “less than sedentary” work). He was further awarded permanent total disability benefits starting in May 2014.
Plaintiff appealed on grounds the commission had wrongly excluded a doctor’s testimony that was taken in deposition for a separate negligence action and further that he should have been awarded ongoing medical expense reimbursement and finally should have received TTD from 2010 to 2014.
The Nebraska Supreme Court affirmed in part, reversed in part and remanded. The court ruled the commission had not erred in excluding the doctor’s testimony from the separate negligent action. Neither did the commission make a mistake in declining to award ongoing medical expense benefits.
However, the court found the commission erred in withholding TTD for the four years between December 2010 and the date he was declared permanently and totally disabled. The reason was that the commission had not provided an explanation for this decision.
The court remanded the claim on this issue.
If you have been injured at work, contact the Lee Law Offices at 800-887-1965.
Tchikobava v. Albatross Express , April 1, 2016, Rock Hill Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Blog
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