However, we always want to explore whether there is a possibility for a third-party lawsuit. This provides another avenue of compensation that can help the worker regain financial stability.
These cases must be pursued with caution, as it is possible your workers’ compensation insurer will seek reimbursement for the portion of health care expenses and lost wages that have already been paid. However, they are still often worth going after because plaintiffs may be paid pain and suffering and perhaps even punitive damages – two substantial forms of compensation that are not available with workers’ compensation benefits.
In the recent case of Casey v. TLC Management, a 24-year-old apprentice electrician who suffered a head injury when he arrived at an apartment complex for a contract job later sued management company responsible for maintenance at the apartment complex.
According to court records, plaintiff arrived at the building or a job when he was struck in the head by a 12-pound metal box that was a component of a hydraulic door opening mechanism. It had fallen off the wall.
Although he initially didn’t believe it was that serious, he did report the accident after work. Approximately 30 minutes after he filed the report with his supervisor, he began to experience intense vertigo. He was taken by another to the emergency room.
As a result, he claimed to have suffered a concussion and post-concussion syndrome, as well as cervical strains. After being treated and released from the emergency room, he underwent numerous tests and treatments afterward. Those include epidural steroids and long-term pain medication. He continues to suffer from severe, disabling migraines and has found it increasingly difficult to concentrate on intense mental tasks. He was forced to quit his job and intended career path and still struggles with depression and long-term medical expenses.
Plaintiff argued the management company was liable for failing to maintain the property, resulting in his personal injury. The condition had existed on site for such a period of time the property management company either knew or should have known about it, yet they failed to take action or warn others about it.
Defense argued that the concussion and any related symptoms would have been resolved within three months and disputed the extent of plaintiff’s purported injuries. Defense further argued that being struck by that box was not the proximate cause of plaintiff’s injuries.
In the Circuit Court of Cook County, jurors sided with plaintiff, ultimately awarding him after a two-week trial:
- $161,300 for personal injury, past medical costs
- $500,000 for future medical costs;
- $164,000 for lost earning capability;
- $750,000 for future lost earning capability;
- $300,000 for past pain and suffering;
- $300,000 for future pain and suffering;
- $100,000 for loss of a normal life;
- $100,000 for future loss of a normal life;
- $10,000 for past mental anguish;
- $100,000 for future mental anguish.
In all, he is expected to receive $2.5 million. Typically in a case like this because of contingency fee arrangements with one’s attorney, the law firm will receive about one-third of that (though each agreement is different). Then, workers’ compensation – if he was paid any, as he likely was – will receive its portion of reimbursement for medical expenses and lost wages. Although it’s by no means a windfall, the worker can expect to walk away with a fair sum.
If you have been injured at work, contact the Lee Law Offices at 800-887-1965.
Casey v. TLC Management, March 9, 2016, Cook County Circuit Court
More Blog Entries:
Crane Accident Kills One Worker, Injures Another, July 14, 2016, Greenville Workers’ Compensation Attorney Blog