Type of action: Workers’ compensation
Injuries alleged: Right above-the-knee amputation, right hand/wrist avulsion injury and fracture, left leg tibia/fibula fracture, right orbital wall & nasal/septum fracture, fractured teeth, T11-12 transverse process fractures, multiple rib fractures, concussion, depression, anxiety, Type 2 diabetes
Court: Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission
Name of judge or mediator: Hon. R. Temple Mayo
Verdict or settlement: Settlement
Attorney for plaintiff: Craig B. Davis, Richmond
Description of case: The claimant worked for approximately two years as a landscaper for the employer. On Sept. 16, 2016, the claimant was napping in the back seat of his employer’s extended cab pick-up truck while returning from a job site. His coworker operating the vehicle suddenly complained of chest pains and then fell unconscious, causing the truck to plunge down a ravine. The claimant sustained catastrophic injuries including an AKA amputation of his right leg, multiple other orthopedic injuries requiring surgical repair, a concussion and psychological impairments. The claimant was admitted to VCU Hospital for three weeks before transitioning to a rehab facility. After undergoing extended treatment and therapy, the claimant reached maximum medical improvement, and it was determined he suffered 100% impairment to his right leg, 5% to his left leg and 25% to his right arm.
During treatment for his physical injuries, testing ordered by his physiatrist revealed high glucose levels, and the claimant was subsequently diagnosed with uncontrolled Type 2 diabetes. The carrier paid for the diabetes treatment for two years before hiring new counsel who denied further treatment as unrelated. A claim to have the treatment covered was unsuccessful before a deputy commissioner based on causation. On appeal, the decision was reversed because controlling the claimant’s diabetes was determined to be necessary to prevent skin breakdowns and treat his residual injuries. The carrier appealed that decision to the Court of Appeals. Following an initially unsuccessful mediation, the all-cash settlement was reached shortly before oral arguments. The settlement reflects 100% of the present value of an un-litigated permanent and total disability claim combined with a figure that exceeded the carrier’s future medical projections.
In addition to the settlement, the carrier had already paid $1.2 million in compensation and medical benefits. The claimant was an undocumented immigrant who had married a U.S. citizen shortly before the accident. With the help of an immigration attorney and intricate logistics, arrangements were made for the claimant to return home to Guatemala to apply for and receive the required Visa to allow him legally to re-enter the U.S. based on his marriage. Upon his return, the claimant obtained his permanent resident alien card and looks forward to becoming a citizen.
Craig B. Davis, plaintiff’s counsel, provided case information.