At Abbott, Clay & Bedoy, LLC, we are dedicated to championing the rights of injured workers, ensuring they receive the compensation and care they deserve. Today, we’re thrilled to share yet another success story that showcases Attorney Nikki Miller’s commitment to her clients and her passion for justice.
Our client, a dedicated worker operating a skidder, found himself in a challenging situation. While dragging wood with the skidder in November 2022, the client had a collision with a tree stump. The impact resulted in our client hitting his head, buttocks, and back on various parts of the skidder’s cabin.
The company doctor initially diagnosed the client with a strain of the lower back, and a regimen of therapy was prescribed. After several weeks of therapy with no resolution, it was determined that an MRI would be needed to investigate further to see whether the injury was more serious than a simple sprain/strain.
The results of the MRI revealed that the client had actually suffered a herniated disc in his lower back, as well as radiculopathy in his extremities. The findings were consistent with the client’s complaints that the therapy was not helping him.
Bitco insurance company, the workers’ compensation carrier, was determined to save whatever money they could and refused to pay for any medical treatment or income benefits that arose from the client’s herniated disc.
“This is a perfect example of an insurance company simply not wanting to pay what they should, and daring the injured worker to take them to court. Essentially, the carrier just folded their arms and said they refused to cover any injuries beyond a simple strain or sprain, because that was the initial diagnosis,” Nikki Miller stated.
“Considering the client’s pain and symptoms immediately following the injury, an MRI should have been approved, which would have shown the herniation causing the other nerve issues”, she continued.
On October 2, 2023, Attorney Nikki Miller presented the case at trial, arguing that the insurance company was liable for all injuries stemming from the work accident. Evidence was shown that the client’s disc herniation would not have happened if the on-the-job injury had not happened in the first place.
The judge affirmed our client’s case, declaring that the compensable injury extends far beyond what was initially recognized. The decision recognizes a significant L4-LS disc bulge with stenosis and lumbar radiculopathy stemming from the incident. Moreover, it established that our client was entitled to medical care and income benefits from the date of injury until the date of the hearing, all stemming from the same injury.
In the ruling, the judge wrote, “The claimant has met his burden of proof to establish by the preponderance of the evidence that the compensable injury event aggravated and caused the disputed conditions. Therefore, the compensable injury of November 2022 extends to and includes the disputed conditions.”
The client’s journey to this victory was marked by persistence and unwavering dedication of his attorney, Nikki Miller. It began with a benefit review conference where attempts to mediate the dispute fell short. Subsequently, Judge Christopher M. Maisel presided over the trial on October 2, 2023, to address two critical questions:
- Does the compensable injury extend to and include an L4-LS disc bulge with stenosis and lumbar radiculopathy?
- Is the claimant entitled to income benefits from the date of injury until present?
Proving the extent of the compensable injury was a complex task that required expert medical causation evidence. The Division appointed Dr. John Hodges as the designated doctor, tasked with addressing the scope of the injury. Dr. Hodges provided a compelling explanation of how the compensable injury caused the client’s herniated disc and radiculopathy, and to the extent any preexisting conditions existed, the work injury aggravated those conditions. Dr. Hodge’s findings were introduced into evidence and formed the basis of much of the judge’s decisions at trial.
Based on evidence presented by Ms. Miller, the administrative law judge made several crucial findings of fact and conclusions of law. These include:
- The compensable injury extends to and includes the L4-LS disc bulge with stenosis and lumbar radiculopathy.
- Our client had disability from December 13, 2022, through the date of the hearing, all stemming from the compensable injury of November 2022.
The judge issued an order mandating the insurance carrier to pay benefits as determined by the decision. This includes accrued but unpaid income benefits, which will be provided as a lump sum with interest as required by law.
This victory represents another milestone in Nikki Miller’s ongoing mission to fight for the rights of injured workers. We are proud to stand by our clients and ensure that justice prevails. If you or a loved one are facing challenges following a workplace injury, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at 713-223-1234. We’re here to help.