$170,000 Settlement – Workers’ Compensation
Attorney: Chris Brantley
Our client was a 72-year-old working in administration in a residential care facility. She suffered severe injuries in a fall at work, resulting in a shattered upper arm that required total shoulder replacement surgery.
After several months of rehabilitation, she returned to work in the facility. Unfortunately she suffered a 2nd fall, resulting in a re-break of the arm and disruption of the hardware, requiring another surgery. Our client was unable to return to work following the 2nd surgery due to pain and limitation of function in the shoulder and arm.
The Defendants denied the compensability of both claims, alleging that the Plaintiff’s falls did not constitute compensable accidents and instead were the result of idiopathic conditions of the Plaintiff. Attorney Brantley took the cases to a live evidentiary court hearing and after submission of briefs and medical deposition testimony, the Deputy Commissioner ruled in favor of our client. The Court found that the Plaintiff’s falls constituted unforeseen and unexpected occurrences, that the Plaintiff successfully proved by the preponderance of the evidence that the “unexplained fall rule” should prevail, and that the Defendants were responsible for paying all medical bills and indemnity compensation to the Plaintiff from the date of original injury. The Deputy Commissioner further ruled that the Defendants should be required to pay our client’s attorney fees in full, as sanction for defending the case without reasonable grounds.
The Defendants appealed the ruling of the Deputy Commissioner, and after submission of briefs and oral arguments in front of the 3-judge panel of the Full Commission, the Deputy Commissioner’s Opinion and Award was upheld by unanimous decision. The Full Commission set aside the punitive attorney’s fee award.
The Defendants appealed the Full Commission ruling to the North Carolina Court of Appeals, asking for the prior rulings to be reversed and set aside.
The case settled for the sum of $170,000 and all costs as well as waiver of the health insurance lien, prior to the parties settling the Record on Appeal.
The highest settlement offer prior to trial was $1,500.