Ankin Law attorney, Brien DiNella, recently represented a 52-year-old leasing consultant in her arbitration hearing. The woman injured her neck, wrist, shoulder, and lower back as a result of a tumble down a flight of stairs during her duties working for Monument Real Service, LLC. This was a totally disputed workers’ compensation case, which are very difficult cases to try and to win. Nonetheless, Brien was able to secure a favorable judgment for his client.
As part of the arbitrator’s decision, the leasing consultant will receive $32,047.39 for reasonable and necessary medical services, temporary total disability benefits of $473.09/week for 22.143 weeks, and permanent partial disability to the extent of 7% loss of use of the person as a whole.
[Read the full Arbitrator Decision here]
She noted that her day-to-day job duties would involve responding to emails, answering phone calls from people inquiring about apartments, unit tours for prospective leasees, and responding to resident complaints. She also noted that some of her physical responsibilities were to clean around the office and assist residents with packages.
On the day of the accident, she was going through the model units to make sure they were clean and noticed some paper on the ground. As she went to pick up this trash, she fell down a flight of stairs, landing on her knees, and hitting the back rail of the cement staircase with her lower back. The fall resulted in immediate neck pain, bi-lateral shoulder pain, mid-thoracic and lower back pain, bilateral knee pain, and bilateral wrist pain. She testified that she immediately reported the incident to her property manager and attempted to finish her shift but left at 4 pm to go to the hospital. She left work and went to the Emergency Room where she reports that they stated it was just a sprain and bruise. Later, an MRI of her lumbar spine would reveal a broad-based posterior herniation of the L5-S1 disk with an annular tear causing mild narrowing of the central canal and neural foramina bilaterally.
After the accident, she underwent physical therapy, an L5-S1 lumbar epidural steroid injection with epidurogram, a home exercise program, and was forced to be off work for several months. She has also been prescribed different pain medications with varying degrees of success. Even after the treatments, she still has pain from the accident and she has continued to get injections through her private insurance. She must take medication at night and has not been able to jog anymore like she used to.
Below is an excerpt from the Arbitrator Decision detailing the leasing agent’s treatment:
She testified that she left work and went to the Emergency Room at where she reports that they stated it was a sprain and bruise. The Petitioner testified that she was then seen at . Id. The medical records from Dr. L notes in the initial history from March 6, 2020, that “She states yesterday she was walking up stairs where construction had been taking place and noticed several papers. she bent down to pick up the papers on the platform and as she was walking back down the stairs, she tripped on several rocks due to the construction and tumbled down approximately five stairs.” P Ex 1 at 4. Dr. L also notes that she fell onto her knees bilaterally and onto the right side of her body resulting in neck pain, bi-lateral shoulder pain, mid thoracic and lower back pain, bilateral knee pain, and bilateral wrist pain. Id. He notes that she went on to notify her supervisor and she attempted to finish her shift but left at 4 pm. Id. Dr.L went on to prescribe a physical therapy program and medication of 200 mg of Celebrex and Medrol Dospak. Id. at 5. He then took the Petitioner off work for four weeks for revaluation. Id.
On April 1, 2020, it was noted by Dr. L that after attempting physical therapy she continues to have persistent pain most severe in the cervical spine and lower back. P Ex 1 at 8. Dr. L prescribed a switch to metzxalone and lidocaine pain patches. Id. He recommend a MRI of the cervical and lumbar portions of the spine. Id. He additionally kept her off work for an additional 4 weeks. Id.
On May 14, 2020, the Petitioner followed up with Dr. L and complained of right side neck pain, he continued to recommend a cervical and lumbar MRI. P Ex 1 at 11. He would continue to ask for her to remain off work. Id.
On May 20, 2020, the Petitioner followed up with Dr. L and it is noted that she completed her cervical MRI though she did have a panic attack due to the MRI being closed and the Petitioner being claustrophobic. P Ex 1 at 14. Dr. L proscribed her Meloxicam 7.5 mg and Lyrica 100 mg twice daily, additionally placed her off work. Id.
On May 28, 2020, the Petitioner followed up with Dr. L and she was able to review the MRI of her lumbar spine noting a broad-based posterior herniation of L5-S1 disk with annular tear causing mild narrowing of central canal and neural foramina bilaterally. P Ex 1 at 17. The herniation was noted to be measured approximately 4mm in size with a diffuse disk protrusion of L4-L5 disc causing mild narrowing of the central canal and neutral foramina bilaterally. Id. The protrusion measured 3 mm in size, a mild diffuse bulge of L1-L2, L2-L2, and L3-L4 disks without significant central canal or neural foraminal narrowing with bulges approximately 2 mm in size. Id. Based on the Petitioner’s complaints, Dr. L recommended L4-L5 and L5-S1 injections, further physical therapy, and kept her off work. Id. at 18.
On June 8, 2020, Dr. M performed an L5-S1 lumbar epidural steroid injection with epidurogram and recommended that she should remain off work. P Ex 1 at 21.
On June 22, 2020, Dr. M noted that the Petitioner had pain relief from her injection and then recommended a home exercise program and for her to start light duty work of no lifting, carrying, pulling, pushing greater that 20 pounds. P Ex 1 at 24. She was advised to follow up in four weeks. Id.
On August 7, 2020, Dr. M recommended that the petitioner return to full duty work and that she should take cyclobenzaprine as needed for her intermediate pain at nighttime, she was instructed to follow up as need.