Derek Lax Secures PPD for Chicago Sanitation Worker [2018]

Ankin Law attorney Derek Lax represented a Chicago Sanitation worker who received $156,550 for injuries sustained on the job. Michael Stefanik, an 18-year employee of the City of Chicago Department of Streets and Sanitation stepped down from his truck onto a pile of bricks in an alley, causing him to twist and fall to the ground. Stefanik advised his foreman of the accident and went back to the city of Chicago garage, where an accident report was filled out. After three surgeries and numerous medications and doctor visits Stefanik still has pain and is unable to work.

On 4/17/2018 the arbitrator ordered that the city of Chicago pay shall pay reasonable and necessary medical services of $552.00. The city also shall pay Stefanik permanent partial disability benefits of $695.78 per week for 225 weeks, because the injuries sustained caused the 45% loss of the person as a whole. In addition, the city of Chicago shall pay Stefanik all compensation benefits that have accrued from 4/2/2012 through 12/13/2017 in a lump sum and shall pay the remainder of the award, if any, in weekly benefits.

(Click here to read the full Arbitrator Decision)

Summary of the Finding of Facts:

Stefanik was employed by the city of Chicago (Department of Streets and Sanitation) for 18 %years, driving a garbage truck. The Parties stipulated that Stefanik sustained accidental injuries which arose out of and in the course of his employment by the city of Chicago on April 2, 2012, when Stefanik stepped down from his truck onto a pile of bricks in an alley, causing him to twist and fall to the ground. Stefanik advised his foreman of the accident and went back to the city of Chicago garage, where an accident report was filled out.

Stefanik was sent to Mercy Works, the following day, April 3. 2012. Stefanik presented with lumbar pain with radicular pain down his right leg. Stefanik was prescribed medication, physical therapy, and was initially given light duty work restrictions that the city of Chicago could not accommodate. Stefanik was eventually taken off of work completely on April 17, 2012. Stefanik underwent physical therapy at Accelerated Athletico and underwent an MRI on May 2, 2012 at Mercy Hospital. Following the MRI, Stefanik was referred to Dr. Daniel Sullivan, who administered an Epidural Steroid Injection.

Stefanik received minimal relief, so following a positive EMG/NCV, which showed damage to the LS nerve root, Stefanik was recommended for an L4-5 Laminectomy. Stefanik underwent his first lumbar surgical procedure at Presence Resurrection Medical Center. Dr. Yapor performed a L4 and L5 laminectomy procedure. After the surgery, his pain did not subside and the city of Chicago sent him for a $12 Independent Medical Evaluation on January 14, 2013 with Dr. Jesse Butler. Dr. Butler opined that Stefanik would benefit from a spinal fusion and was not yet close to MMI, and he should remain off of work.

Stefanik underwent Pre-Op testing with Best Practices Impatient Care at Lutheran General and was cleared to have a second surgery that took place on April 30, 2013 at Advocate Lutheran General
Hospital. The procedure was;
1.) Revision of lumbar laminectomy L4-S1;
2.) L4-S1 posterior spinal fusion;
3.) L4-S1 posterior lumbar interbody fusion;
4.) Segmental fixation using Expediant Titanium System;
5.) Implantation of bullet cages x4;
6.) Right iliac crest bone graft, local bone graft, infused BMP, master graph;
7.) Running and triggered EMGs.
Stefanik thereafter followed up with Dr. Bernstein on a monthly basis and underwent further physical therapy. Due to continuing stiffness and burning pain in his left leg, a new EMG/NCV was prescribed and performed on July 29, 2013 with Suburban Pain Care Center.

Stefanik continued physical therapy and underwent trials of pain management in the form of medication that were unsuccessful. Subsequent X-Rays were taken, physical therapy was prescribed, and a third procedure was recommended. Dr. Mark Levin performed a second g12 Independent Medical Evaluation and opined that Stefanik still had not reached MMI, and that he had spinal stenosis at L3-L4. Dr. Levin further agreed with Dr. Bernstein that a third procedure was reasonable and appropriate, and that MMI would be obtained within 6-12 months after surgery. (PX 7)

Stefanik underwent a third surgery which was a second Lumbar Fusion at L3-L4 at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital on September 29, 2015. Stefanik underwent additional courses of physical therapy with Athletico and followed up with Dr. Bernstein at the Spine Center at Lutheran General.

Stefanik was released by Dr. Bernstein with permanent restrictions of light duty work with the additional restrictions of avoiding repetitive bending, lifting, and twisting on August 22, 2016.

Chicago personal injury and workers’ compensation attorney Howard Ankin has a passion for justice and a relentless commitment to defending injured victims throughout the Chicagoland area. With decades of experience achieving justice on behalf of the people of Chicago, Howard has earned a reputation as a proven leader in and out of the courtroom. Respected by peers and clients alike, Howard’s multifaceted approach to the law and empathetic nature have secured him a spot as an influential figure in the Illinois legal system.

Years of Experience: More than 30 years
Illinois Registration Status: Active
Bar & Court Admissions: Illinois State Bar Association, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois, U.S. District Court, Central District of Illinois
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