Jonel Metaj Helps Injured Worker Receive Surgery

August 6, 2019

Ankin Law Office workers’ compensation attorney, Jonel Metaj helped an injured tire repairman secure needed surgery after being injured at work. The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission arbitrator ruled that Metaj’s client would receive $2,451 for unpaid medical bills, as well as all reasonable and necessary costs of a three-level laminectomy as prescribed by a doctor.

(Read the Arbitrator Decision Here)

Metaj’s client (henceforth-Petitioner) testified he was employed by the tire shop (henceforth-Respondent) for six or seven years as of December, 2012. The petitioner repaired commercial tires on trucks and big machines, both inside and outside of the respondent’s shop. The tires weighed over 100 pounds. The petitioner was required to lift the tires when doing repairs. He worked over 40 hours a week; Monday through Friday and sometimes Saturdays. He was paid $15.00 per hour.

Beginning in December, 2012, and into January, 2013, the petitioner was doing his usual heavy lifting of tires when he began having pain in his back. In January, 2013, the pain was getting worse and worse. He reported to his boss, that he was having pain in his back.

After multiple trips to various doctors, pain management strategies, steroid injections, and tests that included MRI’s the pain did not go away. After other doctors offered no relief, a three-level laminectomy was recommended by Doctor M. The arbitrator hearing established that the petitioner was entitled to payment for prospective medical treatment including the surgery.

The Arbitrator adopts the Finding of Facts in support of the Conclusions of Law.

With respect to the issue of whether the petitioner’s condition of ill-being is related the injury, the Arbitrator makes the following conclusions of law:

There was no evidence petitioner had prior back problems before his employment with respondent which began six or seven years before December, 2012 The unrefutted evidence was that petitioner repeatedly lifted tires that weighed 100 pounds or more that resulted into an injury to his back on January 17, 2013. Although he was released to return to work on February 27, 2013, it was not without pain. Petitioner also returned to performing his same repetitive work of lifting 100 pound tires.

Dr. M testified that petitioner’s heavy lifting at work was a competent cause of petitioner’s repetitive injury to his back. Although Dr. M agreed that the December 10, 2014 MRI showed there was a resorption of the left paracentral disc extrusion at L5-S1, there was still stenosis at L3-L4, L4-5 and L5-S1. Dr. M agreed that although petitioner had congenital spinal stenosis, the work-related injury exacerbated the condition. Petitioner’s EMG of March 29, 2016 was positive for multilevel lumbosacral radiculopathy at L4, L5 and S1 levels.

Based upon the foregoing, the Arbitrator finds petitioner’s current back condition, for which petitioner now requires a three-level laminectomy, was caused by the work accidents of January 17, 2013 and December 9, 2014.

The Arbitrator makes this finding despite the opinion of Dr. Z Dr. Z who ignored the findings on the MRIs, the positive EMG, the diminished pinprick in the lower left extremity and the absence of deep tendon reflexes in petitioner’s lower extremities. He did double-speak when asked about the positive EMG. The Arbitrator agrees with Dr. M’s assessment of Dr. Z’s opinion that it was ridiculous for Dr. Z to find there was no medical basis to suggest petitioner’s symptoms and lumbar condition were caused or made symptomatic as a result of the work injury or any work activities.

With respect to the issue regarding prospective medical care, the Arbitrator makes the following conclusions of law:

Petitioner has received conservative treatment, including various injections and physical therapy, without relief. In reliance on the opinion of Dr. M the workers’ compensation Arbitrator awards the costs of surgery consisting of the three-level laminectomy, and the attendant care, to be paid in accordance with the fee schedule and 88 and 88.2 of the Act.

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