Office Fall Results in Temporary Total Disability

April 23, 2019

A data entry operator who worked for the City of Chicago Department of Water Management was injured when her office chair rolled out from underneath her and she fell to the floor. She injured her back and hips and was unable to work as she sought medical treatment. Applying for disability benefits, she was represented by Ankin Law Office attorney Jill Wagner in her arbitration hearing. The arbitrator ruled that the woman (hereinafter, “Petitioner”) receive:

  • Temporary Total Disability benefits at a rate of $616.59 per week for a period of 2 5/7 weeks;
  • the sum of $554.93 per week for a further period of 20 weeks, because the injury to the worker caused a 4% loss of use of the person-as-a-whole;
  • and the City of Chicago shall pay reasonable and necessary medical services.

(Read the Arbitrator Decision here)

Injury Summary:

In her job as a data entry operator for the City of Chicago Department of Water Management (hereinafter, “Respondent”), she entered the data collected from the field workers into the Respondent’s database. She testified that in that position, she normally worked in a cubicle with a desk, a standard wheeled computer chair, and carpeting underneath. However, on February 26, 2015, due to renovations at her assigned workstation, she was assigned to a new, temporary cubicle. This cubicle also had a desk and a wheeled computer chair but had a tile surface underneath. On February 26, 2015, she had just finished lunch and was coming back to her work station to return to work. She went to sit down in the chair at her temporary work station and the chair rolled out from underneath her. She tried to catch the chair but failed to do so and fell to the ground, landing on her buttocks. She testified that the tile floors in her temporary cubicle made it much easier for the chair to roll. She never had any problems in her normal cubicle with carpet.

She immediately reported the injury to her supervisor, who filled out an accident report. During cross examination, the Petitioner testified that there were no defects in the chair.

The next day she presented to Mercy Works and saw Dr. ___. She gave a consistent mechanism of injury and was diagnosed with a lower back contusion and bilateral hip sprains, status post fall. An x-ray was done, and she was given pain medications and taken off work. She followed up on March 5, 2015 with continued low back pain complaints. Dr.___ continued to recommend pain medications, physical therapy, and off work restrictions.

The petitioner then presented to Dr.__ at Advanced Physical Medicine on March 12, 2015 for a second opinion. Dr.__ diagnosed her with lumbar discogenic pain and recommended pain medications, physical therapy, and off work restrictions through March 17, 2015. The Petitioner underwent a course of physical therapy from March 21, 2015 through May 13, 2015 at Advanced Physical Medicine. On April 9, 2015, Dr.__ continued to recommended pain medications and to continue her course of physical therapy. On May 14, 2015, Dr.__ noted that physical therapy had helped her back pain and she was placed at maximum medical improvement (MMI).

The Petitioner testified that she returned to work with the Respondent as a data entry operator, earning the same amount of money. The Petitioner testified that she still has pain as of the date of trial. She testified that she has good days and bad days, but that she will often wake up stiff and sore as a result of the injury. She testified that she never received temporary total disability benefits for the time she was off and that her medical bills have not been paid as of the date of trial.

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