The following cases and recoveries are just a portion of the cases we have settled in the last few years. Each case is different and prior results should not create an expectation of a similar amount. Any law firm’s failure to inform you of such is a violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct (RPC 7.1) of the Washington Bar Association.
$103,217.00 January, 2013
Following an appeal to the Board of industrial insurance appeals, wherein we were able to establish that the claimant’s condition required further treatment, we continued additional adjudication on the file and ultimately prevailed in getting the Department of Labor and industries to accept responsibility for a degenerative hip condition which required surgery/replacement, then we were able to get the Department of Labor and industries to accept responsibility for depression caused by her disability.
Once these two conditions had been formally accepted by the Department we then asked them to go back in time and reconsider periods that they had previously denied benefits. When the department realized that the claimant had been treated for the same conditions over that relevant time period, and based upon certification from her treating sources, we were able to get the department to pay several years of benefits.
We represented an eastern Washington man who was made a paraplegic. The client, in many ways, had represented the American dream. He moved here from Mexico with his family for work and opportunities not present in his native land. He became an American citizen in 2005. He was well-liked and respected in his community and by his co-workers. On February 3, 2009, the man’s life was turned upside down, as he was rendered paraplegic in a horrible farm accident, in Grant County, Washington.
The client had been working on the farm where he had been employed for many years. On the date he was injured, he was moving a heavy farm implement. The farm implement had an anchor that would prevent the machine’s hydraulics from being worn out while the machine was being transported. While removing this anchor, his coworker removed his hand from the hydraulic valve, the hydraulics gave way and the machine came crashing down on the client’s back, crushing his thoracic spine and injuring him severely. These injuries committed him to a wheelchair for the rest of his days.
Washington law prohibits lawsuits for negligence against one’s employer…the man would have limited recourse with the Department of Labor & Industries, but was faced with the prospect of having no remedy against those persons who may have been responsible for his condition.
This is when he contacted our office.
Joe Schwab and staff immediately began investigating the case. We began looking at similar implements. We contacted local farmers, including some friendly Hutterites who showed us how the machines worked, that the machines could be dangerous, and how they engineered alternative design additions to make the machines more safe. We obtained a copy of the state’s investigative report. This gave us a starting point, as it referenced a failure in the hydraulics. Our office filed suit initially against the manufacturer of the machine and the hydraulic manufacturer.
The case would not be so easy, however, and it involved complicated issues of liability. This is because, at the time of the injury, the machine was already nine years old. Tracking down records from 1999 and 2000 proved very difficult, as many of the necessary documents had been archived in storages off-site from the manufacturer’s facilities. Complicating the matter further, the manufacturing company had, in 2006, held an asset sale, selling all of its assets to another company, but retaining its own liabilities and effectively closing its doors. Under these circumstances, the general rule is that the purchasing company is not liable for the negligence of the previous company. Through much research and litigation, we learned that there was an exception to the non-liability of the purchasing corporation and that if we could make that stick, we could obtain justice for our wheelchair-bound-client.
After poring through thousands of pages of documents, our office was able to learn that the hydraulic valve combination on the farm implement was horrendously mis-configured when it was manufactured. In fact, the configuration of the hydraulics on the machine were the worst possible combination, as they would provide only lift, but no support against the forces of gravity. As it turned out, the biggest shock of the case was only that it took nine years for it to happen, and that the farm workers had always been in jeopardy of this sort of injury.
Our office learned that a simple substitution of parts would have prevented the accident. Our office learned that the manufacturer had possession of these parts, but its assembly workers did not connect the correct parts appropriately. An addition of jacks – available on other configurations of the same machine, offered by the same manufacturer – would also have prevented this accident. None of these would have cost the manufacturer more than a few dollars.
The case appeared to take an unfortunate turn, however, when it was learned that the original manufacturer had no insurance coverage of any sort. The successor (purchasing) corporation had coverage, but relatively nominal amounts, given the severity of the client’s injuries. We were facing serious problems. It appeared that, even if we could prove the case, we would not be able to get blood from this stone. During a late-night/early-morning research session, it was discovered that the successor corporation had not only expanded its operations significantly, but was describing massive revenues and that it expected those to grow substantially in the coming years. This provided the information we needed in the pursuit of fair compensation for our paraplegic client.
In November of 2011, the law firm of Calbom & Schwab successfully negotiated a seven figure settlement on behalf of this client. This money could be used by the client to access healthcare, make necessary modifications to his home and vehicles, and replace the lost wages that he lost, as well as make some small effort to ameliorate the pain and suffering that he had experienced and would – unfortunately – no doubt continue to experience for the rest of his days.
The law firm of Calbom & Schwab is proud to have represented this man in his pursuit of fair compensation and justice.
Claimant had 30 years as a Game Management agent and officer. The worker used powerboats with outboard motors and ATVs regularly and had to shoot firearms for annual certification. DLI’s expert hearing doctor said that there was not enough noise to be considered “harmful”. We proved that the shape of the worker’s hearing loss, as documented on his objective hearing tests, was consistent with noise induced loss, and we showed that serial testing done, while still working for the Game Department, showed deterioration.
Based upon these factors, the Board of Appeals reversed the Department’s rejection, and sent claim back to be allowed as an Occupational Disease for Hearing Loss.
Nurse was badly exposed to toxic materials. Claim was allowed after litigation. We won hearing. Substantial surgery costs will be covered and possibly two years’ of timeloss benefits.
Office worker broke ankle in snow. Claim was rejected due to fact that injury occurred in parking lot. We appealed and claim was allowed. Worker was awarded over $45,000 in benefits, in addition to the costs of surgery.
Client tore knee ligaments. Claim was rejected. We appealed, and claim was allowed. Client was awarded two years of timeloss, and $75,000 in Permanent Partial Disability benefits.
Truck driver had bad back. Loss of Earning Power was denied repeatedly for six years, as he was self-employed and continued to try and work while injured. Awarded $40,000 Loss of Earning Power for 2003 and 2004.
Employee injured knee digging trench, after working for company for 30 years. Claim was ignored and closed in 2008. We appealed, and employee was awarded $82,000 in timeloss benefits, plus a penalty of $20,000 awarded against self-insured employer due to late payment.
$93,000.00 Back time loss was paid following an agreement with the Department of Labor & Industries to reverse, remand and reconsider the closure of the claim. The Department finally acknowledged the opinion of the treating source and the value of their opinion of the claimant’s inability to work.
$27,500.00 Despite a prior significant third party recovery; Calbom & Schwab was able to recover time loss benefits of $11,500.00 and an additional side bar settlement payment of $16,000.00 from a self insured employer compensating the claimant for the long term affects of his shoulder and head injuries.
$11,000.00 Monolingual Hispanic who had been released to return to work by an attending physician. We were able to prove that the release to return to work was a hope not a fat and the physician determined ultimately that the claimant would not succeed. He did not succeed in returning to employment.
45 year old Spanish speaking only worker from Othello injured his back in 2003, Claimant retained the legal services of Calbom & Schwab in 2004, after the Department of Labor and Industries closed his claim without award for permanent partial disability. Calbom & Schwab appealed the closure of the claim, overturned the decision, then got time loss compensation benefits reinstated. On several subsequent occasions, the Department terminated claimant’s time loss compensation and closed the claim without award for permanent partial disability. Calbom & Schwab, through multiple appeals and protests, always managed to get benefits reinstated. In April of 2011, Claim was closed with a $7,558.00 award for permanent impairment. CAlbom & Schwab has appealed the recent closure and is currently seeking pension benefits on behalf of the injured worker.
$15,000.00 worker was injured, and the Department of Labor and Industries mistakenly thought his job was much lighter work then it was, he returned to work and the Department of Labor and Industries refused to pay or his lost wages. Calbom & Schwab proved his job was in fact something that he could not do and was quite heavy work. He received $20,000.00 in time loss and is still receiving ongoing timeless.
$27,000.00 worker had multiple injuries for years, and his last injury was not considered important or significant by the Department of Labor and Industries. They did not feel it impacted his ability to work. Calbom & Schwab proved that his injury was in fact something that disabled him completely, and that the other injuries were something he could work through. Calbom & Schwab succeeded in reversing the Department of Labor and Industries determination and the worker was awarded over $80,000.00 in back time loss benefits, and was placed on the pension role as a permanently disabled worker.
$58,000.00 Knee injury worker compensation settlement. A client wasn’t sure of the exact date he was hurt, so he tried to keep working. The employer knew he was hurt, but tried to exploit the worker’s lack of ability to remember dates and times and managed to get his claim disallowed. After hearings on this matter, we appealed to a higher level, obtained a judgment that his claim should be allowed, and then was able to have a very necessary surgery, he received $75,000.00 in time loss, $6,000.00 interest upon that time loss, and $75,000.00 for damage suffered to his knee.
A case involving injured workers time loss was unjustly terminated when a vocational counselor found the worker employable as a cashier; and such employment was signed off by his physician. We assisted the worker in obtaining a second medical option, undergoing an MRI which found the need for surgical intervention. The injured worker was placed on time loss and paid back time loss wages totaling $26,000
Case involved a woman who suffered a relatively minor blow to the head when a co-worker dropped a package on her, and over time developed neck and mental restrictions. Case required the presentation of a Board Certified Neuro-psychologist and the treating physician to obtain pension benefits. Department doctors claimed that there were absolutely no residual impairments from the injury.
Self-insured employer had doctors who claimed that despite a significant work history that required worker to handle boxes in a shipping and receiving department in a large national Variety Store, and use a hand scanning device hundreds of times per day, the worker’s Carpal Tunnel Syndrome was not an Occupational Disease. Claim filed as primarily a right hand condition. Our cross examination of the employer’s medical expert led to the Board of Industrial Insurance Appeal’s allowance of bilateral Carpal Tunnel condition.
Client had very limited work history in hard manual labor. Self-insured employer said he could return to work as cashier despite the fact that he had went through surgery on his back. We proved claimant had severe back pain and accompanying depression caused by pain for 10+ years and the loss of his previous livelihood, and that the combination of these conditions would prevent him from succeeding at a any work. There would be just too many days where he would miss work from flare-ups of symptoms. The worker had no skills to work in other types of jobs.
Case of a monolingual farm and orchard worker who sustained a fracture of the wrist from a fall from a ladder. The fracture went through the joint of the wrist and didn’t heal well. The worker was left with long-term difficulties with lifting, twisting, reaching, etc. Our client’s attending physician had released him to try and return to work. The Department of Labor & Industries (DLI) did a panel exam that said the worker had no restrictions on using the hand and wrist. We used a physical therapist to test our client’s capacity to handle, lift, carry, twist, etc. DLI presented the attending doctor to have him testify that he had released the claimant to work. On cross-exam, the attending doctor said that it was unknown, when he released him to try and return to work, whether the joint would “toughen” and become less painful. We were able to prove that the continued problems prevented him from repetitive use of the dominant hand and arm, and that combined with his limited education, limited work experience, and language, the worker was now precluded from any return to work on a continuous basis. The Board of Industrial Insurance Appeals found the worker disabled and entitled to Pension benefits.
Heart damage claim from minor electrocution. Claim rejected by DLI. The worker had “Atrial Fibrolation” which was proven by our treating expert to be caused primarily due to 3 things, one of which is electrocution. Claim allowed by Board. Claimant is to receive long term disability.
Client hurt while working for package delivery company. Claim was rejected by the self-insured employer. We settled on client’s behalf for $40,000.
Client was on pension but was mistakenly taken off, as he was suspected of wrongdoing. This was largest fraud order ever in the State of Washington (the state demanded $500,000). Order was reversed completely, and client was awarded disability of $4,000 per month pension benefits for life. Over 1/2 million overpayment and penalties voided.