category: Workers' Compensation
$532,000 Workers' Compensation Settlement
$532,000 Workers’ Compensation Settlement. A 33-year-old male was severely injured when the wooden scaffolding platform of an oil rig site on which he was laboring gave way, causing him to fall into the belt of the well’s pump motor. This caused his arm to be wrenched and a near severance of his right thumb. The wooden scaffolding boards did not meet federal regulations, and their dilapidated condition contributed to the plaintiff’s serious injuries. Witnesses testified that the wooden scaffolding was hazardous and a hazard to workers. Even though the owner of the rig site seemed originally to be surprised by the work site’s dangerous condition, former employee witnesses were clear to point out that numerous warnings of such conditions and the immediate need for repair or construction were made. Immediately following the incident, this worker’s hand and thumb were placed in ice and he was transported via ambulance to the nearest emergency room, and then airlifted to a triage center in Louisville, Kentucky.
As soon as he arrived at Jewish Hospital in Louisville, he was prepared for surgery on his thumb in an attempt to save his right thumb. The surgery consisted of extensive debridement of the skin, artery, veins, bones, and nerves; a fusion of an interphalangeal joint; ORIF for comminuted P1 fracture with K-wire; fluoroscopy evaluation; microscopic repair of the ulnar digital artery; repair of complex skin lacerations and application of thumb spica splint. Surgical notes indicate that the articular surface on the interphalangeal joint was severely crushed and the joint could not be reconstructed. Also, his digital nerves were avulsed from the proximal portion deep in the palm and were not able to be repaired. Post-op and after discharge from the hospital, he followed up with a doctor in Louisville and it was noted that the plaintiff continued to complain of pain at the interphalangeal joint of the right long finger as well as the thumb. Bone stimulation was then initiated on his thumb and physical therapy and one-handed duty were continued. Due to necrotic tissue on his thumb, he underwent debridement and removal of a portion of the joint capsule close to the bone as well as the removal of a small free bone fragment.
At a later follow-up appointment, the doctor performed a light fluoroscopy evaluation, which showed clear pseudo-motion and nonunion of the proximal phalanx. He also underwent an ORIF procedure where an Acutrak screw was placed in his thumb in an attempt to correct his P1 nonunion. Medical experts confirmed that he suffered from circulation problems in his thumb, causing it to turn blue in cool temperatures. He was ultimately placed on permanent restrictions of no handling more than 15 pounds of materials at a “frequent” rate, now handling more than 5 pounds of materials at a “continual or constant” rate. He continues to have problems with his right hand and thumb that adversely affect his fine motor coordination and movements, and continues to have circulation problems. After our firms’ efforts, this personal injury case settled for $532,020.33. This case represented a 3rd party action originally from a work injury case that had been previously settled.