Permanently disabled RN & workmen's comp

  1. I AM POSTING THIS INFO AND REQUEST FOR INFO TO BOOST MY WIFE'S MORALE WHILE WAITING TO SETTLE WORKMEN'S COMP COMPLAINT. ALL COMMENTS APPRCIATED. My wife is a Registered Nurse in the state of Kentucky. She has been nursing for over 33 years (counting volunteer work she started doing at age of 14 in a local Psychiatric Hospital). She has worked in Psych Hospitals, nursing homes, regular hospitals and Home Health. While working in her last job at a Psych Hospital that is privately owned she was involved in a freak accident. A cabinet fell off the wall in the meds room (where she was preparing evening meds and landed on her head and arms). She has dementia due to the head injury and mild residual features with protruding discs in her neck from this accident and also has a constant headache. The WORKMEN'S COMP doctor naturally claims there is nothing wrong. He did concede that the headaches were caused by the injury. Her doctors all rate her as 100% disabled. What I need to know is there any other RN's out there that have had dealings with something like this. The lawyer's for the WORKMEN'S COMP insurance offered her $18,000.00 for her career. We naturally rejected this. They then came back with an offer of $113,000.00. Our lawyer will get $12,000.00 of that. She (our lawyer) thought it was an awful lot of money and my wife should accept it. In the amount of time left before retirement, my wife could have made in excess of $1,000.000.00 at her current rate of pay with modest increases over the years till retirment. My wife offered to settle for $1,645.00 per month for 15 years. This would have come out to $355,320.00. The most she could have drawn was $2,100.00 per month which would have equaled $453,600.00 over 15 years. She has had medical problems over the years and the INSURANCE attorney's are attacking her on this. I wonder if he has ever been sick and who took care of him. Sickness and inuries go with the field, especially if you have been in it very long and dealt with Psych patients. The cabinet that fell on her had approximately 15 screw holes in one corner. Not a single screw hit a stud. It was the same way all the way around the cabinet. The wall was sheetrock. The cabinet and everything in it was estimated to weigh around 300-400 pounds. The director of nurses at the hospital came to the emergency room and told me that my wife was lucky to be alive. Another cabinet had fell like this but no one was hurt a few months earlier. I contacted OSHA and they don't seem to care. They told me you only have six (6) months to report something like this. It happened over 2 years ago and we have been fighting the system ever since. The Kentucky Nursing Association seems to care less about the situation. My contact with them via email was useless. Does my wife's offer seem right or too much to any of you. She changed her offer to $200,000.00 and her lawyer wouldn't even make the offer to the insurance lawyers. On her last contact with her lawyer she finally made her lawyer offer them $225,000. Thanks for listening to my rambling. It has been a very frustrating period in our lives. The final days before settlement are very near. Any comments are appreciated.
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    About ginseng-hunter

    Joined: Feb '02; Posts: 1
    retired DAC


  3. by   zumalong
    Sounds like you need to find a new lawyer. There are more and more nurse legal consultants. (they usually work against cases, but maybe you could find one that could give you an avenue in your state)

    This sounds so unfair you hear about these people who get all this money and are not as disabled as your wife sounds. Hang in there. You sound like a great support to her. I must be hard on both of you. Take care. Good luck.
  4. by   Brownms46
    Unfortuantely I have had some dealing with WC also. I was injured in a car accident while going to see my last pt, when I was working Home Health. I was hit broad side in the drivers door by a teenager with NO license or insurance! I had only been working as a home health nurse for three months when this occured. Anywho...I ended up being out of work for almost two years! I injured several cervical discs and went through the lawyer/doctor run around. In the end I had surgery and got better...THANK GOD!.

    Now I said all that to say case was decided by how much I had earned and by gong by the most recent tax return in order to determine how much loss I substained. I see no reason why your wife's settlement shouldn't be calculated on the same basis.

    I'm very sorry to hear about your wifes injuries..I know you BOTH must be devastated to say the least. I wish you the best, and hope things work out in your favor.
  5. by   roxi
    I've been through the work comp thing and I know what your going through, I am not totally disabled, but have a bad back for the rest of my life. I have metal plate and 6 screws in my neck from 2 ruptured disc, and the Dr.s get paid well from the insurance companies to downplay the injuries a worker has. I finally settled for a whole year of wages, and am back working full time, but my own Dr. states I should be on disability, but can't live on that either, so I go to work and hurt every min. of it.Hang in there and I hope you win your battle. Roxi
  6. by   hadit
    Horrible. Sounds like they(facility) should be liable as someone was negligent with the installation of that cabinet. I'd consult another lawyer who specializes in injury cases. No way would I settle for anything less than the $300k life earnings. Plus medical coverage for injuries. Doesn't sound like the lawyer is working for you....only if it's easy. My sister was in a car accident and her own insurance company tried everything to avoid was the other driver ran a red. She had to take her insurance co to court and the judge wasn't happy with the company.
  7. by   thisnurse
    if your wife has dementia, and to the point where you have to post for her, how are our comments going to boost her morale?
  8. by   P_RN
    I can sympathize entirely.

    May I ask where you obtained your lawyer from? It's not UP TO HER to decide what the offer is. She is to represent YOU not the other way around.

    Is she a worker's comp specailist?

    If she is not you need to find one.

    You need a real alligator, not a quasi litigator.

    I assume she is getting 1/3 of the settlement? Remember that's in addition to the COSTS you also have to pay.

    Remember too, that any medical bills paid by your health insurance company will have to be repaid to the insurance company out of the settlement. That's called subrogation.

    The comp laws are quite specific in that even for a total disability there are limits as to the percentage of the ALLOWED maximum salary ...usually a very low sum.....and a limit on the number of weeks that amount can be paid.

    It NEVER amounts to what a real salary would be for that same amount of time. EG: in my state total for my back was 2/3 of the allowable salary ( I think it's like $200 a week), for a maximum of 500 weeks.

    The nursing board will not be of any use.

    You need to go after the facility if you can prove the equipment was faulty. That may be under a different lawyer though. One thing at a time.

    Now you may wonder how I know all this. I am totally disabled as a nurse and on total social securtiy disability for life. I would have had a future income of at least 1M also. Now I draw $1325 a month. We nearly lost our home, our car, we did lose all our savings, my husband took retirement early to care for me.

    Work. Comp is NOT fair nor is it up to date salary wise, but it is more than nothing.

    What I did was settle for quite a bit more than what you are being offered, but my injuries are differnt and the circumstances are different. I then have a suit against the facility for wrongful injury.

    It's been 2 years 4 months and 14 days for me.

    If you are not happy w/ your lawyer, check around. If she's not the best then find one who is. 1/3 a settlement to a great one is no different than to a poor one. It's just the $$$ that is more.

    Oh yes. Apply for social security disability RIGHT NOW. It takes a long time and then once approved there is a 5 month wait from the date of coverage before they will pay. If they disapprove, just appeal, appeal, appeal. Approval will be covered from the first date of application.

    After the 1st denial ( and you probably will be denied) then you get a Social Security Lawyer...NOT the same one as your comp lawyer.

    Good luck.

  9. by   suzannasue
    Ginseng -Hunter.
    I am terribly sorry your wife is the victim of a freak accident while working. BUT!!!!!!!!! AM I SHOCKED AT THE PISS POOR SUPPORT YOU HAVE RECIEVED FROM THE STATES NURSES ASSOCIATION and LAWYERS??????????? HELL NO. Nothing shocks me anymore. A friend of mine sustained an injury to her right shoulder while we were repositioning a patient. I heard a "tearing" in the area of her right shoulder, from across the bed. Against her judgement, I slammed a variance report in front of her and she filled it out,and I put it in our manager's mailbox. When time came to clock out, I escorted her to the ED and stayed while she was examined. The MD ordered films of her cervical/thoracic/lumbar spine...and he swore that her "discomfort" was result of straining her cervical spine. She was prescribed a muscle relaxant and something for pain, and sent her on her way. Luckily, she was given a copy of her ED record and her chief complaint was recorded as "right arm pain".
    And the record was very definitely absent of any sort of acknowledgement of her stated complaint.
    She made an appointment with her primary physician,was seen and sent to physical therapy for exercize therapy,given more muscle relaxants. She called me and told me how the first round of physical therapy was so painful and actuallt hurt more after therapy than it did wit the initial injury. I told her " get a lawyer,NOW!!!!!!! Call your doc and tell him the therapy is causing more pain and is not helping it is hurting your right arm."
    She got a lawyer. Then over the next 8 months,she was unable to work, in constant pain,could not move without excruciating pain and her husband had to help her find a comfortable position each night,propped on pillows so she could sleep. She was sent to orthpedic specialists and neurologists. The neurologist did a nerve conduction study and found she had carpal tunnel syndrome,then had the nerve to ask if she still had her ovaries.
    Oh my....wrong thing to say,ya know. using the most shocking language she could muster she asked him "what in the H *** do you mean??? That because I still have my F****** ovaries and I am through with menopause that the only reason I am having pain is because I have my &$%#@( F)O*(788 ovaries???? Well let me tell you something you SOB, the next time you hear my name it is going to come out of my lawyers mouth and you will regret what you just said,do you understand me???????" She had an appointment later that week with yet another orthopedic guy. She said he had heard from her neurologist that she was dis-satisfied with her treatment so far and if she could think of any other treatment plan he would do anything to appease her . She said "well you can also tell him that the confidentiality of my case has been breached and yes,HELL, yes I can tell you what needs to be done. You can do an MRI of my right shoulder because for 9 months yall have acted like this pain is all in my head and I'm going to prove that yall aint worth a d###. " She had the MRI of her right shoulder and LO AND BEHOLD !!!!!!! An "old" rotator cuff tear was found.... she has had 4 surgeries on her shoulder that were unsuccessful. Her lawyer has "unusually" stood by her and has determined no settlement would be made until it was "in her best interests". She,on return to work,following one of the latter surgeries,was given a "light duty" position....medication nurse...pushing the med cart down the hall all day. Helping pts sit up for swallowing purposes. She was in tears and a whole lot of pain, called her lawyer when she got home. He called nursing administration and she was given a "light duty" position in outpatient surgery registration. When the hospital did away with
    her position, calling it downsizing, she was taken to a room and it was suggested by the nurse administrator that she find another
    career since she "could not handle nursing duty anymore".
    She smiled politely and told them her lawyer would be in contact with them,that she had no time to play their games. She had a feeling they were trying to get her to be "outspoken" and would find a reason to fire her thus making them unliable for her injury and subsequent treatment for her injury. Her lawyer called them alright and a few things were made clear to them and they had better understand that workmen's compensation laws were made to protect injured working people from vultures like they.
    It has been 6 years. A settlement has not been made yet. She was sent to an orthopedic surgeon who is known nationally for repairing "old tears of rotator cuff " injuries. She is not able to return to work, and her lawyer has made it perfectly clear that he will not allow a settlement until he knows my friend will be taken care of for the rest of her life.
    Nursing is not a safe career by any means. There are freak accidents such as had by your wife. There are muscle strains,sprains,torn ligaments,herniated discs. Nurses are bitten,scratched and sometimes beaten. And in this time in history,nurses are being shot while on the job. However, I will guarantee you that someone in the administrative end of our careers will find someway to find THE NURSE responsible for any injury sustained while on the clock!!!!!!!
    I am so sorry you have had to live through the horror of seeing the lack of "caring" in this profession and also have had to endure an impatient lawyer.
    Find another lawyer. Keep us posted.

    You and your wife are in my prayers.

    p.s. you Know what you call 10,000 lawyers on the bottom ofthe ocean???????
    Answer: a good start
  10. by   VickyRN
    I'm very sorry that you and your wife are going through such a horrible time. In my opinion, workman's comp is beyond worthless, it acutally conspires against the employee making the claim--I've seen it happen to a coworker who sustained serious injuries while on the job, lifting a very obese patient. The injured employee did not receive the care she needed, but was shuffled around. She's still suffering to this day.