Our firm represents a young man who suffered an amputation of his left ring finger when his hand got stuck in a mixing machine. Despite the fact that he gave immediate notice of his injury to his employer and immediately went to the ER, the employer failed to accept the injury and failed to file the required Bureau documents accepting or denying the injury.
In addition to a Claim Petition seeking medical and indemnity benefits as well as specific loss benefits for the loss of the finger, we filed a Penalty Petition for failing to issue Bureau documents. The injured worker testified about his injury on three separate occasions and explained that he continues to suffer pain and that he was unable to perform his pre-injury job that required lifting up to 70 pounds with both hands.
The employer retained as an expert witness a hand surgeon who admitted on cross-examination that she did not have a job description for Claimant’s pre-injury work duties and admitted that Claimant at most was capable of medium-duty work.
The employer refused to settle the case, and after extensive litigation, the Workers’ Compensation Judge awarded past due benefits from the date of injury with 10% statutory interest and ongoing indemnity benefits. The Judge also awarded specific loss benefits for the amputation and, moreover, granted Claimant’s penalty petition and awarded a fifty percent (50%) penalty on top of the indemnity benefits. In addition, the judge awarded unreasonable contest counsel fees to be paid in addition to the attorney fees to be paid from Claimant’s indemnity benefits.
Hopefully, this type of Decision will impress upon insurance companies the need to recognize legitimate work injuries or suffer serious monetary penalties for failure to do so.