John Popilock, Director of the Workers’ Compensation Subrogation Group at Stutman Law, recently secured a $1.5M recovery for an injured worker in Wisconsin, and also recovered 100% of the lien for a workers’ compensation insurer, in a Chicago premises liability case.
In this matter, a long-haul trucker was delivering automotive parts to a customer in central Illinois when he fell through the broken slats of a wooden pallet being used to transfer the parts from his flat-bed trailer to a forklift. The worker suffered knee and shoulder injuries as a result of the fall. Significant factual issues existed concerning the way the pallet was being used prior to the fall. The injured worker testified that he and the defendant-customer’s parts manager had agreed to use a forklift with a wooden pallet on the forks to raise the injured worker to the bed of his truck when the worker fell through the wooden slats. By contrast, the defendant’s witnesses testified that the injured worker unilaterally decided to run and jump onto the wooden pallet as it was being raised. The defendant also contested the extent of the worker’s injuries attributable to the work accident due to an “unrelated” slip and fall at a department store that occurred following the work accident.
Overcoming significant contributory negligence arguments by the defense, Stutman Law was able to demonstrate that the customer’s lack of forklift training and supervision by the customer’s parts manager played a significant role in causing the injured worker’s injuries. Also, citing decades old precedent in Illinois concerning “related injuries” for workers’ compensation claims, Stutman Law prevailed in its arguments that the defendant was responsible for all of the worker’s injuries – including the injuries sustained in the department store fall – because the re-injury of his knee from the slip and fall at the department store occurred because the worker was using crutches at the time from his original injuries.
This matter is a significant success for the workers’ compensation insurer because the injured worker’s case was rejected by two personal injury law firms before being resurrected by the workers’ compensation insurer prior to the expiration of the statute of limitations. It is a great example of aggressive subrogation and recovery claims practices in a situation that easily could have been closed without any recovery at all. Winning the battle to keep this lawsuit in plaintiff-friendly Chicago was a significant victory for this insurer, who ultimately recovered more than $300,000 in workers’ compensation lien.