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Case Studies: Workers’ Compensation

Mr. Strom is an experienced Chicago workers’ compensation attorney who fights for injured workers! Even when all facts in a case points to a denial of benefits, we look for ways to turn a case around providing workers’ compensation benefits to injured workers.

Colleen Cavanaugh

Colleen Cavanaugh is a 46-year-old Social Worker at a state mental hospital. She has devoted her life to working with special needs patients.

One of her patients assaulted her, causing severe and permanent injury to her right arm. She had surgery on her right arm and after her surgery she had many complications resulting in her having no use of her right arm.

She was diagnosed with dystonia. Dystonia is not necessarily caused by trauma.

Mr. Strom worked closely with Colleen’s doctors and proved her localized dystonia, a muscle disease like M.S. or Parkinson’s, might have played a factor in her condition.

Mr. Strom won an award for all past due temporary total disability benefits and medical care.

Colleen Cavanaugh is confined to a wheelchair and is severely disabled. She is grateful for Mr. Strom’s hard work.

Mr. Strom stated: “This case presented an ultimate challenge. Our research team worked countless hours finding information about dystonia caused by trauma to tie up the loose ends.”

Raphael Esparza

Mr. Strom settles Workers’ Compensation Claim after winning at trial.

Mr. Strom went to trial for Raphael Esparza for his profound physical injuries to his chest and arm. At trial, evidence was produced that Raphael Esparza also suffered from extreme psychological injuries due to his chronic pain resulting from his physical injuries. The insurance company lawyers tried to show his emotional or psychological injuries were not from his injury but from the breakup of his marriage.

Mr. Strom demonstrated through expert medical testimony Raphael Esparza’s marriage was torn apart from his physical injuries.

Mr. Strom won Raphael Esparza a permanent total disability award for life. The case was later settled for over $500,000.

Raphael Esparza has expressed his gratitude by writing to Mr. Strom:

“You are our savior. We can never thank you enough for what you did for our family.”

Enrique Lopez

Mr. Lopez sustained severe knee injuries on construction site as an insulator. He underwent multiple knee surgeries that left him with severe disabilities that prohibited him from returning to his union carpenter job making a very good living.

Mr. Lopez was an undocumented worker and the employer and Workers’ Compensation insurance company refused to provide vocational training for Mr. Lopez’ arguing he could not legally work in the United States.

Mr. Strom prepared for trial. Telemundo, a Spanish affiliation of NBC 5, Chicago, interviewed Mr. Lopez and Mr. Strom about the case, and it was featured as the head story on their 5 o’clock news.

Mr. Lopez was a very good man and allowed Mr. Strom to fearlessly fight for him even risking deportation.

We argued Mr. Lopez had lost his trade and he had lost wages from his accident.

Mr. Strom secured a large lump sum settlement for Mr. Lopez who was very pleased.

As a result of Mr. Lopez and Mr. Strom working closely together, Mr. Lopez now owns his own business and we are happy to report doing very well.

Anthony Calvin

Mr. Cavin sustained serious injury to his dominant right hand. He was a gymnastics instructor with the Chicago Park District.

He had two surgeries which limited the use of his hand. His doctors told him he had to give up gymnastics. He knew no other way to make a living since he was involved in gymnastics since being a young man. Mr. Cavin, now 37, has had a terrible time finding work.

Mr. Strom hired a Vocational Rehabilitation counselor to work with Mr. Cavin to identify possible job opportunities and guide Mr. Cavin in his job search.

Mr. Strom took the case to trial claiming Mr. Cavin no longer could work in his $42,000 a year job with the Park District. Mr. Strom identified job opportunities for Mr. Cavin, however, he would only be able to earn $480.00 weekly as opposed to the $807.00 weekly with the Park District.

The Judge awarded Mr. Cavin two-thirds of the difference between what Mr. Cavin would have been making at the Park District or $807.69 weekly, and $480.00 what he could make, or $218.40 weekly for life.

Mr. Cavin is now entitled to $11,360 yearly tax free for life.

Jerzy Wazydrag

Jerzy Wazydrag fell 20 feet from a basket at work while changing an industrial air conditioner. He was rushed to the hospital suffering from severe permanent head injuries. He really has never regained consciousness and has permanent brain damage.

While hospitalized, everything was done to make him comfortable, but his outlook to make a recovery was poor.

He was discharged from the hospital to a nursing home. Things went from bad to worse.

While in the nursing home, despite the constant attentiveness of his loving and caring wife, he developed horrible bed sores. These sores were so bad he had to be taken back to the hospital for surgery because they became infected.

After multiple hospitalizations over a two-year period, he went home.

Mr. Strom’s involvement helped the family. First, he checked his weekly compensation checks and discovered he was being underpaid resulting in a $100 weekly increase. Second, Mr. Strom arranged for 24 hour per day, 7 days a week nursing care on site at Jerzy Wazydrag’s home. This will be provided for life. He arranged for the home to be accommodated for a disabled person providing the necessary changes to his bathroom, his deck, and his back yard, and an elevator was installed.

Jerzy Wazydrag currently lives with his wife and children in his home. He receives weekly compensation checks and 100% of his medical care is paid for by Workers’ Compensation. This will be paid for life.

Kathy Kratochvil

Liberty Mutual, the Workers’ Compensation Insurance Company paid on this Claim but sent her to a doctor who claimed she was not hurt as bad as she claimed.

She is a wonderful woman who has worked all her life when was sustained an injury to her lower back.

Her doctor recommended surgery. The Workers’ Compensation Insurance Company sent her to two doctors who said she was fine and could return to work.

Mr. Strom traveled to Woodstock, Illinois to go to trial. When he arrived he suggested prior to trial that a pre-trial conference be held to discuss the case.

As a result of Mr. Strom’s hours of preparation, persuasive and persistent negotiation, the Judge recommended Kathy have her recommended surgery so she could feel better and return to her job.

Mr. Strom said, “We had a great client and we prepared well. Nothing is a substitute for hard work.”

John Costello

This case was denied by the Workers’ Compensation Insurance Company. A trial was held 01/15/2008.

Mr. Costello injured his back at work. He thought it was numbness caused by the cold, damp work area. When he arrived home he noticed excruciating pain in his low back and legs and remembered that he felt pain at work the night before.

He tried with difficulty to get out of bed and walk down four or five stairs, however, his legs gave out from under him. He called work to report his injury. He was rushed to the hospital by ambulance. He unfortunately told the hospital “he fell down the stairs at home”.

The case went to trial and we subpoenaed his boss, the Safety Manager of his company, and the owner of his company.

Mr. Strom effectively cross examined Costello’s boss, Safety Manager and owner. The case was won on cross examination where we learned there were surveillance cameras in the area where Costello worked that were activated by motion.

Mr. Costello’s company produced a security video tape. We argued that based on his company’s representation of the video being motion activated, it showed Mr. Costello and the people that he worked with, only worked 16 minutes in a 24 hour period.

The Judge ruled that they were not believable and granted Mr. Costello temporary total disability (two-thirds of his wage for his time off work) medical (about $60,000), and granted Mr. Costello the right to have lower back surgery. He now is recovering and will be eligible for a lump sum.

Gabriel Gaviria

Gabriel was a chef at a major downtown hotel. He severely injured two of his fingers in a work accident when they got caught in a food grinder.

The employer and their Workers’ Compensation Insurance Company refused to pay Gabriel his Workers’ Compensation for his lost time, and pay for his medical expenses because they claimed Gabriel violated a work safety rule.

Mr. Strom filed a Motion for an Emergency Hearing, and went to trial, and fearlessly tried the case within weeks of his injury. Mr. Strom and Gabriel wanted to teach his employer a lesson for their refusal to pay so Mr. Strom sent a Process Server to the insurance company to make the insurance adjuster come to the trial and meet Mr. Gaviria and see how she punished him wrongfully.

Mr. Strom won the case and was awarded all past due Temporary Total Disability, all outstanding medical care bills, future medical care, the right to additional Temporary Total Disability, and the right to receive a Lump Sum Award.

Mr. M vs. Eagle Freight Services

Challenge: Mr. M, a 44-year-old truck driver, sustained severe injuries to his lower back while driving his truck as an “alleged” independent contractor for Eagle Freight Services. The challenge was that Eagle Freight Services claimed Mr. M was an independent contractor. Independent contractors are not covered by worker’s compensation while employees are covered. The control of the employer is the key issue to solve.

Solution: As a result of our extensive investigation, and issuing of subpoenas, along with the help of witnesses and co-workers we able to develop evidence that established a strong level of proof that Mr. M was indeed an employee, and not an independent contractor as Eagle Freight Service claimed. We demonstrated how much control Eagle had over Mr. M.

Outcome: Once able to persuade Eagle Freight Service that Mr. M was an employee, we had to fight Eagle and force them to hire an attorney. They fired their first two attorneys, but once the third lawyer got involved, we were able to persuade Eagle to pay a significant six figure lump sum to Mr. M. Eagle paid the money directly, out of the company coffers, as they had no insurance.

Testimonial: “… We are grateful to Mr. Strom for solving this difficult case. The money changed our lives and we took our first vacation as a family in 10 years…” ~ Mr. M

Mr. J vs. Perfection Painting

Mr. J was a union painter that was working at the International Mercantile Exchange in Chicago. While painting, Mr. J sustained a dime sized laceration on his outer bicep from a rusty nail that was sticking out from the wall. Thinking nothing of the small cut Mr. J continued his work. Excited to have finished his job at the end of the week, he planned a getaway to Florida. Upon his return from Florida, Mr. J was suffering from flu like symptoms. That same day he checked himself into a hospital in Kankakee. After extensive medical testing, Mr. J was diagnosed with sepsis. Unfortunately, ten days after his accident Mr. J passed away while being transported to Loyola Medical Center in Maywood, IL.

Challenge: To prove that the dime shaped laceration Mr. J sustained while working was the cause of his death.

Solution: To establish that the small dime sized laceration could provide a port (opening) for the infection to gain access to Mr. J’s body and attack his organs. In order to develop this case, Strom & Associates hired a renowned pathology expert from Northwestern Medical School. Working with the pathologist, and investigating tissue samples, we were able to establish that the small opening from the laceration was a port that allowed the sepsis to enter his body.

Outcome: Although, Mr. J’s family lost the breadwinner of their home, they received a significant settlement that helped them pay off all medical bills and preserve their home, making their lives a little more bearable.

Testimonial: “When we visited Neal Strom we had no idea of the legal possibilities. He creatively found ways to solve a difficult case for us…” ~ Mrs. J

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