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A Claimant Wins on Appeal to the Commission

by | Oct 25, 2022 | Worker's Compensation |

In a case involving a plumber who injured himself at work, the Commission awarded him worker’s compensation benefits on appeal, after he was denied benefits at arbitration (where it was also asserted by the arbitrator that no work accident had occurred). See Plumber proves entitlement to 15% PPD award for shoulder injury. Illinois Workers’ Compensation Law Bulletin, Volume 29, Issue 8, June 25, 2021, p. 6.[1] The case discussed in the article, Donato v. HD Plumbing & Heating, 29 ILWCLB 85 (Ill. W.C. Comm. 2021), involved a plumber who was injured when he fell off a ladder while installing new plumbing in a residential subdivision. When the plumber fell, his left arm became stuck on attic joists of a new house, and in his medical treatment records, it was consistently demonstrated (including in an MRI of his shoulder) that the plumber had suffered a torn rotator cuff, along with impingement syndrome, bicep tendonitis with bicep tendon subluxation, and degeneration of the labrum.[2] The plumber underwent surgery about three months later, with physical therapy following soon thereafter, and with the plumber also requesting a release from work restrictions five months after surgery, so he could resume his work duties. At hearing, the arbitrator inexplicably found that the plumber did not prove that his injury occurred while he was in the course of his employment.[3] On review, the Commission completely reversed the arbitrator’s decision, and found that the plumber had fully established that he had indeed suffered a work-related accident. The Commission analyzed the plumber’s general physical condition under Section 8.1(b) of the Illinois Worker’s Compensation Act, to determine both the nature and extent of his disability and found that the plumber suffered a 15% loss of use of the person as a whole. The Commission’s analysis, under Section 8.1(b), in making its permanency determination for the plumber, was as follows: the Commission gave modest weight to the plumber’s AMA impairment rating of 4%, as well as some weight to the plumber’s age (61 years when his accident occurred), since the plumber’s injuries would have more of an impact on his ability to work, due to his age, while the Commission gave no weight to the plumber’s future earning capacity, as there was no proof that he was unable to make a living.[4] The Commission gave greater weight to the plumber’s occupation, since he could no longer perform overhead work and was constantly in pain, and it also gave greater weight to the final factor under Section 8.1(b) – evidence of the plumber’s disability – as he was constantly in considerable pain, especially while he was working, and also because the plumber had received no treatment since he was released by his physician.[5] As a result, the Commission awarded the plumber 15 percent loss of the person as a whole, as aforesaid.[6] This must have been a relief for the plumber, as both the nature of his injuries and the type of work that he was engaged in meant that he should receive some type of permanency award from the Commission.

[1]Plumber proves entitlement to 15% PPD award for shoulder injury. Illinois Workers’ Compensation Law Bulletin, Volume 29, Issue 8, June 25, 2021, p. 6.

[2]See Id.

[3]See Id.

[4]See Id.

[5]See Id.

[6]See Id.