The claimant was traveling South when the Defendant, traveling West, failed to stop for a stop sign violating Claimant's right of way and causing Claimant to T-bone the Defendant. Airbag deployment, total loss vehicle, ambulance required, ER visit, bruising and laceration. Minimal follow-up care except for a CT scan.
The claimant was traveling East on a four-lane highway with two lanes going East and two lanes going West without a center median or divider. It was raining. The Defendant was driving West towards Claimant with his cruise control set which is something that should never be done in the rain or on wet surfaces. As he approached Claimant, he started up a small hill/incline. When his speed naturally slowed due to gravity, his cruise control caused his engine to accelerate to regain the speed lost due to the incline. His wheels started to spin and more speed was lost causing the cruise control to further increase power to the wheels. This caused his vehicle to lose control, cross the center line, and strike the Claimant in the driver's door as he/she attempted to steer right. Claimant suffered a 10 to 15 cm laceration about the left knee which required about 20 staples to close. Claimant also suffered significant bruising. He/she was non-weight bearing for some time and lost time from work. Medical treatment included an ambulance, ER visit, orthopedic follow-up, and physical therapy.
The claimant was 30 to 40 years old (a "younger" individual by SSA's definition) who alleged one or more mental disorders. He/she had a high school education and past work in the fast food industry which was "light" exertional level and "unskilled". The vocational expert found that Claimant could not return to his / her past work (Step 4). The issue then broadened (Step 5) to become whether the Claimant could perform any other work in the national economy based upon age, education, past work experience, and residual functional capacity.
After a hearing in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Mr. Walker was approved for disability benefits. I actually tried this claim twice. The first time we received an "Unfavorable" decision which means we were denied benefits. I appealed to the Appeals Council in Falls Church, Virginia, arguing the decision should be reversed. The Appeals Council agreed with me and remanded the matter back to Tulsa for a new hearing. At this hearing, Claimant testified that he had non-Hodgkins Lymphoma, in remission, and that he was required to undergo Gamma Globulin treatments each month to keep his lgG levels properly elevated. He has an IV port that he lives with for this treatment. He testified that after these treatments, he is physically drained for the following two or three days and cannot leave the house. Our argument was that he would miss approximately 36 days of work per year due to these treatments. The vocational expert testified that with this type of absenteeism, he would be unemployable.
Claimant injured his / her back bending and lifting. Initially, it was thought that the claimant had only strained his / her back, however, physical therapy and muscle relaxers did not solve the problem. MRI testing discovered a herniated disk in the lumbar spine. Injections were tried which only provided short-lived relief. He/she then underwent one or more surgeries. The insurance company made an offer to settle, however, they didn't want to pay our price, therefore, the matter was tried to a judge who awarded slightly in excess of $50,000.00 plus continuing medical maintenance for prescription medications and doctors visits.