HAMBERGER & WEISS LLP defeats bid for benefits made only when claimant was about to be shown the door!

While most claims made under the Workers’ Compensation Law in New York are legitimate, some claimants attempt to use the law in retaliation for legitimate job action. Tori Hahn of our firm successfully prevented a claimant from using the law in this way. After developing the record, the claim for benefits was disallowed at both the Law Judge and appeal panel levels.

There is no doubt that the claimant in this case had an accident at work. She fell to the floor, and the fall was witnessed by coworkers. At the same time, however, the claimant quickly rose to her feet and said that she was fine. She did not seek medical attention for what she claimed was a significant shoulder injury until at least 4 months later, and did not formally report a work-related injury until more than 11 months after the fall.

Tori was able to add to the record credible testimony from our client’s consulting physician. The doctor testified that the serious rotator cuff tear the claimant alleged would have compelled her to seek medical attention immediately after the fall and not months later. Also in the record was a report from the claimant’s primary care physician a few months after the injury, where she advised she had no complaints of pain at the time. This directly contradicted the claimant’s incredible testimony.

In addition to the medical testimony, Tori was able to obtain credible testimony from an employer witness noting that the claimant’s job performance was deteriorating at the same time she initially made her claim for a significant injury. The claimant was placed on a performance improvement plan and eventually terminated when she did not meet her performance goals.

The Law Judge and the panel on appeal were impressed by both the lack of medical evidence contemporaneous with the fall documenting a serious injury, and the timing of her claim of a serious injury in denying the claimant benefits.

While our firm recognizes that injured workers should receive just compensation for their legitimate injuries, we remain vigilant in assisting our clients in defeating claims where unscrupulous claimants attempt to use the law for illegitimate purposes.

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