19 February, 2024

Bozeman Creatively Builds Expert Testimony to Refute Exaggerated Permanent Disability Claims Saving BIG for County & Insurer

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In: Verdicts

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Quintairos, Prieto, Wood, & Boyer, P.A.'s Pensacola-Hub Managing Partner, Frank C. Bozeman, meticulously analyzed medical records, presented compelling evidence, and skillfully cross-examined witnesses to vigorously defend our client against exaggerated permanent disability claims.

Case Overview

  • Bozeman obtained a Final Order Denying Claimant's Petition for Permanent Total Disability benefits. The claimant was a bulldozer driver for County when he was involved in an accident injuring his left hand. The claimant had worked as a bulldozer driver for most of his career.
  • The claimant underwent pain management treatment and several courses of physical therapy and was treated by an Orthopedic Surgeon and a Pain Management Doctor up until the time of the Final Hearing in November 2023.

Key Details

  • Despite medical treatment, the claimant, aged 55 with an 11th-grade education, sought Permanent Total Disability benefits, claiming an inability to continue working and lack of available work due to limitations within a 50-mile radius of residence.

Medical Assessments and Testimonies

  • The claimant referred to the injuries to their hand as having reduced bones to "corn flakes" and their hand as "dead".
  • The first surgeon noted a fracture with routine healing and later discharged the claimant with a 5% impairment rating, stating the pain reactions were out of proportion and no work restrictions were applied.
  • A second surgeon made a similar determination and allowed for work with heavy machinery under certain restrictions.
  • The claimant then went to the extreme measure of obtaining an FCE from a Physical Therapist who worked in a Chiropractor's office which placed the Claimant at a sedentary level of work capacity. The claimant had his IME doctor adopt the FCE and thereby argued that the Claimant's restrictions included sedentary or sub-sedentary levels.
  • The claimant also offered a Vocational Expert who determined that there were no jobs within a 50-mile radius of the Claimant's residence or in the national economy which the Claimant was qualified to perform and that the Claimant had no transferable skills.

Challenges Against the Client

  • The defense strategy included illumination of inconsistencies in the claimant's testimony and evidence from Social Security Disability records.
  • Discovery revealed the claimant's involvement in activities conflicting with disability claims and continuation of work on a cattle ranch they owned.
  • The defense offered both a Vocational Evaluation Expert and a Labor Market Survey Expert.

Legal Proceedings and Evidence

  • Social Security Disability records and tax returns through legal motions, revealing the claimant's ability to perform activities and manage a cattle-raising business.
  • Experts and testimony exposed activities conflicting with claims of total disability resulting in the rejection of IME doctor's testimony in favor of treating original Orthopedic Surgeon opinions, and clarity from vocational experts provided conflicting reports on the claimant's ability to work.
  • One of the authorized treating doctors had accepted 15 of the jobs provided by the Vocational Expert which the Judge accepted.
  • The judge accepted the testimony of the defense's Labor Market Survey Expert who determined that the Claimant had transferable skills and a healthy vocational history. The Expert also found light-duty jobs and medium-duty jobs available within a 50-mile radius of the Claimant's residence in which they claimed none were available.

Win for the Employer and Insurer

  • The Judge rejected the claimant's permanent disability assertions and accepted the testimony of defense experts, determining the claimant had transferable skills and could perform jobs that were available to them within a 50-mile radius.
  • -The Employer and Carrier will seek litigation costs from the claimant, emphasizing the integrity of the legal process.

Predicting the Future

  • This case demonstrates the firm's ability to effectively dispute permanent total disability claims by meticulously gathering and presenting evidence that questions the claimant's inability to work.
  • Future clients can expect a robust defense strategy that involves a detailed investigation into claimants' claims and the use of multidisciplinary expert testimonies to challenge unfounded disability claims.

About QPWB

Quintairos, Prieto, Wood & Boyer, P.A., is the largest minority and women-owned law firm in the nation with jurisdiction in 45 states and territories in the U.S. allowing us to serve a broad spectrum of industries with over 100 areas of practice. Our lawyers provide representation for businesses and their leaders in litigation, regulatory, and corporate matters.

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