We are excited to announce a major win secured by Jones Jones LLC Attorney Samantha Sokoloff. This win highlights:
- The aggressive approach needed on occupational disease claims that are filed after a regular retirement has been taken by a claimant;
- The need for a knowledgeable and aggressive litigation plan on potential high dollar schedule loss of use claims; and
- The importance of bringing to the Board’s attention that the burden of demonstrating a link between an alleged condition and distinctive feature of employment is on solely on the claimant.
Attorney Samantha Sokoloff recently litigated a New York State workers’ compensation claim involving an retired public transit worker. This particular claimant had worked with a transit authority for almost 30 years in a somewhat physically demanding job. After the claimant took a regular retirement, he then proceeded to file a workers’ compensation claim alleging occupational disease to the legs, ankles, and feet.
With no witness available, Attorney Sokoloff was able to execute a stellar cross-examination of the claimant. With this testimony, she was able to highlight to the Law Judge that the claimant had not lost any time from work prior to his retirement due to any pain or injury to any of the alleged body parts. She was also able to have the claimant concede that he had not seen a doctor about these alleged conditions until after his regular retirement began and that he had a choice to take a disability type of retirement but declined to go that route. Attorney Sokoloff asked that claimant whether he had ever discussed the alleged physical injuries with his primary physician; to which he said he had not. Finally, the claimant was unable to articulate as to what his job duties with his employer was and how he was unable to perform them anymore.
Upon summations, Attorney Sokoloff argued to the Law Judge that the claimant had failed to demonstrate a recognizable link between his condition and a distinctive feature of his employment. Additionally, the testimony of the claimant’s treating doctor was also highlighted during summations. The doctor had failed to know any specifics about the claimant’s work history or medical treatment history. The Law Judge disallowed the claim entirely based upon the winning litigation strategy of Attorney Sokoloff.
This is an important win to consider as there has been an increasing trend within the workers’ compensation system of retirees seeking numerous and high value schedule loss of use awards for occupational diseases. Many of these claims involve no treatment nor notice of any such injury or condition until after the claimant has successfully retired from employment. Additionally, many of these claims involve a number of body parts that are amendable to a schedule loss of use finding for permanency. This could equate to a large lump sum award to the claimant post retirement when there is simply a lack of evidence to support any such claim up until their retirement is confirmed. Due to the high value of these potential claims, it is important to defend post-retiree occupational disease claims with an aggressive approach. The attorneys of Jones Jones LLC are prepared to navigate these retirement and occupational disease claims with you every step of the way. The same aggressive and detailed approach that Attorney Sokoloff applied on this case will be applied to your caseload as well.
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