October 29, 2020

Workers’ Compensation

The plaintiff/claimant in Robert Baumgardner v. Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission, et al., injured his knee on April 8, 1996 while working for Cook County.  He was diagnosed with a torn lateral meniscus and underwent surgery.  He returned to work in October 1996 and then six months later, in April 1997, the plaintiff injured his knee again, once at home and again later that month while working.  He returned to work in May 1997, with doctor’s instructions to wear a knee brace.  His physician then restricted the plaintiff to avoid working on inclines or ditches.  The county did not accommodate the restriction and a year later, he repeatedly fell three separate times.  The County finally reassigned him to a light duty position and he received a wage differential.  In 2002, the plaintiff had to have knee replacement surgery.

The plaintiff went to a consolidated arbitration for the three separate incidents—asking each side to propose a decision.  The arbitrator awarded him 53 weeks of temporary total disability benefits based on the 1996 injury, and they awarded him an additional 53 weeks for the May 1998 injury.  The claimant was also awarded a wage differential for the duration of his disability.  Both parties asked for a review from the Illinois Workers Compensation Commission.  The IWCC affirmed the 1996 award and reduced the 1998 award to 13 weeks and 2/7th

“Because the claimant suffered multiple injuries to the same body part as a result of successive accidents and those claims were tried together,” the court wrote, “the commission properly evaluated the totality of the evidence as it related to the claimant’s overall condition of ill-being at the time of the hearing and entered a single award that encompassed the full extent of the disability resulting from both the April 1996 and the May 1998 injuries.” See Robert Baumgardner v. Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission, et al., No. 1-10-0727WC

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