Spicer Rudstrom attorney Thomas J. Smith recently obtained a judgment at trial in favor of his client in a workers’ compensation case involving an employee’s shoulder injury. Tom represents this client, a Fortune 500 company, for all workers’ compensation matters in Tennessee. The trial involved an employee who suffered a work injury to his right shoulder. The employer accepted the claim and provided proper medical treatment to the employee, but at the conclusion of the authorized medical treatment, the employee was not satisfied and sought further medical treatment from a non-authorized medical provider. This medical treatment was extensive and included a right shoulder arthroplasty (shoulder replacement). Following surgery, the employee missed several months of work.

At trial, the employee sought workers’ compensation benefits for permanent disability and temporary disability benefits for the several months he was off work, as well as medical benefits to include the cost of future medical benefits that would likely include a future shoulder replacement. The issue at trial was whether or not the need for the shoulder replacement surgery was caused primarily by the work injury. Tom argued that the need for the shoulder surgery was primarily caused by the employee’s extensive osteoarthritis in his shoulder, as opposed to the work injury. The employee’s attorney and his medical expert argued that the work injury was the primary cause of the need for surgery.

The judge agreed with Tom and therefore ruled in favor of the employer on all issues.As a result, the employee was not awarded any additional benefits at trial, and Tom’s client avoided having to pay out benefits that would have totaled in excess of $100,000. Prior to trial, the employee refused an offer of $50,000 to settle the claim on a disputed basis. Instead, the employee elected to proceed to trial, and the judge awarded him nothing.

Tom is a trial attorney and an adviser to Spicer Rudstrom’s business and insurance clients. He is the managing member of the firm’s Nashville office. He focuses his practice in workers’ compensation, insurance defense, construction litigation, products liability and trucking/transportation litigation.