Rich worked for a subcontractor adding onto a steel building in Spartanburg. As he stood on a roof, a fellow worker handed him a large section of gutter to install. As Rich lifted it up, it either struck a high voltage power line or voltage arced down the gutter into Rich.
As electrocutions go, Rich was lucky- he didn’t get burned to a crisp. But life changed forever in an instant. His whole body felt it, leaving him stunned. His hands, fingers, feet, and toes went numb. As he recovered his senses, his right foot erupted in searing pain. His sock had a burned hole in it with black edges. Removing it revealed a burn on his right foot. He had a burn on his right hand the size of a nickel, plus burns on his fingertips. Another burn shot from his right wrist up to his elbow where it looked like paint from the gutter seared into his arm.
Rich underwent almost two years of extensive medical treatment, including hospitalization when the foot burn got infected, orthopedists, a neurologist, and pain management. By the time he reached maximum medical improvement so we could try to settle his case, Rich remained hounded by intense pain and unending numbness/tingling. He needed the maximum dose of the nerve pain drug Lyrica. The pain doctor described Rich’s pain as distracting to adequate performance of daily activities or work. The neurologist concluded he suffered permanent nerve damage to both hands and feet.
Rich’s primary goal for his case was future medical care for his work injuries. In response, the worker’s compensation insurance company offered around $45,000. The insurance company felt that “should cover him until he gets Social Security disability.”
At mediation, we dug our heels in the ground. We informed the mediator we wouldn’t settle without the insurance company agreeing to future medical care.
Sensing the truth of our assertion, the insurance company agreed.We spent the rest of the mediation hammering out a financial settlement, finally accepting $95,000.