Nebraska Workers’ Compensation Court Awards Custom Wheelchairs, Sleep Number Bed, and Wheelchair Accessible Van to Employee
On Aug. 27, the Nebraska Workers’ Compensation Court awarded the plaintiff in Simmons v. Precast Haulers, Inc., Doc. 212 No. 0087 (2013), a custom light weight wheelchair, an electric/powered wheelchair, a Sleep Number bed, and a wheelchair accessible van, among other extensive medical and attorney’s fee awards. Neb. Rev. Stat § 48-120 provides: “the employer is liable for all reasonable medical, surgical, and hospital services, including… appliances, supplies, prosthetic devices, and medicines as and when needed, which are required by the nature of the injury and which will relieve pain or promote and hasten the employee’s restoration to health and employment….”
In Simmons, the plaintiff was working on a trailer when he slipped on loose gravel, fell, and was run over by the trailer, sustaining substantial injuries. Plaintiff presented evidence from his treating physicians that he required a custom light weight manual wheelchair, a custom powered/electric wheelchair, a Sleep Number bed, and a wheelchair accessible van. The Court noted that Defendants were informed of the physicians’ recommendations for the devices almost immediately after they were made, yet Defendants never paid for the items and never provided a wheelchair for the plaintiff until a few weeks prior to the trial, when they provided him a wheelchair which did not conform to any of the specifications set out by the plaintiff’s physicians.
This case shows the importance of employers consulting an attorney as soon as they know of a possible workers’ compensation claim, as damages often exceed what the employer might expect and can be exacerbated by late or nonpayment. For more information about employers’ potential liability in workers’ compensation claims, please contact any of the workers’ compensation attorneys at Baylor Evnen at (402) 475-1075.