A Waukesha County man, injured on the job when he fell from a ladder, was awarded more than $700,000 in total benefits last month at the conclusion of a worker’s compensation action brought on his behalf by 2016 Super Lawyer John Gatzke and his New Berlin firm, Gatzke Law.
The victim, a 51 year old Muskego contractor, hired Gatzke following the accident which occurred in May, 2013 while he was inspecting a job site. He fell from a height of approximately 10 feet, severely injuring his back to the extent that he required two separate surgical fusions. The injury and subsequent treatment resulted in permanent disability.
Indemnity Insurance Company of North America was the worker compensation carrier in the case for the employer and Sedgwick acted as the claims administrator. Attorney Stephen Largent represented Indemnity.
Gatzke hired Michael J. Ewens to complete a vocational analysis of his client and to act as an expert witness at hearing. Indemnity Insurance hired Bruce Schuyler as its vocational expert in the case.
The most significant litigated issue in the case involved Gatzke’s claim that his client suffered a permanent total disability due to functional limitations following the fall. Indemnity challenged Gatzke’s assertion, claiming that the disability was only temporary in nature and that Gatzke’s client should have been able to return to work in some capacity.
Ultimately, the settlement represented a total of just over $725,000 in cash and benefits to Gatzke’s client, who was surprised with the result.
“Often times when we first meet with an injured employee, their impression is that they aren’t going to be successful because the employer and the insurance company have all the power, and all the money,” Gatzke said following the Division’s approval of the settlement. “We’re always confident that we’ll win, but I get the sense that the client is sometimes surprised when the system works and they get what they’re entitled to.”
The victim treated with Dr. Thomas Doers, who performed the initial surgery, a laminenctomy and fusion, in December 2013. That was followed by Dr. Arvind Ahuja who performed a decompression and fusion in June, 2015.
With the win, Gatzke, along with several other attorneys in his firm, have put together a string of some of the largest worker’s compensation and personal injury results in Waukesha County over the past year. Gatzke Law is a full-service law firm servicing clients all over southeastern Wisconsin with its primary office in New Berlin. The firm has been in operation for more than 25 years.