Adjuster X

Let’s Go to the Video Tape

By: | April 8, 2015

This column is based on the experiences of a group of long-time claims adjusters. The situations they describe are real, but the names and key details are kept confidential. Michelle Kerr is the editor of this column and can be reached at [email protected]

“I hurt my back when I attempted to pick up a box,” said Drew Tucker.

I was recording his statement about a low-back injury after the incident had been reported by his employer, Frank’s Lighting.

Drew, 37, had been employed by Frank’s Lighting for three years, as an order filler in the warehouse. I asked about the weight of the box.

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“It probably didn’t weigh over 25 pounds,” Drew said.

“It wasn’t so much the weight as much as that I twisted when I went to pick it up.” Drew reported the injury a few hours after the incident. He was now treating with an orthopedic physician.

After the interview, I drove to Frank’s Lighting. I spoke to Art Croft, who managed the warehouse operation.

Art said Drew had come to him around 2 p.m. on the date of the incident and reported he had injured his back at 10:15 a.m., while attempting to lift a box. Drew said he thought the pain would subside, but instead it got worse.

There were no witnesses who saw Drew injure his back. Art answered my question about Drew’s background by saying, “He’s a decent enough employee. Certainly no world-beater destined for the executive suite, but does the job.”

I asked him what he knew about Drew from a personal standpoint.

Art shrugged.

“Not much other than he’s a golf nut. Plays every chance he gets.”

I nodded.

“Yes, he mentioned that golf was his hobby. I suppose he won’t be visiting the links any time soon. Tough to swing a golf club with the type of low-back pain he says he’s experiencing.”

I called the physician’s office about the treatment regimen, and was told that Drew was authorized lost time, and that diagnostic tests were being arranged. They would be completed within the week.

In the meantime he was prescribed pain killers and anti-inflammatories, and told to stay in bed.

I checked back with the doctor’s office the next week. Drew’s MRI of the lumbosacral region did not reveal any gross abnormalities. The physician could not find objective symptoms to substantiate Drew’s complaints of intense low-back pain. He authorized continuing lost time and prescribed physical therapy.

I had authorized temporary total benefits to be paid, and placed the case on my diary for two weeks, by which time Drew would have undergone six physical therapy sessions.

I forgot about the case until Thursday evening when I was at my favorite watering hole for a pre-weekend happy hour ritual with a few claims-adjuster colleagues. Waitress service was nonexistent, so my colleague went up to the bar to order a round.

He returned with our drinks, frowning.

“Some people are just flat-out lucky,” he groused.

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“I was watching the news over at the bar. Some local guy played in a charity golf tournament this afternoon and sunk a hole-in-one on the 15th hole. He just won a week’s vacation in the Caribbean.”

I turned to look at the TV where the story was still on. Lo and behold, the winner of the hole-in-one vacation was none other than Drew Tucker! I got up to say my goodbyes.

“Where are you going?” my colleague asked. “It’s only 7:15.”

“I have to go home and record the next news show. If it makes you feel any better, hole-in-one guy isn’t nearly as lucky as you think.”

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The R&I Editorial Team can be reached at [email protected]