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Accident Disabled Trucker Seeks Grant Money After Workers Comp Rejection

by Johnny Skinner
(Waurika, Oklahoma, USA)

My life of disability started when I suffered a work-related accident May 25, 2010 at about 8:00 pm.

I was working nights, as a saltwater hauler for Coffman's Tank Truck Service out of Chico, Texas. Life was good, bringing home $1800 every two weeks.

As an ex-police officer, I wanted to extend my career in law enforcement and obtain my criminal justice degree to become a probation officer.

To do this, I had to make a lot of money over a three-year period to pay my tuition.

I had been working for Coffman's about a month and a half when dispatch sent me to a location in Tarrant County, Texas to pull 130 barrels of saltwater off of a tank.

Of course I was working alone, as all saltwater haulers do. I was walking toward my semi-truck after gauging my tank when I stepped off an eight-inch drop off that I didn't see.

The gravel slid both my feet out from under me and I fell to the ground hard. I had a pipe wrench in my left hand and as I was falling I twisted to my left to catch my fall.

I struck my left elbow on the top edge of some galvanized flat sheet metal with the weight of the pipe wrench in my hand. I blew out my elbow and my lower back and twisted my left ankle.

I lay on the ground for about 20 minutes, scared to get up. I had left my cell phone in my truck, and looked around for someone to help me up.

I heard my back pop loudly. No one was around. I finally got up on my own, hurting, and finished my task at hand.

I drove one hour to a disposal in shock. There at the disposal I found the man that trained me and reported what happened and finished my night of working.

The next evening, I filled out an accident report. Then came the Texas Workers' Compensation process. What a joke. I was called a liar, and fired.

The Texas Mutual Insurance company sent me to their doctor and he gave me a 0% impairment rating and MMI (maximum medical improvement) on the spot.

The judge decreed I wasn't hurt on the job! I was railroaded all the way.

This is even with a neurosurgeon stating I had two bulged disks and three pinched nerves in my back and my elbow. X-rays showed bone spurs and an EMG showed ulnar neuropathy and entrapment.

I'm 52 years old, God-fearing, and the most honest man you'd want to meet. My wife and I are now feeling feelings we should have never had to feel.

I haven't been capable of passing a pre-employment physical to go back to work. I've been injured for two years and have no financial help.

I'm a proud man that doesn't like to ask anyone for anything. Besides, who truly cares about me and my wife.

I sure do need the truth to prevail!

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Apr 21, 2012
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And justice isn't so quick either...
by: johnny skinner

Ken,

I have talked to seven Workers' Comp attorneys. Six of them said, "After you lost in court, we don't believe we want your case due to expenses." I explained to the seventh attorney that I was receiving epidural injections, and that it's a shame and a downright disgrace that the state of Oklahoma was assuming Texas Mutual Insurance company's responsibility. He then made the statement for $5,000, he'd take my case, but only if the doctors have to do surgery if the epidurals go south. My problem is that even though my wife is working, I'm not. We're barely paying our bills and not all of them. I can't afford to fight them even though I so badly want to do it, because I know I'm in the right. I won't stop searching for a way, but it sure looks like a major expense from where I'm sitting now. I have in God.

Johnny

Apr 20, 2012
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Justice isn't so Just
by: Ken

Hey Johnny,

Thanks for your comment. It sounds like you got a typical "Ambulance Chaser." She probably knew that you would lose your case and was hoping that you would appeal, so she could charge you double. I don't know if I would give up yet; there are many lawyers down there that might take it on. Just make sure you have everything in writing. Your story needs to include all the details, everything exactly as it happened. Also, get witnesses to sign your statement. Sadly, the justice system doesn't seem to work that well for the average Joe. We need an entire review of it, but it's the rich who review it, so the average Joe could lose again. Keep strong, Johnny!

Ken

Apr 20, 2012
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Attorney turn down.
by: johnny skinner

I just wanted to say, "Thank you Ken for the person you are!" I contacted a Texas attorney this morning and they acted like since I lost in court they don't want to touch my case. I guess I never realized how "greed" changes people. So much for rights and wrongs. God bless you Ken. I have always believed when one door closes another opens. This too I shall overcome, 'cause I'm me and "God don't make no junk!"

Apr 20, 2012
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More trucking details.
by: johnny skinner

I know my attorney dropped the ball. She only had dollar signs in her eyes and not my welfare in mind. All I asked for was my health, and my quality of life back, whatever that might be. After court, my attorney stated we could appeal the judge's decision, and that would cost $10,000. I gasped for a moment and thought, well I don't have that much money, and all of that for the truth. I won't be able to afford to fight for the truth and the insurance company knew and hoped for it. Man, i've lost a lot of faith in doctors and humanity through this and that's sad.

Apr 19, 2012
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Court sport. Tag, you're it.
by: Ken

Hi Johnny,

I think your lawyer dropped the ball. Why did he not have all involved served with a subpoena to witness? I would probably complain to the Law Society about your lawyer. You had no defense, no chance. You may have time to appeal, but talk to a lawyer first, after you call the Law Society about the conduct of the lawyer. Just make sure you have all the names, x-rays and all pertinent information on hand. This is a lot of work, but could be worth it.

Good luck,
Ken

Apr 19, 2012
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More to the story...
by: johnny skinner

As a matter of fact I did tell the man who trained me at the job when I went to the disposal when I unloaded the load. I told him what happened and that I was hurting in my back and elbow, he said to turn around. I did. Then he stated, 'Yep, you sure did; your whole backside is filthy." Then he said, "But you better keep your mouth shut, or lose your job!"

So I did, till I couldn't put on my work boots the next evening. I drove to work when I finally did get them on, and yes I did tell my wife that evening. And I told her, "I'm going to report it because I'm scared of what's going to happen to me."

When I got to work, I spoke to my boss on the telephone. He said to take three days off, get well, and get back to work. I filled out an accident report that evening and my boss didn't turn it into Workers Compensation for a month and a half after the accident. I have the MRI and X-rays plus doctors' documentation stating I did it on the job.

I still lost in court even with an attorney and I was never able to speak in court about what happened. There was no witness there when I fell other than my Lord and he knows. All saltwater haulers work alone.

Apr 19, 2012
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Complex Comp
by: Ken

Hi Johnny,

Where you dropped off your load did you talk to anyone at the site? Did you complain to anyone about what happened that night? In other words, did you have any witnesses? That is so important. Did you tell your wife? Did your doctor see the injury? Do you have a copy of his findings, and would they be consistent with the findings of the incident? These are some of the things that a lawyer may ask you to do, if you should try to appeal the judge's ruling. If you still think there is a chance to explain yourself, why you did what you did, it may be worth a call to a lawyer. Many give you a free consult.

Good luck,
Ken

Apr 19, 2012
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Good intentions...
by: Don from Accessible.org

Hi Johnny,

It sounds like you're the kind of guy who persists no matter what the hardship. It makes me think of the Japanese gymnast who successfully completed his performance on the rings during the 1976 Olympics, even though he had previously broken his ankle. He overcame the pain and made a perfect landing.

Now if you had had legal training or maybe previous experience in disability claims, I'm sure you would have made no effort to complete your job. You would have crawled to your truck, leaving evidence of the slithering on the ground, grabbed your phone and called 911.

Because you chose to finish your work, your case no longer looked legitimate to WC, Texas Insurance and the legal system.

It's unfortunate, but the good thing is that you yourself know how to overcome adversity, to keep on keeping on in spite of the circumstances. That should serve you well in the future.

All the best!
Don from Accessible.org

Apr 18, 2012
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Disabled trucker replies...
by: johnny skinner

Why did I not call 911? In fear that I was injured severely, I lay on the ground for nearly 20 minutes before I made myself get up. After I did get up, I walked around for a while hurting but I guess I convinced myself I was just badly bruised and too, didn't want to be hurt. I had left my cell phone in the cab of the truck. Had it been on me when I first fell, I probably would have called 911. But as I said, I thought I was just bunged up and bruised after I walked for awhile. I worked the night slowly, went home that morning, ate, showered and went to bed. When I awoke that evening, I couldn't bend over to put on my steel-toed boots. It's gone downhill from when it happened May 25, 2010. This is 2012, and it's worse now than then.

Apr 18, 2012
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Okay in OK
by: Ken

Hi Johnny,

If you were severely injured as you say, and you had your phone, why did you not call 911 instead of finishing your shift? This would not look good in front of insurance companies or a judge. We all make mistakes. It looks like you made a big one. You are lucky that you are a Registered American Indian, or you would be completely on your own, like many of us who do not have that luxury. If you disagree with the outcome of your dealings with the court system, I would recommend you get in touch with a Workers' Compensation Law Firm. You can find one on this list:

http://www.disabilitysecrets.com/wc-attorney-oklahoma.html#b

Good luck,
Ken

Apr 18, 2012
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More from the Disabled Trucker
by: johnny skinner

After seeing my own story published, I have to say that I'm ashamed to admit I'm from Texas after the lies, deceit and two-faced ethics from doctors, the Workers' Compensation process, Texas Mutual Insurance and the judge.

I have always lived by the saying, "A man is only as good as his word." Well, I told the God's honest truth and stood by the truth, only to find out the evilness that plagues the Texas Workers' Compensation process. Let God sort 'em out while I get to suffer from the injuries I sustained on the job for the rest of my life, with no compensation for it.

I'll give kudos to Oklahoma, though. As a registered American Indian, I have been going to the Lawton, Oklahoma Indian hospital receiving epidural injections in my back to try and regain some comfort. They were more than happy to help an honest injured man get back on top, which is more than Texas Mutual Insurance Co. would do. With that help, I'm hoping to be able to go back to work and take care of my life financially.

I'm not foolish enough to think that the majority of the common folks in Texas are at fault; it's the Workers' Compensation system. God bless the working man and woman in Texas. Just don't get hurt on the job or you'll be forever screwed.

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