Like most union workers in D.C., a Verizon cable and fiber optics installer has a physically demanding job. Lifting and carrying tools, equipment and cable, he is working outside, in tight spaces in and around houses and apartments in the DC metro area.
Working overhead, on a ladder is a must. And these are production oriented jobs - the work has to get done during a specific time. Union workers are used to that - every job has a deadline.
This installer had a perfect safety record - from driving trucks to installing cable to working with the public. And after 20 years on the job, the last thing he worried about was an injury. Plus, he was in great physical shape, cycling hundreds of miles on weekends every month.
Like most companies, Verizon uses tall, heavy ladders the workers take on and off the top of the truck. This worker had done that thousands of times, and needed the ladder to check a connection on the second floor of an apartment building. Making sure the ladder was set and secure, he climbed up to the second floor cable connection. On the way down, a rung gave way and the ladder collapsed and shot to the ground.
He didn't know it at the time but the sudden drop and fall tore both of his Achilles tendons. He just knew he was in pain and could barely walk. 12 hours later, after being diagnosed with bilateral Achilles tendon ruptures, he was in surgery.
I met him about 2 weeks later at his home in Prince George's County, while he was still in a wheelchair. He had a long road of rehab and treatment ahead of him, and concerns about his finances and future at work. Like we do for all clients, we took care of everything in the workers comp case so he could focus on his treatment - and it worked. It was a long, slow and painful rehab, but he was soon out of the wheelchair, in a boot, then getting physical therapy and home exercises until he could walk.
A little over a year later, he was able to reach his goal and return to Verizon (he was close to retirement and that was the best decision for him - we always support the best decision for our clients) and thankfully, his job had become less physically demanding.
Not only were we able to support him and make sure he received workers comp benefits the entire time he could not work, we got Verizon to agree to pay him a significant 6 figure amount for the permanent injuries to his legs and all of his future medical care.
The best part? He is back to serious cycling on the weekends.
For more on how we help people who are injured and their families, call us at (202) 393 - 3320.