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The Long Road to Justice
Heavy Machinery

In late April of 2014, a man was riding on a large construction vehicle on the farm owned by his employer.  He was working on a Saturday, which was not his normal workday. This weekend workday became an issue after he suffered a catastrophic accident, which left him a quadriplegic. Not only were the facts which led to the injury contested by the employer, the nature of the work the client was doing also became an issue.  If he was working for the employer when his injury occurred, then he would be covered by workers’ compensation insurance, but if he was working for his own benefit, then this would be a basis for denying benefits. If he was in fact working for their mutual benefit, then it would be a compensable accident. At the hearing level, the Deputy Commissioner found that he was working for his own benefit, and also that he failed to prove how his injury occurred, since his back was turned to the large boom that he claimed was lowered onto his head.

In addition to the assistance of an expert mechanical engineer at the evidentiary hearing, Mr. Powell successfully developed the facts at the hearing that showed that the client was moving his personal items so that his employer could sell the land on which a trailer he rented to the client was located.   The Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission reversed the Deputy Commissioner when it found that the circumstances were such that the client was working for the mutual benefit of himself and his employer.   The Court of Appeals of Virginia affirmed the Full Commission’s decision.  Further, the Commission and Court of Appeals found that the employer's testimony that the boom on the heavy construction machine did not lower therefore crushing the client’s neck, was not credible. The mechanical engineer who had testified on behalf of the client stated unequivocally that the accident had to have been caused by the boom being lowered on the client’s head as he was getting up to get off the machine. In this case, the retention of an expert engineer was crucial in finding the employer’s testimony not credible.

The client was awarded back compensation for the almost 4 years of his incapacity and medical benefits for life.  These benefits together have been estimated by experts to be valued between $8 million and $18 million dollars. After almost four years of litigation, the options at this point for an individual such as the client are the following: 

  1. To try to remain in the US in order to attempt to seek treatment by obtaining a hardship VISA.

  2. To remain where he was hospitalized or to be moved to long-term care, without the benefit of rehabilitation.

  3. To be rehabilitated, preferably in his home country, in a specialized hospital where he could receive the same level of care as he would receive in the US. Also, he would be in a location where he would have access to his family who could assist in his rehabilitation and repatriation.

Mr. Powell chose option three (3).  He had been serving as the client’s attorney, guardian and conservator for the client since shortly after he was retained, and felt this would be the best option and would enable the client to be able to improve his condition the most for his well-being.  Over the past 19 years, Mr. Powell and  Powell Law Group have handled several of these multifaceted cases involving foreign workers who have suffered catastrophic injuries while working in the United States. Regardless of immigration status, often it is wise to consider assisting these severely injured workers to return to their home countries to live out their days close to their families.

Fortunately, given the experience from past cases, Mr. Powell and his firm have developed relationships with a group of Life Care Planning experts, as well as governmental and medical contacts, particularly with foreign consuls and embassies, and healthcare providers in other countries, particularly from Mexico, Central and South America.

Once the client decided to return to his native country, the firm arranged for his transportation through these contacts with transportation companies, which provide door to door as well as air service, he will become one of a half dozen other clients who have benefitted from the expertise and contacts of Mr. Powell and Powell Law Group.   He is expected to be transported with his new electric wheelchair, to a special accredited rehabilitation hospital in Mexico in the coming weeks, where he will be treated by healthcare providers in Mexico. 

Further, as he has done in other cases previously, Mr. Powell will travel to Mexico to ensure that the client has been placed in a facility properly managed to fit his needs, as he will be cared for there for a period and will ultimately live in a specially designed house close to medical care to live the remainder of his life with access to his family.

The challenges of repatriation are significant and require specialized experience. Working together, Mr. Powell and the Powell Law Group workers’ compensation team accomplish what others might view as too challenging to undertake.  With the expertise described above at his fingertips, Mr. Powell has also succeeded in fashioning a unique full and final settlement in this case which should fulfill the client’s special needs for the rest of his life. The work on behalf of the client will not end when the settlement papers are signed, since there is continuing concern for hiring the appropriate caregivers in Mexico to provide continuing care for the remainder of his life.  This will again be set up with the assistance of Mr. Powell and his law firm and also with the help of retained experts in Mexico. Certainly, this is not an easy process to follow, however experience and success in doing this mean everything to a catastrophically injured worker and his family. 

General Negligence: Estate Administrator's Negligence Against A Widow
General Negligence | Insuarnce Money Mismanaged By Estate Administrator | Wayne Powell | Powell Law Group | Richmond VA.jpg

 

 In 2015, attorney Wayne Powell filed a lawsuit against the administrator of an estate who had been qualified to distribute the estate of her deceased brother-in-law. The brother-in-law had died as a commercial seaman and left only a surviving spouse as his beneficiary. The sister-in-law became the administrator of the estate, as the widow lived out of the U.S.  Pursuant to Virginia law, the spouse was the only person entitled to the proceeds of his estate, since he died without a will. 

After the accidental drowning, an insurance company issued a check for $300,000.00, which the administrator deposited into the estate account. The administrator failed to report the proceeds to the Commissioner of Accounts and never paid any of the proceeds to the widow.  When the widow learned about this, she consulted with Powell Law Group, and Mr. Powell was retained to represent her. 

Mr. Powell filed a lawsuit against the administrator for failing to disclose where and how the money had been spent. The court entered a summary judgment for $300,000.00 against the administrator for the entire amount of the insurance proceeds based on her failure to do what she should have done as administrator.  This is an example of a favorable result as the result of the administrator’s negligence committed against the widow.

If you or someone you know has been the victim of an unlawful estate or trust administration process, attorney Wayne Powell can help you get justice. Contact Powell Law Group today for a free consultation. 

Personal Injury Laws

Personal injury claims arise from the “common law.” The common law develops through history by traditions rather than legislation.

The basic doctrine is that individuals who live in a civilized society have a duty to act reasonably toward one another so as not to cause injury, whether physical or damage to property.

When there is a question about whether there has been a breach of the duty of one person (tort-feasor) to act reasonably to a victim (injured party) by act or omission, a jury (trier of fact) can be called to determine if there has been a violation and, if so, the jury will be instructed by the judge about how to determine liability, and the jury will determine resulting damages, if any. Sometimes the victim may want the judge to be the trier of fact.

We think that learning how state laws and national laws impact a case can help our clients understand the steps we at Powell Law Group take to make sure our clients get the best possible legal representation.  If you think you have a Personal Injury case, call us today for a FREE legal consultation.  (804) 794.4030

Auto Accidents | Truck Accidents | Premises Injuries | Product Liabilities

Personal Injury: $2,800,000

In 2015, attorney Wayne Powell was the trial lawyer for a tragic case where a tractor trailer collided with a private automobile resulted in the tragic death of a Virginia resident and large car pile up with multiple injuries. The accident occurred close to a construction area where the careless truck driver failed to apply brakes and yield to traffic that had the right of way.  Ultimately, the truck driver did not move over to another lane in sufficient time to avoid the collision with the client and other cars on an interstate highway.

 

Workers' Compensation: $854,000

In 2014 attorney Wayne Powell was able to resolve a claim regarding a client who fell three stories from a manufacturing machine at the factory where he worked, causing him permanent brain damage which required continuing care for him.

SIGNIFICANCE:  This is another case where Mr. Powell and the firm arranged for a lump sum and annuity payments for 20 years which included repatriation by the client to his home country and arrangements made by Mr. Powell  through the client’s embassy to receive adequate housing and continuing treatment upon repatriation.

Workers' Compensation: $940,000
Personal Injury | Fall from Roof

In 2013, attorney Wayne Powell resolved a workers' compensation claim in which the client fell two stories from a roof, suffering a serious brain and spinal injury, which caused hemiplegia. The settlement amount combined a lump sum payment and annuity payment to the client and his family, which would pay his cost for treatment and living expenses for 20 years.  

SIGNIFICANCE:  The calculation of the settlement was based on the cost of living in the client’s home country.  Resolution of this case is significant, since Mr. Powell arranged for the client to be able to return to his home country, through the client’s country’s embassy.  In addition, the Powell Law Group was able to assist in obtaining a suitable retrofit of his house in his home country before repatriation, and also resulted in the appointment of a guardian and conservator to assist in the client’s repatriation.

 

Personal Injury: $2,550,000
Personal Injury | Toxic Fumes

In 2012, attorney Wayne Powell successfully settled cases for several clients who were office workers exposed to the inhalation of toxic fumes which infiltrated below a roof replacement site above their offices.  The inhalation caused various degrees of brain damage in six employees of the business where the roof replacement was taking place.  

Personal Injury: $4,500,000
Personal Injury | Gang Attack

In 2009, attorney Wayne Powell successfully tried a negligence case in the Federal District Court for the District of Columbia in conjunction with attorney Patrick Regan.  They were successful in receiving a jury verdict in favor of the client, a patron of a Washington night club.  The plaintiff suffered brain damaged after he was assaulted by a criminal gang outside a club in Washington, DC while there was no security stationed outside to protect the patron as he was leaving.

Significance:  As in Virginia, Washington, DC, does not normally allow a cause of action against a premises owner for injury received by a patron outside of the premises.  In this case, the evidence showed that the club and premises owner normally had security stationed outside of the club since there was a high level of criminal activity outside of the club. The Court allowed evidence of this lack of security on the night of the attack in the context of criminal activity in the neighborhood of the club.   Prior to the assault on the client, there was routinely security offered by the club, both inside and outside the club, to prevent criminal activity from affecting the patrons.

Personal Injury: $1,000,000
Personal Injury | Brain Injury |

In 2006 attorney Wayne Powell successfully resolved a personal injury claim which had begun after a worker's compensation claim that arose from the plaintiff’s catastrophic brain injury which occurred at work. The case was rare in Virginia, since it arose as the result of an exploding multi-piece commercial wheel rim system designed and marketed by a major international manufacturer.   The client was changing the commercial tire when the three piece rim system exploded, causing serious brain damage,  removing part of his skull and brain, leaving him irreversibly brain damaged.  [NOTE:  The client, who was single, died before the settlement was distributed, so travel overseas was necessary to distribute the settlement funds to the client’s parents and siblings in accordance with Virginia law.]

SIGNIFICANCE:   This was one of the first cases in Virginia which resulted from the widespread manufacture of multi-piece wheel rim systems by several American and international manufacturers, which had previously resulted in successful multi-district litigation against the manufacturers.

Personal Injury Case: $200,000
Personal Injury | Murder

In 2004 attorney Wayne Powell successfully resolved a personal injury case in which our client was killed by a bounty hunter, contracted by a bonding company, which had hired him to retrieve a fugitive who had not returned to court when ordered.  The plaintiff’s decedent was falsely identified by the bounty hunter, who shot him in cold blood.  The case was brought against the bonding company for negligent hiring.  The murdered man left a widow and six children without a husband and father.

SIGNIFICANCE:  The case settled with the bonding insurer, but if it had been tried, this would have been  a case of first impression in which a bonding company might have been forced to pay a judgment to a family because of a criminal act of a third party actor.   [NOTE:  Shortly after the settlement, new statutory requirements of bounty hunter licensing in Virginia which had been enacted at about the time of the client’s husband’s death, became law.]  

Leah MuhlenfeldMurder Case