Hospital Employee Injured in Active Shooter Situation Struggles to Get Workers’ Compensation to Cover His Injuries
When Alfred Gaines was a much younger man, he served in the U.S. Marine Corps. In 2016, when he was in his early 60s, he got a job in the housekeeping department at the VA Medical Center in Riviera Beach. The greater part of his job duties included cleaning patients’ rooms, but one day in February 2019, Gaines happened to be present when a patient awaiting treatment in the emergency room, Larry Ray Bon, opened fire. As soon as he saw Bon draw his gun, Gaines lunged out of the way. A bullet grazed Gaines’ buttocks after ricocheting off a door knob. The gunshot wound was only a minor injury, but Gaines’ troubles related to the shooting incident were just beginning. His ordeal is just one example of how getting the compensation you deserve for work injuries is sometimes harder than it needs to be. A South Florida workers’ compensation lawyer can help you if you are involved in a dispute with your employer over an on-the-job injury.
Pre-Existing Conditions Strike Again
Medical debts keep financial stability out of reach of millions of Americans. Chances are, you know someone who has health insurance, but their insurance refused to pay for a treatment because it could be linked to a pre-existing condition. As underhanded as it may sound, workers’ compensation insurance companies sometimes try to play the pre-existing conditions card, too.
The worst injury Alfred Gaines suffered in the active shooter incident was not the bullet grazing his flesh; that healed quickly after a nurse practitioner treated it. The problem was the pain he suffered after diving onto the ground to get out of the line of fire. He had suffered intermittently for years from back pain because of spinal stenosis, an age-related condition in which the spinal canal narrows and increases the pressure on the nerves and spinal cord. After the shooting, his back pain got so bad that he could not work. The incident also aggravated Gaines’ pre-existing knee and shoulder injuries. He also suffered from PTSD as a result of the shooting incident.
In the weeks following the shooting, Gaines visited several physicians.
- William Molinari, an orthopedic surgeon, examined Gaines on March 7 and March 12. In his notes, he wrote that Gaines’ pain was so persistent that Gaines could not work eight-hour shifts.
- Inna Genel, Gaines’ primary care physician, examined him on March 26 and noted that he was suffering from PTSD and also that his back and hip pain were so severe that he had trouble walking.
- On March 26, Dr. Jesus Lizardi, an orthopedic surgeon noted that the shooting incident had exacerbated Gaines’ chronic neck pain.
Despite all this, the workers’ compensation insurance denied Gaines’ claim. The letter he received said that Dr. Molinari had cleared him to return to work on light duty. It went on to say that his pain must be the result of his pre-existing conditions, not the shooting. To add insult to injury, it referred to his gunshot flesh wound as “the alleged buttock wound” and said that it didn’t even count because a nurse practitioner, not a physician, had treated it. If Gaines has not yet filed a workers’ compensation lawsuit, perhaps he should.
Contact Us Today for Help
If workers’ compensation denies your claim on a technicality, you should consult a lawyer. Contact a Sunrise workers’ compensation lawyer at the Law Offices of David M. Benenfeld for a consultation.