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Home / Verdicts & Settlements / Worker paralyzed in tree-trimming fall earns $1.1M workers’ compensation settlement

Worker paralyzed in tree-trimming fall earns $1.1M workers’ compensation settlement

A Mexican landscaper who was paralyzed 14 years ago after falling from a ladder while trimming trees at a Ladue home settled a state workers’ compensation claim for more than $1.1 million.

Jose Angel Valdez Garcia, who was 36 at the time, had received an agricultural worker’s visa and been in the United States for just three weeks when the accident occurred in March 2005, said St. Louis plaintiff’s attorney Richard Hein.

Valdez Garcia was standing on a ladder between 10 feet and 15 feet high with a small chainsaw when a cut tree branch fell and hit the ladder, sending him to the ground. He landed on the left side of his head and neck, according to the Division of Workers’ Compensation claim.

The laborer was diagnosed with C-3 tetraplegia from the fall, with burst fractures at the C-3, T-11 and L-2 vertebrae, a fracture at T-10 and a right C5-6 facet fracture, Hein added.

The settlement, which was approved in June, consists of an immediate $500,000 payment plus $3,403 monthly for the next 15 years. That’s in addition to the $2.345 million in medical expenses already paid by Valdez Garcia’s employer, Valley Crest Companies of Bridgeton, and its insurer. An attorney for the company did not respond to a request for comment.

Valdez Garcia, who returned to his hometown of Montemorelos, Mexico, has received $200 per week in temporary disability payments since 2005, or a total of nearly $150.000.

“This was not a typical case, given the seriousness of the injury,” Hein said. “The parties spent quite some time negotiating the claim.”

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Breakdown: $500,000 immediate cash payment, plus $3,403 monthly for 15 years. Total value of $1,112,540

Venue: Missouri Division of Workers’ Compensation

Case Number/Date: 05-020520/June 5, 2019

Administrative Law Judge: Suzette Carlisle

Plaintiff’s Expert: Irmo Marini, McAllen, Texas (forensic rehabilitation, life-care planning)

Injuries alleged: head, brain, neck

Insurer: Insurance Company of the State of Pennsylvania

Caption: Jose Angel Valdez Garcia v. Valley Crest Companies

Plaintiff’s Attorney: Richard Hein, The Hein Law Firm,
St. Louis

Defendant’s Attorney: Jay Lory, Evans & Dixon, St. Louis