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Thumb Tied: Man Pressured to Return to Work After Being Hung By Thumbs

It was a pleasant day in Wichita. The sun was out. A cool breeze ambled from the north and Guy Lambertson was on the job. Guy was one of the best landscapers in town. People knew him. They respected him. Guy’s reputation for quality was surpassed only by his reputation for safety.

Which is why this story was so heartbreaking.

Landscapers use a pulley system to lower branches from trees. A rope is tied around the branch, fed through a pulley and the limb is lowered to the ground safely. Guy knew that. He’d used the system for years.

But this day something went wrong. Guy’s thumb got caught in the rope as it snapped upward, pulling him straight off the ground in a terrifying swoop. Guy hung by his thumb for a full ten minutes.

At the hospital, Guy’s surgeon lamented that he was lucky to save the thumb at all. The surrounding tissue was severed. His tendons and ligaments were shreds. And his bones had snapped like toothpicks. They put his thumb in a cast, but it had to be changed daily, and for Guy, the pain was unbearable. His doctor never hesitated to place him on a medical leave of absence. It was sound medical advice.

Then the company’s nurse case manager got involved.

We’re not sure what she said or what argument she used to convince the doctor to rescind his advice. But within minutes the decision had been reversed and Guy was cleared to return to work.

Broken thumb and all.

Now, I’ve practiced law a good many years. But Guy’s case is perhaps the most egregious violation of workers’ comp I’ve ever seen. And Guy didn’t think he had a legal case!

The good news is, Guy’s case resulted in a large settlement for him and his family. I’m also happy to report that he’s back doing what he does best…landscaping. But Guy’s experience holds a lesson for us all. If you’re hurt on the job, regardless of whether you think it’s a “big deal,” seek legal advice. And make sure your lawyer has the experience and understanding of the new workers’ comp laws.

If you’ve been hurt on the job or would like to learn more about your rights under the new state laws, call me today. Guy did. And according to him: “It was the best decision I ever made!”

Roger Riedmiller, “It’s my job to make sure you’re informed.”