John M. Popelka

Attorney Profile

Top Rated Workers' Compensation Attorney in Chicago, IL

Anesi, Ozmon, Rodin, Novak & Kohen, Ltd.
 | 161 North Clark Street, 21st Floor
Chicago, IL 60601
Phone: 872-225-3123
Selected to Super Lawyers: 2006, 2013 - 2018
Licensed Since: 1986
Practice Areas:
  • Workers' Compensation: Claimant
Attorney Profile

An accident that John M. Popelka suffered as a teenager working in a paper mill became the catalyst for a successful legal career in the workers' compensation field. Mr. Popelka was denied the benefits that he was due simply because he was not aware of his rights, and he is dedicated to preventing his clients from experiencing the same injustice. As a testament to the workers' compensation field, Mr. Popelka devotes his entire practice to this area. He knows the ins and outs of the system and fights diligently to protect his clients' rights and to get them the benefits that they deserve.

John M. Popelka was admitted to the Illinois bar in 1986 after graduating from John Marshall Law School. He is also licensed to practice law in Wisconsin and Iowa. Mr. Popelka joined Anesi, Ozmon, Rodin, Novak & Kohen, Ltd. in 1991 and has had a successful track record with the firm ever since. Throughout his career, he has achieved numerous successful results, including a $1.5 million settlement and other high-dollar jury verdicts and settlements. Some of the cases that he handles involve catastrophic injuries, permanent disabling injuries and worker deaths. Some of these injuries require home modification and lifetime medical care, but Mr. Popelka's representation has led to several of his clients receiving lifetime weekly payments to compensate them for their injuries.

Mr. Popelka has also undertaken appellate cases in which he has argued before the Illinois Appellate Court and the Illinois Supreme Court. He maintains his dedication to clients by maintaining memberships in several professional organizations, including the American Association of Justice, Illinois Trial Lawyers Association, The Chicago Bar Association and the Workers' Compensation Lawyers Association of Illinois.

 
Practice Areas
Lawyer Practice Area Pie Chart

Workers' Compensation (100%)

Selections

Selected to Super Lawyers for 7 yearsbottom-image

Super Lawyers: 2006, 2013 - 2018

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About John Popelka

Admitted: 1986, Illinois

Professional Webpage: http://anesilaw.com/attorneys/john-m-popelka/

Bar/Professional Activity:

  • Iowa, 1989
  • Wisconsin, 1989
  • Member, Workers' Compensation Lawyers Association of Illinois
  • Member, Workers' Compensation Section, Chicago Bar Association
  • Member, Workers' Compensation Section, Illinois Trial Lawyers Association
  • Member, Workers' Compensation Section, American Association of Justice

Verdicts and Settlements:

  • $300,000.00 settlement for union tuck pointer who suffered career ending injury, 2009
  • $425,000.00 settlement plus $485,000.00 Medicare Set-Aside Trust established for assistant project manager who developed reflex sympathetic dystrophy following a routine meniscal surgery to the knee, 2009
  • Awarded authorization to a roofer for shoulder surgery plus penalties and attorneys' fees by arbitrator where employer disputed fall caused injury to the shoulder because the treating physician failed to record the client's continued shoulder complaints in his medical records. Penalties and fees were awarded because the treater testified that his patient did make complaints that he failed to record in his notes, and the employer's expert witnesses failed to acknowledge that testimony when rendering opinions that the lack of complaints in the records meant the shoulder condition was not related to the accident, 2009
  • Reversed arbitration decision and secured authorization for paramedic/nurse to receive two step surgical procedure to his leg and foot, rather than one step procedure proposed by employer's physician, 2009
  • Awarded authorization to truck driver for continued medical care from treating physician, along with weekly benefits, where employer denied further treatment based on its physician's full duty release, and then subsequently terminated the driver for not showing up for work, 2009
  • Concrete construction foreman authorized by arbitrator to receive ongoing medical care for back and post traumatic depression, along with weekly benefits and $35,000.00 in penalties and attorneys' fees despite the fact that the foreman's treating physician released him to full duty work based on an invalid functional capacity evaluation. The employer's collusion in the invalid FCE, coupled with a repeat evaluation that was valid and found the foreman was unable to return to his former occupation resulted in the award of penalties and fees, 2009
  • Awarded authorization for brain surgery, lumbar surgery and over $175,000.00 worth of weekly benefits for Local 1 ironworker. Successfully proved that ironworkers pre-existing Chiari malformation of the brain stem was aggravated by the accident causing the condition to become symptomatic and require surgery, 2009
  • $190,000.00 settlement and $145,000.00 Medicare Set-Aside Trust Account for non-union printer who was unable to return to work after aggravating a pre-existing condition, 2009
  • $225,000.00 settlement for construction worker who underwent back surgery but returned to his regular work, 2009
  • $225,000.00 settlement plus $55,000.00 Medicare Set-Aside Trust Account for union carpenter unable to return to work after slipping on an unnatural accumulation of ice, 2009
  • $250,000.00 settlement for injured worker whose previous amputation stump was aggravated by his accident, 2009
  • $250,000.00 settlement for union boilermaker who sustained soft tissue injuries while twisting in a pipe, 2009
  • $250,000.00 settlement for apprentice carpenter who fell at the work site, 2009
  • $337,500.00 settlement for Local 1 ironworker who injured back and was unable to return to his trade, 2009
  • $335,000.00 settlement for a helicopter pilot who crashed into a lake after clipping an unmarked electrical power line, 2009
  • $377,000.00 settlement for Local 1 ironworker who tripped on the work site and underwent lumbar fusion surgery, 2009
  • Over $6 Million dollars in settlements, 2009
  • $155,561.53 award of benefits to City of Chicago employee for injury to knees, despite multiple prior surgeries to both knees, 2008
  • $116,865.06 award of wage differential benefits to floor nurse (R.N.) able to continue working as a pediatric nurse, but only on a part-time basis, 2008
  • $33,400.00 award of benefits to fundraiser whose neck was injured from cradling telephone on shoulder while talking with prospective donors, 2008
  • $70,776.00 award of permanent total disability benefits and entitlement to future back surgery to physical therapist injured lifting CPR dummy at work. The award was subsequently supplemented by an award of Social Security disability benefits, 2008
  • $225,000.00 settlement to concrete construction foreman who injured his shoulder and returned to work for his employer in a front office capacity, 2008
  • $750,000.00 settlement to close out medical rights left open in 2007 settlement for business executive injured as a result of a flu shot at work, 2008
  • $250,000.00 Settlement for Local 1 ironworker apprentice, who was retraining in a new career and found employment as a municipal building inspector, 2008
  • $190,000.00 settlement for non-union roofer who was unable to return to work at his former occupation, 2008
  • $191,000.00 settlement for Teamster truck driver injured while pulling a pallet jack out of his truck, 2008
  • $200,000.00 settlement for Local 1 ironworker who slipped and injured his back while climbing into the back of his truck, 2008
  • $240,000.00 settlement for Local 1 ironworker whose shoulder injury led to several surgeries, 2008
  • $237,224.00 settlement for Local 393 ironworker injured when a sheet of steel collapsed onto him, 2008
  • Award of permanent total disability benefits for Local 111 ironworker injured during bridge repair in Moline, Illinois, 2007
  • Award of permanent total disability benefits for forest preserve worker whose multiple injuries and surgeries have rendered him disabled, 2007
  • Award of permanent total disability benefits and lifetime medical benefits for foreman pipe fitter, 2007
  • $272,000 settlement for union electrician who suffered a career-ending injury, 2007
  • $220,000 settlement for career-ending injury to Local 1 ironworker, 2007
  • $225,000 settlement and agreement for lifetime medical care for a business executive who incurred reflex sympathetic dystrophy following an injection at work. The employer had paid close to a million dollars in weekly and medical benefits prior to the settlement, 2007
  • $90,000.00 award for interim benefits for secretary who underwent multiple shoulder surgeries, but whose benefits were denied and medical treatment refused for cervical condition which arose 7 years after the accident. The Commission adopted the injured workers' physician testimony that her cervical condition and surgery were related, and awarded benefits, 2006
  • Award on appeal in favor of forest preserve mounted police officer whose claim was denied by the arbitrator due to conflicting medical records and the testimony of a co-employee who testified against the officer, 2006
  • $173,000 settlement for a career-ending injury for a Local 111 ironworker, 2006
  • $208,000 settlement for a career-ending injury to a Local 1 ironworker, 2006
  • $235,000 settlement for a career-ending injury to a union carpenter, 2006
  • $250,000 settlement for a career-ending injury for a Local 1 ironworker, 2006
  • $266,000 settlement for a career-ending injury of a Local 63 apprentice ironworker, 2006
  • $275,000 settlement for career-ending injury of Local 1 ironworker, 2006
  • $250,000 settlement for Local 498 ironworker who suffered a career-ending injury, 2005
  • $300,000 settlement for injured warehouse worker whose injuries rendered him permanently and totally disabled, 2005
  • $115,000 award of interim benefits and authorization for surgery for a physical therapist who sustained three different injuries over the course of her employment with two different employers. The employers denied treatment and benefits, pointing the finger at each other, resulting in an award of back benefits, penalties and fees, and an order for authorization of future back surgery, 2004
  • $125,000 award for Local 597 pipe fitter foreman who suffered serious injuries resulting in permanent work restrictions. The employer accommodated the restrictions but failed to timely pay the award, which resulted in a further award of penalties and interest of $26,000 in 2006. The injured pipe fitter foreman then re-injured himself at work with the same employer, resulting in additional injuries that rendered him unable to work. In 2007, John obtained an award for permanent total disability benefits as well as lifetime medical care, 2004
  • $525,000 award and settlement for a Local 1 ironworker whose foreman (and uncle) testified against him claiming no notice of an injury was given. Through phone records and through the impeachment of the testimony of the company's Workers' Compensation administrator, John obtained an award in excess of $250,000.00, including $125,000.00 in penalties and fees. The claim then later settled for an additional $275,000.00, 2004
  • $340,000 settlement for a litigation associate of a major Chicago law firm who was injured when her car flipped on black ice returning from a business trip. Her injuries restricted the hours she was able to work to 40 per week, which John argued restricted her from partnership track, 2004
  • $130,000 award and settlement for a petite female police lieutenant who suffered injuries as a result of sharing the lieutenant's squad car with three male counterparts each of whom weighed over 250 lbs. As a result, the driver's seat was broken and stuck in a position halfway into the back seat which resulted in no back support and subsequent injury to the female lieutenant, 2003
  • $300,000 settlement for a career-ending injury to a Local 1 ironworker, 2003
  • $215,000 settlement for union electrician on a claim that State Farm denied based on the fact that the accident occurred early Monday morning. Despite having the owner of the business and a co-worker testify against the injured worker, John prevailed at trial and successfully settled the claim, 2003
  • $350,000 award of accrued benefits plus ongoing weekly benefits for life for a union carpenter who suffered a heart attack on the job. The claim was denied because it appeared that the carpenter's activities were not particularly strenuous or unusual. Through expert testimony, John convinced the Appellate Court to award benefits by distinguishing between the physical stress brought on from isometric activities such as trimming the side of a solid wood door vs. aerobic activities, upon which heart attack claims are normally based, 2003
  • Award of permanent total disability benefits for part-time secretary injured at work in 1994, who underwent multiple shoulder and cervical surgeries and subsequently developed RSD/CRPS. The case had previously been tried several years earlier when employer terminated benefits based on non-cooperation with vocational rehabilitation. Commission awarded benefits in that case also, finding that petitioner's ongoing medical condition made vocational rehabilitation premature, 2011
  • Award of permanent and total disability benefits for life to tool and die engineer who developed RSD in his right leg following a knee surgery in 1989. The claimant continued to work, but his case was kept open due to his significant monthly medical expenses for pain management. Both the employer and the worker's compensation insurance carrier went bankrupt over the course of the next 20 years. In 2007, the claimant suffered an unrelated car accident, which caused the RSD to spread from his right lower extremity to his left lower extremity, thereby rendering him totally disabled. The Commission ruled that but for the underlying condition, the RSD would not have spread to the other extremity, thereby rendering his total permanent disability compensable. The award included over $300,000.00 in back benefits and medical expenses
  • $50,000.00 settlement for airport electrician who injured his knee climbing into his truck to clear the runway for an approaching airplane at O'Hare. The settlement occurred following a successful trial awarding benefits, where the City of Chicago denied the injury arose out of his employment, 2010
  • $200,000 settlement for a non-union truck driver who suffered a career-ending injury, but who obtained alternative employment as a security consultant, 2005
  • Many of John's clients have third party claims in addition to their Workers' Compensation claims. In 2005, John had seven (7) Workers' Compensation settlements for $1.00 plus a waiver of the Workers' Compensation lien by the insurance carrier. These settlements were obtained in conjunction with over $6,000,000 in third party settlements, all but one for union ironworkers, 2005
  • $100,000.00 settlement for automobile mechanic who suffered a triceps rupture at work, 2010
  • $133,000.00 settlement for Village of Forest View firefighter injured while on duty, 2010
  • $175,000.00 settlement for car wash mechanic injured in a motor vehicle accident driving between worksites, 2010
  • $227,960.00 settlement for union steel worker who injured his shoulder and neck in a slip and fall on his work premises, 2010
  • Award of prospective medical care ordered the employer to pay for cervical surgery for a female driver who injured her neck while she was unhooking an air hose from a 20-foot container on a train. Employer disputed the neck and cervical condition was related based on a report from its neurosurgeon expert, 2010
  • Concrete construction foreman authorized by arbitrator to receive ongoing medical care for back and post traumatic depression, along with weekly benefits and $35,000.00 in penalties and attorneys' fees despite the fact that the foreman's treating physician released him to full duty work based on an invalid functional capacity evaluation. The employer's collusion in the invalid FCE, coupled with a repeat evaluation that was valid and found the foreman was unable to return to his former occupation resulted in the award of penalties and fees. The case eventually settled for an additional $212,500.00, 2010
  • Award of weekly and medical benefits to roofer who fell and fractured his wrist, and developed shoulder problems three months after the injury to a shoulder that had been previously been injured in another claim. The aggravation to the pre-existing condition in the shoulder was found compensable, 2010
  • $133,000.00 settlement for IT consultant injured while on assignment to Microsoft in Redmond, WA, 2011
  • $200,000.00 settlement for Local 1 ironworker, in conjunction with a $1,200,000.00 third party global settlement, following a successful arbitration awarding brain surgery, lumbar surgery and over $175,000.00 worth of weekly benefits for Local 1 ironworker. Successfully proved that ironworkers pre-existing Chiari malformation of the brain stem was aggravated by the accident causing the condition to become symptomatic and require surgery where ironworker was awarded medical expenses for a congenital brain stem condition (Chiari malformation) that was aggravated during the course of physical therapy, 2011
  • $285,000.00 settlement for hospital worker who injured knee and underwent multiple surgeries. Claimant was provided vocational rehabilitation assistance that found him suitable work in a new career, 2011
  • $300,000.00 settlement for union laborer working for a demolition company, who sustained crush injuries to his leg, 2011
  • $315,000.00 settlement for union boilermaker who injured his neck while working in the Quad Cities, but received his treatment in his home state of Arkansas, 2011
  • Award of benefits for tool rental department supervisor who slipped on oil and fell against the wall. Before retaining counsel, claimant attempted to return to light duty work, but resigned from his position due to pain. Award included subsequent payment of weekly benefits after his physician took him back off work and recommended further treatment, 2011
  • Award of benefits to radiology supervisor at Chicago hospital who injured low back after co-worker called in sick, causing her to lift several patients on her own. Award of weekly benefits included a period of time where employer alleged they could accommodate light duty restrictions but her treating physician recommended it was not safe for her to drive, 2011
  • Award of 50% loss of use of man as a whole plus lifetime medical benefits for forklift operator who injured shoulder at work, and continues working for employer while receiving ongoing pain management treatment, 2011
  • Award of benefits to Local 1 ironworker who sustained a laceration to her hand on razor wire, and developed impingement syndrome in her shoulder following a tetanus injection. The shoulder surgery was awarded and her employer, Cook County, accommodated her permanent restrictions with office work, based on her union wages, 2011
  • Award of benefits and medical expenses for Local 1 ironworker who injured knee at work, and subsequently aggravated both shoulders while using crutches to walk, resulting in the need for bilateral shoulder surgeries. Award included an order that vocational rehabilitation efforts by the employer were premature, due to the continuing medical condition of the bilateral shoulders. Award resulted in ironworker undergoing both bilateral shoulder surgeries and receiving follow-up treatment
  • $1,500,000.00 settlement for roofer who fell and sustained a closed head injury. He had previously opted out of coverage as an owner of the business the year prior to the injury. We prevailed on the theory that the insurance company's failure to obtain a new opt out signature in the second year in writing nullified the choice, thereby entitling our client to payment of weekly benefits and medical care under the Workers' Compensation Act.
  • Successfully argued the claim for wage differential payments based on union roofer's journeyman's pay scale vs. the apprentice pay rate even though the injured worker was an apprentice at the time he suffered the career-ending injury, based on the fact that he did complete the classes and testing required for journeyman status.
  • Prevailed against the Workers' Compensation insurance carrier which had denied the claim of a union painter injured when a scissors lift topped. Although, as owner of the painting firm, the injured party had opted out of Workers' Compensation insurance coverage, we proved that under the duties he was performing, he was acting as a covered employee, not as the owner who opted out.
  • $65,000 award. Expanded a $42,000 award including penalties and attorneys' fees to $65,000 in the Circuit Court of Cook County for a Local 1 ironworker after the insurance company unilaterally refused to pay the full $42,000 award it believed to be excessive, despite the fact it chose not to file an appeal. The Circuit Court was persuaded to apply the underpayment first to the penalty and attorneys' fee award and then impose additional penalties and fees on the remainder, thus avoiding the common law prohibition of penalties on penalties
  • $500,000 award and settlement for a Local 1 ironworker who suffered a second career-ending injury in the same occupation, which involved defending in the Appellate Court against an employer's appeal of the Workers' Compensation Commission's original decision in favor of our client.

Representative Clients:

  • Edward Gray Corp. v. Industrial Commission, 316 Ill. App. 3d 1217, Illinois Appellate Court, 2000
  • Jetson Midwest v. Industrial Commission, 290, Ill. App. 3d 314, Illinois Appellate Court, 1998

Educational Background:

  • John Marshall Law School, Chicago, Illinois, J.D., 1986
  • Marquette University , Milwaukee, Wisconsin, B.A. in Economics, Honors: Dean's List
Office Location for John M. Popelka

161 North Clark Street
21st Floor
Chicago, IL 60601

Phone: 872-225-3123

 

John M. Popelka:

Last Updated: 9/1/2017

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