Although the Massachusetts workers’ compensation system allows injured workers to receive benefit payments, a worker who suffers a temporary or partial disability may be asked to perform light duty work by the employer until he or she is cleared to return to the same capacity as before the injury. Determining whether the employee is capable of performing light duty work requires medical examinations and other findings. In some cases, an employee is capable of still performing some sedentary tasks, but in other cases, even light duty work is out of the question. As knowledgeable work injury lawyers, the legal professionals at the Law Office of Michael O. Smith have handled numerous work injury claims and are ready to assist you.
A recent case highlights issues that can arise with light duty work. The man suffered a slip and fall injury while working as a patrolman and spent the next several years receiving various medical treatments and diagnoses for his injuries. When he fell, he used his right arm to brace the impact and had sustained serious injuries to his right arm. The worker tried on several occasions to return to his regular job and worked in a light duty capacity in some instances. Even in a light duty capacity, the worker reported experiencing continued pain.
The worker eventually applied for workers’ compensation benefits. The court awarded benefits on the basis that the worker tried to engage in meaningful work, his need for surgery and continued pain, and the fact that he was totally disabled as a result of the injury. The insurer appealed the award of benefits on the basis that the court did not give it a fair opportunity to provide medical evidence and that one of the reports from an independent medical examiner was incomplete.