An Experienced Attorney
Justia Lawyer Rating for Michael O. Smith
MASSBAR ASSOCIATION
ASLA
ABA
10 Best
US Court of Appeals
Massachusetts Academy of Trial Attorneys
BBB
AVVO

There is no such thing as an easy work-related injury, but some accidents leave the worker suffering from a lifetime of pain and disability. If you were hurt on the job, our diligent Boston workers’ compensation staff can assist you with ensuring that you receive the fair outcome that you deserve. While you are coping with the pain and stress that the injury has caused, we will assert your rights to the fullest extent possible while ensuring that you receive compassionate and responsive legal counsel.

Workers’ compensation claims can become incredibly complicated as there are many procedural rules and processes that must be followed, as a recent appellate case highlights. The case involved a truck driver who reportedly suffered serious injuries to multiple parts of his body when he fell out of his truck. He filed a claim for workers’ compensation benefits, which he received. Eventually, the insurer filed a claim to modify or discontinue the weekly benefit payments. In support of its request, it offered a report from an independent medical examiner.

The judge ultimately concluded that the employee suffered a temporary total disability due to the accident and awarded the employee benefits. The judge relied on the report in reaching this decision. The insurer appealed, first alleging that the report was not a proper basis for awarding benefits. According to the insurer, the doctor relied on nothing more than a temporal proximity theory to conclude that the worker suffered an on-the-job injury. The appellate court concluded that there was enough additional evidence to show that the truck driver was experiencing serious injuries and symptoms as a result of the fall, including post-traumatic head injuries, post-concussion syndrome, and more.

Continue reading

As seasoned Boston work injury lawyers, workers often ask us what will happen in situations where their employer fails to maintain a workers’ compensation insurance. In many cases, these individuals work for someone in an informal arrangement, such as an in-home care provider who provides daily, around-the-clock assistance for a disabled or elderly individual. These agreements are usually quite vague and hard to understand, and even harder to interpret in a claim. Our experienced team of legal professionals is prepared to help you defend your right to workers’ compensation benefits and the assistance that you need to cope with your injuries.

Recently, the Massachusetts Court of Appeals heard a case in which a live-in care provider sought workers’ compensation benefits for injuries that she allegedly sustained while working in the home of an elderly woman and her daughter. The elderly woman offered the daughter room and board in exchange for providing a few hours of work to assist the elderly woman. The parties entered into a verbal agreement and did not write a formal agreement. The worker testified, however, that she would end up working 30-40 hours per week providing constant care to the elderly woman, including household maintenance, clerical duties, and physical assistance. The daughter did not live in the home. One day, the woman reportedly fell while walking down a staircase at the house and suffered an injury. She was unable to continue working and moved in with her cousin.

The worker brought the claim against the Workers’ Compensation Trust Fund (WCTF) because the daughter and the elderly woman did not have workers’ compensation insurance. The WCTF and the worker settled, but there were a number of issues that arose in the case, requiring the judge to join the daughter as the worker’s employer. A judge can do this in situations where the employer can provide clarification.

Continue reading

Most workers know that an on-the-job accident can lead to serious pain and suffering through physical injuries. What fewer workers understand, however, is that there are many situations where the worker will also suffer psychiatric injuries either as a result of the accident or because of the pain and trauma associated with his or her injuries. Our dedicated team of Boston work injury lawyers is prepared to help you ensure that you seek the maximum amount of compensation that you deserve, including benefits and medical expenses associated with a psychiatric injury.

A recent claim involved a worker who claimed psychiatric benefits stemming from an injury she received while working as a developmentally disabled assistant. The worker described the job as very demanding in terms of physical requirements. She sustained two separate injuries in 2011 that involved a fall while moving a patient. She reported injuries to her back, left knee, neck, and shoulder as a result. The next injury further injured her left knee. She reported to the emergency room and received treatment for each injury and eventually filed a claim for benefits.

The judge presiding over the claim determined that the worker had suffered such severe injuries that she was unable to lift anything or to stand for an extended period of time. The judge also concluded that the worker suffered from a low range of mobility as a result of the injuries. Next, the judge identified a psychiatric injury associated with the physical injuries. The worker reported suffering from serious depression and anxiety and had even been hospitalized due to suicidal thoughts. The worker was unable to accept the seriousness of her condition and the severe limitations that it placed on her once-active lifestyle. She no longer felt good about herself and suffered emotional distress as a result of no longer being able to work. She took great pride in her employment before the injury. As a result of her depression, she had difficulty focusing, which made it extremely hard for her to find another position.

Continue reading

When you suffer a devastating injury at work, it can make your daily life and personal responsibilities difficult to attend to. The workers’ compensation benefits system is designed to provide you with financial support during this situation, but the claims process can take a long time to complete. During that time, you may suffer another injury. It could be related to your existing work injury or it could be something new. Insurance companies may try to use this to their advantage by arguing that the new injury absolves them of liability for the first injury. Our dedicated team of work injury lawyers is prepared to help you fight for the compensation and outcome that you deserve.

The Massachusetts Court of Appeal recently decided a case involving a worker who suffered a rotator cuff tear while he was working as a crane operator. The insurance company for his employer accepted liability for the accident and the man underwent a series of medical treatments to address the left shoulder injury. The man was not able to return to his regular occupation involving manual labor, however, and was assigned to light duty and clerical work.

Two years later, the worker fell while he was exiting his company vehicle in his driveway at home. The fall resulted in an injury to his right shoulder. According to his testimony, the man tried to protect his injured left shoulder when he fell by rolling onto the other side. He reported to the emergency room to receive medical treatment. The next day, he returned to work.

Continue reading

When you are hurt on the job, it’s not always guaranteed that you will heal completely. In some cases, a worker faces a lifetime of pain and disability that prevents him or her from returning to the same job or engaging in the same hobbies. If you file a claim for workers’ compensation benefits, it is critical to ensure that you are given an award for any medical expenses that you incurred that were reasonable, necessary, and related to your work injury. Our team of diligent and experienced Boston workers’ compensation lawyers wants to help you fight for the outcome that you deserve.

A recent benefits claim highlights a situation involving a worker who suffered injuries as a delivery driver. She stepped out of her delivery truck and was allegedly injured when she stepped into a pothole on the ground below the door. The employer’s insurance carrier provided her with temporary incapacity benefits. She filed a claim for benefits, but the employer challenged the extent of her injuries and also contested her earning capacity.

An independent medical examiner submitted a report after examining the employee and the judge adopted the report’s findings. The report said that the worker was experiencing a number of injuries including complex regional pain syndrome. The doctor also concluded that the injuries were the direct cause of the work injury involving the pothole. The judge made note of the worker’s testimony at a hearing in which she said that she would wake up frequently at night due to the pain and that her medications including Tramadol and Valium did not alleviate her symptoms in a meaningful way.

Continue reading

When you suffer an on-the-job injury, you can file a claim for workers’ compensation benefits to provide you with income and reimbursement for your medical expenses. This can be a lengthy process, especially if your injury is complex or if it involves pre-existing medical conditions. There are many different steps that you must complete before you will receive a benefits award, including a determination of whether you have reached maximum medical improvement. If you do reach maximum medical improvement but you are unable to return to the same job duties and activities, then the analysis asks whether you are able to find meaningful work in the same field or another field for which you have experience and training. As dedicated Boston work injury lawyers, our seasoned team of legal professionals is standing by to help you protect your right to benefits.

A recent appeal involved an injured nurse and a determination of whether she could seek employment in a new field. The nurse was injured in 2016 when she felt immediate pain in her lower back while lifting a patient. Following the injury, she was not able to return to the same level of physical duties. Instead, she worked in a light duty clerical position with reduced hours for the same employer. Despite the reduced workload, she still reported experiencing pain requiring her to stay home from work.

The nurse filed a claim for workers’ compensation benefits and received a temporary award of $937.69 per week based on an average weekly wage calculation of $1,622.82 in addition to a second award that calculated a weekly wage based on the nurse’s actual weekly wages instead of an average. The insurance company for the employer appealed the award.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

Massachusetts requires drivers to carry personal injury protection (PIP) benefits to provide coverage in the event that the driver is involved in an accident. Understanding how these benefits play out in a claim and whether you are receiving the coverage that you deserve can be difficult to determine at times. Our diligent team of Boston car accident lawyers is ready to help you assert your rights following a car accident, which includes ensuring that insurance companies are playing by the rules.

In a recent case, the plaintiff was a medical services provider that filed a lawsuit to recover unpaid PIP benefits on behalf of a woman who was injured in a car accident and who obtained medical treatment from the plaintiff. The defendant asserted the affirmative defense of noncooperation in response to the complaint.

The matter proceeded to a trial and the jury returned a verdict in favor of the defendant. The plaintiff appealed on the basis that the judge committed a reversible error in denying its motion for a directed verdict. A motion for a directed verdict asks the court to conclude that no reasonable jury could reach a finding for the other party based on the evidence presented at trial. In evaluating this motion, the court must consider the facts in the light most favorable to the moving party.

Continue reading

The workers’ compensation process involves many steps and hurdles that a claimant must complete in order to receive benefit payments. At each of these steps, a judge will make a key determination in your case that may affect your right to receive benefits, the amount of benefits that you receive, and whether your medical expenses will be reimbursed. At the Law Office of Michael O. Smith, we have assisted numerous injured workers throughout Massachusetts with navigating the benefits system and ensuring that judges are making the correct decisions in their claims.

In a recent Massachusetts workers’ compensation court case, an injured worker alleged that an insurer did not provide reimbursement for medications that he was prescribed in relation to his work injury. The judge in the claim had issued an order requiring the insurer to provide reimbursement for these medications. The insurance company appealed this order and failed to make the full number of reimbursement payments.

Before the hearing on the insurer’s appeal of the order awarding the injured worker reimbursements for the prescriptions, the employee filed a motion seeking penalties against the insurance company for failing to provide the reimbursements pursuant to the order. When the employee filed the order, however, he failed to comply with some of the procedural rules governing motions seeking penalties. Specifically, the employee did not provide an affidavit listing the dates when the insurer was due to make payments and failed to make them. The affidavit must also include the amount of reimbursement that the employee is owed.

Ensuring that the judge presiding over your workers’ compensation claim resolves issues completely and correctly is a key step in obtaining the full amount of benefits that you deserve. There are countless rules that govern workers’ compensation proceedings and having a dedicated Boston work injury lawyer representing you throughout your claim can ensure that the rules are respected and that your rights are asserted. One of these rules indicates that an employee who chooses to retire voluntarily may not be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.

In a recent claim, an employee suffered three different injuries while working as a machinist across a 30-year period. The first accident happened in 2010 and involved slipping on a wet floor, resulting in a neck, back, and head injury. The man returned to work but with limitations on the tasks that he could perform. He also underwent physical therapy during this time.

In 2013, he was injured on the job again while tightening fixtures, resulting in an elbow, arm, and neck injury. He underwent treatment for this injury and did not take any time off from work. Again, he was assigned job-related restrictions. In 2014, the worker elected for a retirement buyout package. When his last day of work arrived, he reported severe back pain and went to a doctor’s office to be examined.

Continue reading