Articles Posted in Workers’ Compensation

There are many different phases to the workers’ compensation claim process, from filing your claim to receiving reimbursement for your necessary medical treatments. After you have been awarded benefits, your employer and/or its insurance company may seek a modification of those benefits or outright discontinuation. Seeking counsel from a dedicated Boston workers’ compensation lawyer at the outset of your claim can help you ensure that you are in the best legal position possible to receive the maximum amount of recovery that you deserve, and to protect your right to benefits down the road.

In a recently decided opinion, the Massachusetts Court of Appeal considered an employer’s request to discontinue an injured worker’s permanent and total incapacity benefit payments. In 1998, the worker was awarded benefits as the result of a health condition that she sustained while working at a school that was undergoing renovations. Her classroom was closed to the construction, which she reported as causing noxious fumes, heavy exhaust, paint, thick smoke, and other chemical-related smells.

The woman filed a claim for benefits and the judge in her claim determined that her symptoms of nausea, pain in her extremities, dizziness, asthma, and cough were causally connected to her employment at the school and awarded her benefits, which she received from 1998 to 2017. At this time, the employer filed a complaint to discontinue the benefit payments. In response, the woman offered medical expert testimony and reports stating that she still suffered from a disability related to the school construction. The judge adopted the opinions in the evidence and denied the employer’s request for discontinuation.

Workers’ compensation claims have many different phases and components that must be addressed before an award of benefits or medical expenses reimbursements can be made. During this process, the parties are allowed to offer different kinds of evidence to shed light on the nature and scope of the worker’s alleged injuries. There are specific rules regarding the type of evidence that the judge is allowed to consider. As competent Massachusetts work injury lawyers, we are well-versed in these rules and can ensure that your claim is handled fairly at all phases of the process.

The Massachusetts Court of Appeal published an opinion involving this issue. The worker was employed as a technician and facility manager. he moved to another company to perform similar job duties and filed a claim for aggravation of an existing back injury that he suffered while working for the new employer. As part of the claim process, the worker testified regarding the nature and extent of the injury and his medical history. The judge presiding over the claim denied his claim on the grounds that the worker was not a credible person and that he did not have an accurate grasp of the events surrounding his job history and injuries. The judge’s opinion stated that the hearing lacked any convincing evidence that the worker experienced an industrial accident, or that the worker’s medical history supported an injury.

The employee filed an appeal on the basis that the judge made an alleged error regarding rejecting the employee’s credibility. More specifically, the employee alleged that the judge impermissibly expanded the scope of the dispute by concluding that the worker did not incur an injury while working with either the first or second employer. In reviewing this allegation, the appellate court first recited the basic premise that an appellate court can only overturn a finding of a witness’ credibility if it was made in an arbitrary and capricious manner and not based on the evidence presented in the matter.

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Workers’ compensation accidents take many different shapes and forms. Some of the most obvious injuries are sudden and traumatic like a broken leg and strained muscles. Other injuries result from wear and tear over a long period of time. One of the most common issues in any workers’ compensation claim is linking your injury to your job duties, and insurance companies often attempt to argue that your injury stemmed from something else and that they are therefore not liable. Our seasoned team of Boston workers’ compensation lawyers is standing by to assist you with ensuring that you receive the outcome that you deserve.

Recently, the Massachusetts Court of Appeal considered a claim where the insurer challenged a benefits award and medical expenses reimbursement for an employee that was in charge of operating two large machines that attached labels to bottles. The daily course of the employee’s job was extremely fast-paced and she was required to attend to several aspects of the machine to ensure that it ran smoothly and efficiently for 10-12 hour shifts at a time. A large part of her responsibilities involved climbing in and out of the machine and to be on her feet monitoring the machine.

She was injured one day during her shift when she slipped off of a bar that she was standing on to swap out parts in the machine. She received immediate medical care and attempted to go back to work but she reported ongoing pain that caused her to be too slow on the job. She occasionally took days off due to the pain.

Work injuries take many shapes and forms, from relatively minor conditions that heal over time to life-altering conditions that leave the victim with permanent disabilities and physical pain. In a workers’ compensation claim, part of the determination regarding the amount of benefits you are entitled to receive involves assessing your ability to work and determining whether there are any types of work that are suitable for you in light of your new conditions. As experienced Boston work injury lawyers, we have assisted countless workers with ensuring that they receive the outcome that they deserve in a workers’ compensation claim.

Recently, the Massachusetts Court of Appeals considered a claim where the insurer appealed an order awarding an injured worker benefits. The woman suffered injuries when she was attacked by a patient while working at a mental healthcare facility. The reviewing judge concluded that the attack resulted in a total and permanent disability for the woman and that she was not able to perform sedentary work of any kind. The insurer appealed this conclusion on the basis that the judge had a personal bias against a certain field of work that the insurer suggested the injured woman might be able to perform: telemarketing.

The appellate court reviewed the trial record to identify the allegedly biased statements that the judge made. Based on its review, the judge stated that telemarketing jobs were not a type of sedentary work that he traditionally considered when making a determination regarding an award of benefits because telemarketers were required to act in an obnoxious way at times. The only instance in which the judge indicated that he would consider a telemarketer job when determining an injured worker’s work capacity was if the injured worker had already performed work as a telemarketer.

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The workers’ compensation process is often a new and unfamiliar experience for most injured workers. Most people hope that they don’t need to obtain benefits and that they will spend the majority of their careers injury-free. When you do suffer injuries on the job, however, it is critical to understand how the process works so that you can maximize the amount of benefits and compensation that you receive. At the Law Offices of Michael O. Smith, our dedicated team of Boston workers’ compensation lawyers is ready to assist you.

Recently, a Massachusetts appellate court considered whether a judge properly relied on an independent medical examiner’s report in reaching a conclusion about an injured workers’ claim for benefits. The injured employee had been working for five years when he experienced an injury that impacted his right shoulder and thumb. He eventually returned to light duty work but eventually reported sharp pain in his shoulder that required medical treatment. He was unable to return to work and physical therapy did not provide any relief for his symptoms. He underwent a fusion surgery but continued to report lack of motion in his arm and hand, the inability to pick things up, and ongoing pain. The man indicated that he was unable to care for his minor children as a result of his injuries and that household chores were difficult. He did state, however, that he could likely perform light duty work on a full-time basis.

One of the most integral parts of the claims process is the independent medical examination where a neutral physician performs an exam and issues a report regarding the nature and extent of the work-related injuries and any pre-existing injuries. An independent medical examiner performed an evaluation of the injured man and concluded that the worker was reporting a higher level of pain than what a person experiencing his same injuries would likely report. The judge adopted the findings of the independent medical examination and denied the man’s claim for benefits finding that his shoulder injury was not a work-related injury. The judge also adopted the finding concluding that the man was exaggerating his level of pain and lack of mobility.

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If you are injured on the job, it can be difficult to know when you will be fully healed or whether you will ever return to the same physical condition as before the accident. In the Massachusetts workers’ compensation system, injured employees are entitled to compensation for their medical expenses associated with the work injury. Many insurers attempt to reject certain medical expenses as unreasonable or unnecessary in an attempt to save costs. As seasoned Boston work injury lawyers, we will fight diligently to ensure that you receive the compensation that you need and deserve for your injuries.

Recently, a Massachusetts appellate court considered whether an injured worker was entitled to ongoing compensation for medical treatments associated with a left shoulder injury and a back injury that he sustained on the job. The man injured his left shoulder first and his employer’s insurance company provided benefits for this incident. Sometime thereafter, the man suffered an injury to his lower back for which he sought a new set of benefits. The employer approved this claim but eventually terminated the second set of benefits, alleging that the back injury was not the result of his occupational duties and that it involved a pre-existing injury.

The injured man sought benefits for his shoulder and back injury and the presiding judge issued an order awarding benefits only for the shoulder injury. The man underwent an independent medical examination for his shoulder injury and the conducting physician issued a report. A second independent medical examination was held to examine the man’s back injury.

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Many individuals have faced health conditions or physical injuries throughout their lifetimes. This can create complex isseus when it comes to receiving benefits in a workers’ compensation claim. These laws are designed to provide injured workers with benefits and reimbursement for medical expenses incurred as the result of an on-the-job injury, but not necessarily for pre-existing injuries or conditions. Ensuring that the insurance company and administrative professionals treat your pre-existing injury appropriately is a critical aspect of any workers’ compensation claim. Our dedicated team of Massachusetts work injury lawyers are prepared to help you fight for the just outcome that you deserve.

In a recent case, an appellate court in Massachusetts was asked to review an award of benefits to an injured worker who had a history of back injuries and pain. The insurer sought a termination of the benefit payments to the worker on the grounds that doctors determined that the worker had reached maximum medical improvement. The employee was injured in a car crash when he was working as a glass installer in August 2015. The insurance company provided him with temporary total incapacity benefits. It sought to terminate these benefits in November 2016 and provided a report from an independent medical examiner in support of its request.

The reviewing judge ordered a modification of the worker’s benefits from total incapacity benefits to partial incapacity benefits. He also concluded that the man’s earning capacity was $250 per week. The insurance company and the worker filed an appeal.

Next, the worker underwent an additional independent medical examination. A hearing was conducted regarding both appeals and the judge concluded that the matter had become medically complex. This allowed each party to provide additional medical evidence. After reviewing the documentation, the judge determined that the worker suffered from a history of pain in his lower back that was not a result of his occupational duties. He underwent a spinal fusion when he was eight years old, for example.

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There are many phases of a workers’ compensation claim, and the outcome or decision made at each phase can have a substantial impact on your ability to recover benefits. Perhaps one of the most essential steps is determining the date on which the injury took place or accrued and the extent of the injury. The Massachusetts workers’ compensation legal professionals at the Law Office of Michael O. Smith proudly provide workers with the responsive and dedicated legal counsel they need to ensure that they receive the maximum amount of compensation that they need and deserve.

The Massachusetts Court of Appeal recently considered whether a lower court properly determined an injured plumber’s work capacity following an on-the-job injury. In 2004, the worker suffered a neck injury while sleeping resulting in surgery. Roughly four or five years later, the worker began working for a plumbing company. He reported discomfort and tightness in his neck after operating a hammer drill in 2013. The man received medical treatment for this injury and the employer paid temporary total incapacity benefits until April 2014.

The judge assigned to the claim ordered the employer to resume paying benefits on a continuous basis. Both parties appealed and the employee modified his claim for benefits to seek a different category of payments. As part of the appeal, the worker was required to undergo a medical examination with an independent medical examiner. The employer provided additional medical documentation following its conclusion that the orthopedic surgeon who treated the worker did not explain the connection between the man’s 2004 neck injury and the hammer drill injury. After reviewing all evidence, the court concluded that the worker sustained a work-related injury and that it was the major but not necessarily the primary cause of his need for medical assistance. He awarded benefits to the employee and the employer appealed.

Some work injuries result in devastating and painful physical injuries. In other situations, the victim may suffer psychiatric or mental harm either separately or in addition to a physical injury. Because the signs and symptoms associated with psychiatric injuries can be more difficult to establish and identify, it is critical to retain a knowledgeable Boston workers’ compensation lawyer to help you ensure that you are treated fairly during the claims process and to help you secure the benefits and reimbursement that you deserve.

A Massachusetts appellate court recently reviewed an insurance company’s challenge to an order awarding an injured worker benefits for an injury that she suffered to her foot. The woman reported falling down a flight of stairs at work. She required several surgeries to address the injury, but it did not resolve and she reported continued pain and discomfort. The woman filed a claim for workers’ compensation benefits and the insurer accepted liability. In her claim, the woman listed a number of physical limitations that severely limited her day-to-day activities, such as experiencing severe pain during cold weather. She testified at a hearing about her claim that she felt depression, hopelessness, and anger as a result of the injury and the resulting limitations on her life.

The judge concluded that the woman was permanently and totally disabled as a result of the injury. The judge also concluded that the woman was suffering from depression associated with the injury and included this in awarding the woman the full amount of benefits possible.

The workers’ compensation system has many different rules that govern how and when an injured employee must assert a claim for benefits. This includes a statute of limitations or a time limit on when a claim must be filed. If the injured worker fails to file the claim within the statute of limitations, he or she will be barred from receiving benefits and medical expenses compensation. The seasoned Boston work injury lawyers at the Law Office of Michael O. Smith have assisted countless Massachusetts residents with ensuring that they preserve their right to compensation.

In a recent decision, a Massachusetts Court of Appeal reviewed an injured worker’s challenge to a lower court’s decision to deny her claim for benefits based on the statute of limitations. The woman was employed as a nurse in 2007 when she experienced an injury to her neck. She sought treatment at the emergency room immediately following the injury. She continued to work but reported increased pain and discomfort in her neck. Her treating physicians prescribed a series of neck surgeries to address the condition. The woman did not file a claim for benefits but received a disability payment for the period of time that she was unable to work. She also testified that she did not inform her employer of her injury in 2007.

In 2009, the worker continued to seek treatment for her neck injury while returning to work. In 2012, she told her employer that she could not turn her neck following a work assignment that she characterized as heavy. She received treatment for the injury while being out of work for three months. She also received short-term disability benefits during this period.

In 2015, the woman filed her claim for benefits with the Massachusetts workers’ compensation system, stating her last day of work as the date that the injury occurred. In her claim, she stated that she suffered a cumulative injury resulting from many years of moving and lifting patients. The insurer for her employer denied the claim as not being filed within the statute of limitations. The woman fought the denial and a workers’ compensation judge eventually issued an order requiring the insurance company to pay benefits to the woman for her injury.

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