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Articles Posted in Workers’ Compensation

There are a number of variables that a workers’ compensation judge must consider when determining if someone who was injured at work should receive benefits through the Massachusetts workers’ compensation system. One of these factors, and a frequently debated issue in workers’ compensation claims, is whether the injury that happened is related to the worker’s job duties. The average weekly wage that the injured employee earned is another example of an issue that comes up routinely. Regardless of the challenges in your claim for benefits, you deserve knowledgeable and attentive legal counsel.

A recent legal opinion discussed some of the common issues that come up in workers’ compensation claims regarding the cause of the injury and the weekly wage that was earned. The employee in the case suffered an injury while he was picking up different objects on the job. He reported feeling a sharp pain in his back. At a hearing involving his claim for worker’s compensation benefits, the man testified that he received many different forms of payment including cash, corporate checks, and personal checks. Based on this testimony and other evidence, the judge issued an order stating that the man’s average weekly wage totaled $800.00. The order also stated that the worker had received unemployment payments.

After the hearing, an independent medical examiner performed an examination to assess the man’s injuries. The doctor’s report stated that the man was able to work in a full-time position subject to a few limitations. The report also indicated that the man had a preexisting condition that was exacerbated by lifting objects at work and the injury to his back. According to the doctor’s assessments, the limitations would likely be unnecessary in the future.

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If you are hurt at work then you may experience a debilitating injury that impacts not only your ability to continue your job, but your future health over the rest of your lifetime. The workers’ compensation system is designed to provide injured workers with the financial support they may need to cope with missed wages and medical expenses, but obtaining benefits can take a long time and the system can be complicated. In some cases, a worker may experience a new injury while a claim involving a prior work injury is pending, creating issues about whether the new injury should be combined with the old injury. As dedicated Boston workers’ compensation lawyers, let Mass Injury Group help you ensure that you receive the outcome that you deserve.

Recently, the Massachusetts Court of Appeal considered a claim where a worker experienced a major injury: a torn rotator cuff. The man worked as a crane operator when the injury happened and had worked as an ironworker for the majority of his adult career. The insurance carrier for the employer accepted liability for the injury. The man then obtained medical treatment including surgery. He was eventually able to return to light duty work which largely involved clerical activities.

About two years on, the employee slipped when he was getting out of his vehicle while on his way home from the office. He experienced a right shoulder injury as a result. When the man testified about the accident, he stated that as he started to fall, he tucked his left shoulder inward to protect it from any further injury. This caused him to strike his right shoulder on the running board attached to the vehicle. The man was treated for this injury and was able to go back to work the next day. He underwent another surgery for his left shoulder after this. The man sought workers’ compensation benefits for the fall impacting his right shoulder.

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The Massachusetts workers’ compensation system is complex and features many different procedural steps, findings, and terms. If you were hurt at work, and you are either considering filing a claim for compensation or in the middle of a claim dispute, you likely have learned about this complexity firsthand. At Mass Injury Group, our Boston workers’ compensation attorneys proudly assist Massachusetts residents with navigating the workers’ compensation system and helping them pursue the maximum amount of benefits and medical expenses reimbursement that they need during this stressful and painful time. Contact us as soon as possible to start learning more about your right to recovery.

In a recent claim, the Massachusetts Court of Appeal was asked to consider whether a doctor’s finding that a worker reached maximum medical improvement should coincide with a termination of benefits. The worker was injured in his shoulder in 2013 and suffered a second injury involving his back the next year. His employer’s insurance company paid benefits for the injuries in both instances. During 2014, however, the insurer ceased paying benefits, stating that it was not responsible for the injuries and that the worker was suffering primarily from a pre-existing condition. Additional court proceedings were held, and the court made several findings, including a determination that the employee had reached a status known in the workers’ compensation system as maximum medical improvement for one of the injuries. The judge awarded benefits payments for the back injury but not the shoulder injury, based on this finding.

The worker filed an appeal and argued that just because he reached maximum medical improvement on his shoulder did not equate to a requirement that benefits payments be terminated. Maximum medical improvement situations often still require ongoing medical treatment. In the report in which the court had read that the shoulder injury reached maximum medical improvement, the reporting doctor also wrote that it would be reasonable for the worker to undergo surgery to his left shoulder. Based on this, the appellate court agreed that the lower court erred in concluding that the maximum medical improvement finding meant that no additional benefits or medical expenses reimbursement payments were necessary.

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If you were hurt at work, chances are you have several questions about where to start and how to secure the benefit payments that you are owed. Mass Injury Group has assisted with numerous Boston workers’ compensation claims, helping people navigate the complex workers’ compensation system and dealing with insurance companies. We understand how important this situation is to you, which is why we will work diligently to ensure that your claim is being handled properly and complying with important deadlines.

A Massachusetts appellate court issued an opinion recently involving a claim where the employee failed to provide timely notice of her on-the-job injury to her employer. In 2009, the worker reported experiencing pain in her upper extremities and back around 2009. She described the pain as being due to repetitive motions that she was required to perform at work. She eventually returned to work after being off work for a short period of time even though her medical doctor told her that she should not do so. A few years later, the woman quit her job as a result of the increasing pain she was experiencing. After she quit, she suffered an injury to her back during yard work at her residence. The woman applied for and received a number of benefits including short-term and long-term disability payments as well as social security benefits.

The woman filed a claim seeking workers’ compensation benefits in 2015 and listed a repetitive back injury as the basis of her claim. During the adjudication of her claim, one of the judges adopted the opinion of a medical examiner that her injury was due to degenerative disc disease and that it was causally related to her job duties. The doctor also determined that the woman was permanently and totally disabled as a result of the injury.

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If you were injured at work, the Massachusetts workers’ compensation system can provide you with benefit payments to replace your lost wages as well as reimbursements for any reasonable and necessary medical expenses that you suffered as a result. For employees who travel, there are many complex doctrines that govern when an employee’s injury will be considered coverable under the workers’ comp system. In many instances, an insurer will attempt to argue that the employee was engaged in personal travel and that the injury, therefore, did not happen as part of his or her employment. A Boston workers’ compensation lawyer can help an injured employee counter these arguments.

One of the doctrines that governs situations where it is unclear whether an employee was working at the time of an accident is the going and coming doctrine. In a recent case, the employee filed a claim while employed as a psychiatric nurse. Although she resided in Massachusetts, she traveled to Vermont to work at a treatment facility. She would stay at a hotel during the week and travel home on the weekends. As part of her employment, she was provided with expenses for lodging and meals. The worker was unclear on how the policy for travel reimbursement worked so she did not submit expenses for her mileage.

She was injured in a car accident while driving home after a five-day shift, resulting in severe injuries that required multiple surgeries and rehab. The accident was so severe that she had no memory of the collision. The insurer for her employer rejected her claim for workers’ compensation benefits on the basis that she was not working at the time of the crash and that she was a traveling employee.

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If you are hurt at work, the Massachusetts workers’ compensation system can provide you with compensation to cover your missed wages while you heal as well as payments for any medical expenses you incur as a result of your injuries. There are many work-related injuries that get better over time with rest and appropriate medical treatment. There are other unfortunate situations, however, where the injured worker will face a lifetime disability due to the accident at work.

A workers’ compensation claim can be a very long process with many steps. In the beginning, you will likely need to undergo medical exams to determine the status of your injury and when you may be able to return to work. An important determination that the court will examine is whether you’ve reached maximum medical improvement (MMI). This impacts your eligibility to continue receiving benefit and medical reimbursement payments. Some insurance providers will try to argue that you’ve reached MMI before you actually have so that they are no longer required to make payments. At the Law Office of Michael O. Smith, our lead attorney will help you ensure that you receive the fair treatment that you deserve.

The Massachusetts Court of Appeal issued an opinion recently in a case where the plaintiff appealed the lower court’s decision that he reached MMI. The man was hurt at work in 2013 and suffered a left shoulder injury. He had another work injury in 2014 involving his back. The man received workers’ compensation benefits for both of his injuries until 2014 when the insurance company stopped paying benefits. The insurer argued that the man had pre-existing conditions, meaning that his injuries were not substantially related to his occupation.

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If you are injured at work, you will probably have to take some time off to address your injuries, receive medical treatment, and heal. In some situations, your injuries may resolve over time. But in unfortunate situations involving severe work-related injuries, you may be left with a permanent disability. Some insurers will try to argue that you have only a temporary or partial disability so that they can avoid paying the amount of benefits that you deserve. Our lead attorney Michael O. Smith is prepared to help you ensure that your injury is classified correctly and that you are treated fairly throughout your Boston workers’ compensation claim process.

Recently, the Massachusetts Court of Appeal decided an appeal involving an employee who reportedly sustained a series of traumatic injuries while employed as an aid at a psychiatric hospital. The man was attacked by a patient resulting in devastating injuries including a fracture in his right leg, chronic pain, instability, and deep vein thrombosis. He sought benefits in a workers’ compensation claim, which he was initially awarded. The judge identified various pre-existing injuries in the order awarding benefits but concluded that the pre-existing conditions were not the primary cause of the injuries and pain that he was experiencing after the attack.

The injured employee pursued another claim for benefits sometime thereafter. The judge that heard this claim determined that the employee had become so severely injured that he was functionally unable to provide care for himself and to perform daily tasks easily. Based on this and a report from an independent medical examiner, the judge issued an order stating that the employee was permanently and totally disabled as a result of the attack.

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If you are awarded benefits in a Boston workers’ compensation case, the court will calculate your average weekly wage to determine the amount of benefits that you should receive. This figure can be calculated in a number of ways. When an employee has multiple forms of employment including seasonal employment, the calculation can become incredibly difficult and even confusing. Our lead attorney Michael O. Smith has substantial experience assisting individuals with ensuring that they receive the fair outcome that they deserve after a work accident.

Recently, an appellate court considered an appeal involving an employee who was reportedly injured while working as a seasonal employee for a painting company. The lower court awarded the employee $301.37 in weekly benefit payments based on an average weekly wage determination of $502.28. The employee also worked as a seasonal worker at a restaurant located in a hotel. He worked at the restaurant roughly 15 hours per week and earned $226.25 each week.

The only issue before the court on appeal was whether the lower court reached the appropriate conclusion regarding the average weekly wage. The parties had stipulated before the hearing on wages that the employee should be considered a concurrent employee for his work that he performed at the restaurant and as a painter. Based on the worker’s testimony that he worked seasonally as a painter and at the restaurant, the judge determined that the average weekly wage should be calculated by dividing his total earnings over the prior 52-week period in lieu of the actual number of hours that the employee worked.

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If you were hurt at work, you could be entitled to receive benefits and medical reimbursement payments for your injury until you return to good health. Sometimes, an insurer and an injured worker do not agree about when an employee who was hurt on the job is able to return to work and no longer requires medical treatment. If your right to benefits and payments is reversed, you may find yourself in a difficult financial position. The worker’s compensation system in Massachusetts is intended to support people who were hurt while working on behalf of their employer, not to leave them dealing with expensive medical bills and no income. Boston workers’ compensation lawyer Michael O. Smith provides diligent and responsive legal counsel for employees who are seeking benefits after suffering an injury on the job.

In a recent appellate opinion, the Massachusetts Court of Appeal assessed a claim involving a worker who reported experiencing a shoulder injury and a back injury while on the job. The worker was awarded benefits, but the insurance company for the employer eventually argued that there were issues of causation stemming from an alleged pre-existing injury that meant that the worker should no longer receive benefit payments. A hearing was held to determine whether the employee’s benefit payments should be terminated. The worker requested that he receive payment for the reasonable cost of the shoulder surgery that he was told he needed to fix his condition.

The court determined that the worker was at the point of maximum medical improvement for the shoulder injury, but that he still suffered a partial disability. The worker was awarded benefits for the back injury as well, concluding that it was sufficiently related to the worker’s employment. In the award, the judge also stated that the worker was seeking medical benefits in a general sense.

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It is common for some workers in certain types of work to experience more than one work-related injury during their careers. The workers’ compensation system in Massachusetts provides benefits and reimbursement for medical expenses associated with an on-the-job injury. According to these laws, the injured worker is entitled to benefits and medical payments for each injury that happens at work. In many cases, however, the employer will try to argue that the new injury is not compensable or that it happened as the result of a non-work-related incident or cause. Our seasoned team of Massachusetts work injury lawyers is standing by to assist you with ensuring that you are treated fairly during this process.

A recent case discussed a workers’ compensation claim involving a lineman who had been employed since 1996. The worker reportedly fell from a four-foot retaining wall during 2012 while he was at work. The injury required him to accept light-duty work, but he eventually was required to stop working as a result of his pain and injuries. He filed a claim for workers’ compensation benefits and sought reimbursement for payments he incurred for physical therapy. The worker argued that he suffered a second injury at the time that he permanently left work. The worker then underwent an independent medical examination to evaluate the nature and scope of his injury. In a workers’ compensation claim, the court will examine whether the injury is temporary or permanent and whether it is partial or total.

The judge denied the claim for physical therapy reimbursement, but awarded benefits regarding the original accident involving the collapsed retaining wall. As part of this finding, the judge also determined that the worker had enough training and skills to find a job in another industry that would not be physically demanding. A vocational expert performed this assessment, which involves evaluating the employee’s work history, education, experience, and other factors.

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