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Articles Posted in Workers’ Compensation

Although some working relationships are clear cut, there are instances where it is not clear whether someone is in a formal employee position. This comes up most frequently when someone begins providing in-home care for an ailing individual. Many of these employment positions can have very informal employment relationships. At Mass Injury Group, we proudly provide legal counsel to individuals who are dealing with workers’ compensation claims in Massachusetts.

Recently, the Massachusetts Court of Appeal issued an opinion in a case where an in-home care provider who claimed that she fell down a set of stairs on the backside of a house when she was providing in-home care for an elderly woman. The fall was so severe that she was unable to return to work and had to move-in with a relative, according to her claim. The woman began working as an in-home care provider when the elderly woman’s daughter asked her whether she would be interested in the job and explained what it would involve. The worker testified that the job required roughly 30 to 40 hours of care each week and taking care of daily maintenance tasks around the home.

The worker sought benefits from the Workers’ Compensation Trust Fund. According to her claim, her employer did not have workers’ compensation insurance when she was injured while working. The claimant and the WCTF reached a settlement agreement but her employer was not part of the agreement. This created many procedural issues with the case and the parties were confused as to how to resolve the dispute. A judge has the power under Massachusetts law to join an uninsured employer in a claim. The judge exercised that authority in this matter.

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Although many people have a job that requires them to report to the same store, office, or location every single day, some employees travel. This can involve traveling across state lines and over great distances. For workers’ compensation claims, this can create issues about which state has jurisdiction over the claim. If you submit a workers’ compensation claim and the receiving commission thinks it is filed in the wrong state it could create serious delays when it comes to receiving benefits and reimbursements for medical expenses. At Mass Injury Group, we proudly assist Massachusetts workers with ensuring that they receive the fair outcome they deserve in a workers’ compensation claim.

A Court of Appeal in Massachusetts recently considered a case that involved a dispute about an employee who drove throughout several states as part of his job as a tractor-trailer driver. He entered into a contract with a Pennsylvania-based employer that involved a complicated hiring process. The worker was required to complete a training process that involved traveling to Roaring Springs, Pennsylvania. He was offered a job working in Pennsylvania at the end of his training and he accepted this offer.

In the year that followed, he drove the same truck to perform deliveries and work duties, most of which happened in Massachusetts. He was working for his employer in Maine making a delivery when he injured his back in October 2012. He filed a claim for workers’ compensation benefits, which the presiding judge dismissed on the basis that the court in Massachusetts did not have jurisdiction over the claim. According to the judge, the injury occurred in Maine and the corresponding claim needed to be filed in Maine.

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Construction workers have an incredibly physical job, so it is no surprise that they experience job-related injuries on a regular basis. It is also not surprising for a construction worker to suffer numerous injuries on the job during the course of his or her career. Although each injury is eligible for workers’ compensation benefits, repeated injuries to the same area of the body can create issues when it comes to proving causation in future claims. Under the Massachusetts workers’ compensation system, a work-related injury involving a pre-existing injury requires a showing that the new injury is the substantial cause of the worker’s need for benefits. At Mass Injury Group, our experienced team of Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorneys is prepared to help you ensure that you receive the fair treatment and outcome that you deserve after suffering a work-related accident.

A recent workers’ compensation claim dispute in Massachusetts highlights this issue. The construction worker in the claim suffered several injuries during his long career including a back injury that forced him to be out of work for a year. Some years later, he was moving 50-pound sandbags when he experienced an injury to his back. He also experienced right shoulder pain and was not able to go to work after the injury happened. He sought workers’ compensation benefits for the injury in 2014 as well as reimbursements for related medical expenses. The insurance company for his employer challenged the award of benefits.

The man underwent an examination with an independent medical examiner and the parties resolved the dispute about whether he was entitled to benefits. He received several medical treatments to try to resolve his pain, but they did not work. He filed another claim for benefits to address the long-term pain that he was experiencing. After another examination with an independent medical examiner and a hearing, the judge concluded that the primary cause of his pain and other symptoms was the second lower-back injury and not his original back injury. The insurer appealed again, and the reviewing court concluded that the lower court did not use the right standard to determine whether the new injury or the pre-existing injury was the major cause of the request for benefits.

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An injury at work can leave the victim in a seriously painful situation. This doesn’t just include the physical aspects of the injury but the inconvenience and uncertainty that he or she now faces in his or her life. From being unable to earn your regular wage to being unable to enjoy the same activities that you did before, work injuries are a major event for most victims. What some people don’t realize about the Massachusetts workers’ compensation system is that it offers benefits for individuals who suffer psychiatric injuries as well as physical injuries, too. At Mass Injury Group, our experienced team of Boston workers’ compensation lawyers is prepared to help you determine whether you are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits for the injuries that you sustained regardless of whether they are physical or psychological.

A recent case from the Massachusetts Court of Appeals involved a worker who served as a developmental aid. This included working with clients who suffered from developmental disabilities and helping them with using the restroom, which was physically demanding. During 2011, the worker experienced two injuries on the job beginning with a fall that she suffered while helping a patient. This injury resulted in a back, left knee, shoulder, and neck injury. Her next accident affected her left knee. She filed a claim for benefits, which the employer accepted and filed another claim seeking benefits for her injuries including a claimed psychiatric injury.

An initial hearing was held, and the presiding administrative law judge determined that she was not able to lift anything or to stand for an extended period of time due to her injuries. The judge also concluded that her injuries left her with limited mobility. Regarding her psychiatric injury, the judge determined that because of her extremely low mobility, the pain she experienced, and the total overall impact that her injuries had on her personal life, she was experiencing mental distress. The record showed that at one point the woman was placed in a hospital for five days because she reported having suicidal thoughts. A doctor stated in one of the reports admitted into evidence that she was totally disabled but that through psychotherapy and pain management she may be able to overcome some of her limitations.

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If you are hurt at work, one of the first things you should do is file a workers’ compensation claim to receive reimbursements for your medical expenses and missed wages associated with the injury. Massachusetts maintains a workers’ compensation system that provides these benefits, but the system can be difficult to navigate and understand especially if this is your first time filing a claim. The dedicated lawyers at Mass Injury Group have substantial experience handling Boston workers’ compensation claims and are prepared to stand by your side during this challenging time.

Recently, the Massachusetts Court of Appeal considered a claim where the employee suffered an injury involving his left shoulder. The insurance carrier for the employer provided benefits to the employee to cover his missed wages. A few months later, the insurance company stopped paying benefits and said that the worker suffered a preexisting injury that was primarily to blame for his pain and injury, not the work-related conditions.

In response, the employee sought the maximum amount of benefits available for the injuries that he experienced at work. The judge presiding over the claim determined that the employee was entitled to benefit payments for the injury affecting his shoulder. The parties both appealed this decision, which means they challenged this outcome as involving some type of reversible error. The worker then requested compensation for a shoulder surgery. The judge, however, reviewed medical opinions and determined that the worker had reached a status called maximum medical improvement regarding his shoulder injury and that the surgery was therefore unnecessary. The parties filed another appeal.

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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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