Articles Posted in Workers’ Compensation

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Massachusetts’ workers’ compensation system is meant to provide injured workers with benefits to replace the wages that they will miss while recovering from or dealing with a work-related injury. One of the core issues in the claim is the amount of benefits that the injured worker is entitled to receive. To that end, the parties can submit a variety of evidence and there are specific rules on the type of evidence that a judge must take into consideration or note in his or her decision. As seasoned Boston work injury lawyers, we are prepared to help you ensure that these rules are applied fairly in your claim.

The Massachusetts Court of Appeal issued an opinion recently in a case where the employer’s insurer filed a motion to discontinue or in the alternative to modify an injured worker’s benefit payments. The employee fell out of a large fuel truck that he was driving and suffered injuries to his elbow, shoulder, and head. The injuries prevented him from returning to work and he collected temporary total disability benefits. The insurer provided a medical report from an independent medical examiner in support of its motion to discontinue or modify the benefits.

Ultimately, the judge concluded that the employee remained totally and temporarily disabled and issued an order requiring the insurer to continue paying benefits. The insurer filed an appeal, arguing that the judge erred in relying on testimony from the independent medical examiner indicating that the employee’s post-concussion syndrome and other medical issues that he was experiencing were related to the fall from the truck. More specifically, the insurer asserted that the independent medical examiner cited nothing more than a temporal similarity between these injuries and the accident and did not sufficiently establish causation, rendering it a reversible error for the judge to rely on this opinion to require the insurer to continue paying benefits.

Mental health workers face some of the most serious work-related injuries, especially if they work with patients who have conditions that cause them to be violent or to act out. The stress of working in this type of environment or from being involved in a patient-related altercation can have serious consequences for the worker. And while people generally know that workers’ compensation provides benefits for physical injuries, fewer people know that it also provides benefits for mental health issues that stem from a work-related condition or accident. Our knowledgeable team of Boston workers’ compensation lawyers is standing by to help you understand whether your physical and/or psychiatric injury is compensable.

In a recent claim, a Massachusetts Court of Appeal addressed a situation where the injured employee was awarded partial incapacity benefits following an accident at work where a patient struck her on the face and head. In her claim, she also requested compensation for psychiatric injuries, which the lower judge initially denied on the basis that she did not provide enough supporting information.

The worker appealed the denial, arguing that she had forwarded a series of medical records to the judge within the allowed timeframe and that she used an encrypted transmission service to send the records electronically. She also provided a transmission confirmation from the company who sent the records showing that they had been received. In the documents supporting the judge’s decision denying the psychiatric benefits, however, the medical records were not listed as part of the evidence that was considered and lacked any indication regarding whether the judge reviewed the records.

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.