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 insurance company appealed arguing that the employee should not have been awarded benefits for her mental illness because she did not include any claim for psychiatric disability benefits earlier in the proceedings. Also, the insurer noted that the record lacked medical records showing that she was suffering from a psychiatric condition. Based on this, the insurer claimed that the judge improperly expanded the scope of the medical issues at the hearing beyond what the employee listed in her claim.
The appellate court rejected this challenge finding multiple pieces of evidence in the record to show that the issue of whether the worker suffered a psychiatric injury was present from the outset of the claim proceedings. The worker had submitted psychiatric records from an examination with an independent medical examiner which concluded that the woman would receive a benefit from undergoing treatment for her mental health issues, such as therapy sessions and depression medications. After rejecting the insurance company’s other bases for appeal, the appellate court upheld the award of benefits.
If you were harmed on the job, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. Understanding the claims process and whether you can show that your injury was the direct outcome of your job duties can be difficult. Our seasoned team of Boston work injury lawyers will investigate your claim, work with insurance companies, and ensure that you obtain the outcome that you deserve. To schedule a free and confidential consultation with our legal team call us at 617-263-0060 or contact us online to get started.