Mass. Appellate Court Upholds Award of Benefits and Surgical Expenses Reimbursement for Construction Worker who Suffered Multiple Injuries over a Decade

hard hat and gavelThe construction industry faces some of the highest rates of workers’ compensation claims, which is unsurprising considering how demanding and dangerous this work can be. As seasoned Massachusetts workers’ compensation lawyers, we have guided numerous industrial workers through the process and helped them maximize their recovery.

In a recent decision from a Massachusetts appellate court, a construction worker was employed by the city highway department as an operator of heavy equipment. He injured his back in 2008 while using a device known as a jumping jack compactor. One year after, he reported another injury when he drove over a pothole while operating a road paver. According to the man, the impact caused him to jump out of his seat. He requested workers’ compensation benefits and the judge ordered his employer’s insurance agent to provide total incapacity benefits.

Due to his injuries, the worker was prescribed a surgical lumbar fusion operation and the judge resultingly deemed the claim medically complex. while the insurer accepted responsibility for the first injury using the jumping jack compactor, it denied liability for the second accident affecting the worker’s lower back.

A hearing was held to determine whether the insurer should compensate the man for the second surgery. The employee testified regarding his job duties and the accidents, and evidence was offered to support his testimony. The judge concluded that based on the man’s testimony regarding his pain and limitations, restrictions, background, training, vocational experience, and age he was permanently and totally disabled. The judge included medical reports and testimony regarding the spinal fusion’s direct relation to the injury.

The insurer appealed on the basis that the judge did not appropriately consider all of the medical evidence that was provided. Reviewing the record and the exhibits listed with the judge’s findings, the appellate court rejected this argument and upheld the award of medical reimbursement and benefits. The judge noted that Massachusetts workers’ compensation law allows a presiding judge to adopt one medical expert’s opinion over another without providing an explanation in the written statement of decision. Because the judge listed all of the evidence as exhibits, the appellate court presumed that they were taken into consideration in reaching the final decision.

The appellate court also rejected the insurance company’s argument that the judge did not appropriately discuss whether the work injury was the direct cause of the man’s need for spinal surgery. The court pointed to information in the record indicating that the judge relied upon a medical opinion stating that the injury was the cause of the surgical recommendation. Although the insurer alleged that the expert had made mistakes regarding the timing of the man’s injuries, the appellate court found any discrepancies to be negligible.

We all work hard at our jobs and rely on the income we receive to support ourselves and to take care of our families. When a work-related injury sidelines you and forces you to deal with painful injuries and physical limitations, you deserve experienced and knowledgeable legal counsel to help you secure the benefit payments and medical expenses reimbursement that you deserve through Massachusetts’ workers’ compensation system. We provide a free and confidential consultation to help you learn about our legal team and how we can assist you in asserting your rights. Call us now at 617-263-0060 or contact us online to get started.

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