Massachusetts Appellate Court Considers Whether Work-Related Neck Injury Claim is Barred by the Statute of Limitations

time limitThe workers’ compensation system has many different rules that govern how and when an injured employee must assert a claim for benefits. This includes a statute of limitations or a time limit on when a claim must be filed. If the injured worker fails to file the claim within the statute of limitations, he or she will be barred from receiving benefits and medical expenses compensation. The seasoned Boston work injury lawyers at the Law Office of Michael O. Smith have assisted countless Massachusetts residents with ensuring that they preserve their right to compensation.

In a recent decision, a Massachusetts Court of Appeal reviewed an injured worker’s challenge to a lower court’s decision to deny her claim for benefits based on the statute of limitations. The woman was employed as a nurse in 2007 when she experienced an injury to her neck. She sought treatment at the emergency room immediately following the injury. She continued to work but reported increased pain and discomfort in her neck. Her treating physicians prescribed a series of neck surgeries to address the condition. The woman did not file a claim for benefits but received a disability payment for the period of time that she was unable to work. She also testified that she did not inform her employer of her injury in 2007.

In 2009, the worker continued to seek treatment for her neck injury while returning to work. In 2012, she told her employer that she could not turn her neck following a work assignment that she characterized as heavy. She received treatment for the injury while being out of work for three months. She also received short-term disability benefits during this period.

In 2015, the woman filed her claim for benefits with the Massachusetts workers’ compensation system, stating her last day of work as the date that the injury occurred. In her claim, she stated that she suffered a cumulative injury resulting from many years of moving and lifting patients. The insurer for her employer denied the claim as not being filed within the statute of limitations. The woman fought the denial and a workers’ compensation judge eventually issued an order requiring the insurance company to pay benefits to the woman for her injury.

The insurer appealed but the appellate court concluded that the insurer could not dispute the lower court’s order on the basis of the statute of limitations because the insurer failed to raise this issue at the original hearing. According to Massachusetts law, a party must make an objection or raise a defense at the specific time that the objectionable conduct occurs or that the defense arises. If the party fails to make a timely objection or assertion of a defense, it is deemed waived.

Navigating the workers’ compensation system in Massachusetts can be incredibly overwhelming even if your injury is relatively minor or temporary. Our legal team has handled a wide variety of work injury cases and is well versed in the rules that apply to claiming benefits and compensation. We offer a free consultation to discuss your situation and to help you determine whether filing a claim is the right decision for you. Call us now at 617-263-0060 or contact us online.

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