Massachusetts Appellate Court Denies Injured Lineman’s Second Claim for Workers’ Compensation Benefits

It is common for some workers in certain types of work to experience more than one work-related injury during their careers. The workers’ compensation system in Massachusetts provides benefits and reimbursement for medical expenses associated with an on-the-job injury. According to these laws, the injured worker is entitled to benefits and medical payments for each injury that happens at work. In many cases, however, the employer will try to argue that the new injury is not compensable or that it happened as the result of a non-work-related incident or cause. Our seasoned team of Massachusetts work injury lawyers is standing by to assist you with ensuring that you are treated fairly during this process.

A recent case discussed a workers’ compensation claim involving a lineman who had been employed since 1996. The worker reportedly fell from a four-foot retaining wall during 2012 while he was at work. The injury required him to accept light-duty work, but he eventually was required to stop working as a result of his pain and injuries. He filed a claim for workers’ compensation benefits and sought reimbursement for payments he incurred for physical therapy. The worker argued that he suffered a second injury at the time that he permanently left work. The worker then underwent an independent medical examination to evaluate the nature and scope of his injury. In a workers’ compensation claim, the court will examine whether the injury is temporary or permanent and whether it is partial or total.

The judge denied the claim for physical therapy reimbursement, but awarded benefits regarding the original accident involving the collapsed retaining wall. As part of this finding, the judge also determined that the worker had enough training and skills to find a job in another industry that would not be physically demanding. A vocational expert performed this assessment, which involves evaluating the employee’s work history, education, experience, and other factors.

The worker filed an appeal, but the court denied it. The court concluded that there was enough evidence for the judge to conclude that the employee did not suffer a second, separately compensable injury when he stopped working. The lower court concluded that the employee was not a credible witness when testifying about the pain he experienced when he was performing his light-duty work assignment. An appellate court will defer to a lower court’s determination of witness credibility. The lower court has the benefit hearing, seeing, and speaking with a witness, which the appellate court does not. Because the lower court concluded that the employee was embellishing his inability to perform light duty work, its decision to deny an additional and separate request for benefits was upheld.

If you were involved in an injury or accident at work, you should seek a diligent and knowledgeable Massachusetts work injury lawyer to help guide you through the process. Attorney Michael O. Smith has handled a wide variety of workers’ compensation claims on behalf of residents throughout Boston and Massachusetts. He provides a free consultation so that you can learn more about the workers’ compensation system and whether you might be entitled to benefits. To schedule your consultation, call us at 617-263-0060 or contact us online.