Just because you were awarded workers’ compensation benefits does not mean that the insurance company will continue to pay them indefinitely. There are many procedures in the Massachusetts workers’ compensation system that allow an insurer to seek a cancellation, modification, or adjustment to an award of benefits. Having an experienced attorney on your side can help you ensure that you protect yourself against a revocation or reduction of your benefit payments down the road.
A Massachusetts appellate court recently reviewed a claim in which an insurance company asked the court to discontinue, modify, or recoup benefit payments that it was required to pay to an injured worker. The worker in the claim was injured on the job in a motor vehicle accident. The insurance company originally accepted liability for her injury, but it later fought her claim for reimbursement for medical treatments. The worker appealed the insurance company’s denial, and the judge issued an order requiring the insurance company to pay for the treatments as well as disability benefits. The insurance company filed an appeal and offered more medical records. At the end of the appeal hearing, the judge affirmed the decision to require the company to provide reimbursements for medical expenses and disability benefits.
The insurance company appealed this order on several grounds, including an assertion that the judge misstated medical expert testimony in his opinion. The insurance company also alleged that the judge impermissibly relied on his own personal observations of the worker during a hearing to conclude that she was uncomfortable and suffering from work-related injuries.
The appellate court responded to each of the insurance company’s assignments of error but ultimately concluded that any error the lower court made was harmless and did not warrant a reversal of the award of benefits. The harmless error at issue was the judge’s statements on the record indicating that the worker appeared uncomfortable during the hearing and shifted in her seat frequently. The trial record did not contain any evidence supporting this behavior or indicating that she was uncomfortable. The appellate court stated that a judge can review only the evidence that was introduced properly. This gives the parties a fair shot at challenging any evidence and establishes a consistent and complete record should either party wish to appeal the outcome. Despite this error, the court found that there was sufficient additional evidence in the record to support the judge’s conclusion that the woman suffered a compensable work-related injury.
If you were harmed at work, you probably have questions about whether you are entitled to compensation and how to go about asserting your right to benefits. Our seasoned team of legal professionals has handled a wide variety of claims involving additional proceedings and requests for modifications after an initial award of benefits. We offer a free consultation to help you learn more about the workers’ compensation system and how we can assist you in receiving the maximum amount of compensation that you deserve. To schedule your appointment, call us at 617-263-0060 or contact us online to get started.
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