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Massachusetts Appellate Court Reassigns Workers’ Compensation Claim to New Judge After Finding of Impartiality

One of the hallmarks of the American justice system is receiving a fair and unbiased trial. It can be incredibly frustrating to feel like the judge presiding over your case is not following the rules or acting in an unbiased manner. On top of figuring out how to navigate the Massachusetts workers’ compensation system, you may have to take steps to correct any bias or impartial conduct from the judge assigned to your case. One way to protect yourself and to make sure that your case is being handled properly is to work with one of our Boston work injury lawyers. Contact us now to learn more about the services that we can provide to you.

In a recent workers’ compensation claim dispute, the insurance company involved in the claim objected to the outcome of a hearing on the basis that the judge acted impartially. In the claim, the injured worker alleged that she hurt her knee and her back in 2014 while at work. She received benefits for a short timeframe after initially filing her claim. An independent medical examiner conducted an exam and issued a report stating that the worker had reached a point called maximum medical improvement. The report further stated that she would only be disabled for another six months. In issue its findings, the court selected sections from three different reports and concluded that the worker’s disability was permanent.

In its appeal, the insurance company stated that the judge’s decision to take pieces from multiple different reports showed impartiality and that the judge was trying to reach the desired outcome that was not based on the entirety of the evidence in the record. The insurance company won its appeal, and the case was remanded for additional proceedings. The judge did not make any modifications to the original decision and disagreed with the appellate court that impartiality was involved in the decision.

Appealing for a second time, the insurance company asked the reviewing court to select another judge to hear the case. The appellate court once again criticized the lower court for choosing piecemeal portions of evidence in the record. It also concluded that the lower court failed to take any steps to address the allegations of impartiality.

The appellate court also concluded that the lower court judge looked into a number of issues that neither the worker nor the insurance company had raised on appeal. If neither party raises an issue nor makes an objection about an issue, then the court is usually not supposed to dig deeper into the situation. Judges are limited to making findings regarding issues that are properly before them in a hearing, which means that a party must first raise the issue. The appellate court ultimately remanded the case and asked for it to be assigned to a different judge.

If you were hurt at work, we are standing by to offer you a free consultation so that you can learn more about your options and legal rights. The Boston work injury lawyers at Mass Injury Group understand how important it is for you to get the financial support that you deserve during this stressful time. Call now at 617-263-0060 or contact us online for your free consult.

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