Although the Massachusetts workers’ compensation system allows injured workers to receive benefit payments, a worker who suffers a temporary or partial disability may be asked to perform light duty work by the employer until he or she is cleared to return to the same capacity as before the injury. Determining whether the employee is capable of performing light duty work requires medical examinations and other findings. In some cases, an employee is capable of still performing some sedentary tasks, but in other cases, even light duty work is out of the question. As knowledgeable work injury lawyers, the legal professionals at the Law Office of Michael O. Smith have handled numerous work injury claims and are ready to assist you.
A recent case highlights issues that can arise with light duty work. The man suffered a slip and fall injury while working as a patrolman and spent the next several years receiving various medical treatments and diagnoses for his injuries. When he fell, he used his right arm to brace the impact and had sustained serious injuries to his right arm. The worker tried on several occasions to return to his regular job and worked in a light duty capacity in some instances. Even in a light duty capacity, the worker reported experiencing continued pain.
The worker eventually applied for workers’ compensation benefits. The court awarded benefits on the basis that the worker tried to engage in meaningful work, his need for surgery and continued pain, and the fact that he was totally disabled as a result of the injury. The insurer appealed the award of benefits on the basis that the court did not give it a fair opportunity to provide medical evidence and that one of the reports from an independent medical examiner was incomplete.
The appellate court disagreed with the insurer on the basis that the insurer failed to make appropriate objections at the trial court level. When the report at issue was first brought into evidence, for example, the insurer did not make an objection to its alleged incompleteness. If a party does not object to something when it occurs during the proceedings, the party has effectively waived his or her right to object and cannot later assert that objection on appeal.
The appellate court also concluded that the lower court did not err in describing the award of medical treatment as pertaining to the worker’s “upper right extremity.” Although this was a broad characterization of the worker’s injury, other portions of the judge’s award clearly referred to the specific injuries that the worker sustained in the slip and fall accident.
If you were injured while at work either from a sudden accident or a repetitive injury you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. It can be difficult to understand your rights while also dealing with your injuries and having to miss work. We offer a free consultation so that you can discuss your work injury with our legal team and learn more about your potential work injury claim. Contact us today at (617) 263-0060 or contact us online to set up your appointment.