Massachusetts Appellate Court Reverses Denial of Benefits due to Judge’s Improper Reliance on Video Surveillance Footage

There are a number of variables that a workers’ compensation judge must consider when determining if someone who was injured at work should receive benefits through the Massachusetts workers’ compensation system. One of these factors, and a frequently debated issue in workers’ compensation claims, is whether the injury that happened is related to the worker’s job duties. The average weekly wage that the injured employee earned is another example of an issue that comes up routinely. Regardless of the challenges in your claim for benefits, you deserve knowledgeable and attentive legal counsel.

A recent legal opinion discussed some of the common issues that come up in workers’ compensation claims regarding the cause of the injury and the weekly wage that was earned. The employee in the case suffered an injury while he was picking up different objects on the job. He reported feeling a sharp pain in his back. At a hearing involving his claim for worker’s compensation benefits, the man testified that he received many different forms of payment including cash, corporate checks, and personal checks. Based on this testimony and other evidence, the judge issued an order stating that the man’s average weekly wage totaled $800.00. The order also stated that the worker had received unemployment payments.

After the hearing, an independent medical examiner performed an examination to assess the man’s injuries. The doctor’s report stated that the man was able to work in a full-time position subject to a few limitations. The report also indicated that the man had a preexisting condition that was exacerbated by lifting objects at work and the injury to his back. According to the doctor’s assessments, the limitations would likely be unnecessary in the future.

In addition to receiving the medical report, the judge also reviewed video surveillance footage depicting the employee. The judge decided based on the video that the employee was no longer suffering from a work-related disability. As a result, his claim for benefits was denied.

The worker filed an appeal on the basis that the judge erred when deciding that he was not experiencing a work-related injury anymore. The man also argued that the video footage should not have been considered in reaching this conclusion. The appellate court reviewed the record of evidence and concluded that the court did commit a reversible error by relying on the video footage. According to one of the medical records in evidence, the back injury was a major cause of the disability that he was suffering. None of the other medical reports offered into evidence stated that the injury had ceased to cause him issues. Based on these findings, the appellate court vacated the order and remanded the case for more proceedings.

If you suffered an injury on the job, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits and reimbursement for your medical expenses. At Mass Injury Group, we proudly represent Massachusetts residents in work injury matters. We will ensure that your rights are protected and that you are given the fair outcome that you deserve as efficiently as possible. Call us today at 617-263-0060 or contact us online to learn more about your rights.