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Massachusetts Appellate Court Reverses Order Granting Termination of Temporary Total Incapacity Benefits Based on Unreviewed Evidence

The workers’ compensation claims process can be daunting, especially if you are dealing with painful injuries and serious disruptions to your life. Once you are awarded benefits and compensation for medical expenses, there is no guarantee that this award will remain unchanged. Employers can request modifications or terminations of benefits after the original award. There are many procedural rules involved with this review process, and many of them involve the type of evidence that a judge must consider when deciding whether to modify or terminate a benefits award. As dedicated Boston workers’ compensation lawyers, we have assisted many injured employees with protecting their right to compensation, and we are ready to assist you.

A recent appellate opinion discusses a situation in which an employee challenged a court’s decision to deny benefit payments. The injured employee was working as a cook and general laborer at the time that he was injured. The employee reported slipping and falling off a ladder while he was cleaning an ice machine. Although the employee attempted to return to work after receiving medical treatment, he was sent home because he was unable to perform his job duties.

The employer’s workers’ compensation insurer paid temporary total incapacity benefits and later filed a complaint, asking the court to discontinue or modify the benefit payments. The judge effectively granted the request, and the employee appealed. As part of the appeal, the employee underwent an impartial medical examination. During a hearing regarding the appeal, the employee filed a number of motions, including one seeking to strike one of the impartial medical examiner’s reports. The court denied this motion. The parties also submitted a joint exhibit containing additional medical records.

After the conclusion of the hearing, the judge made a number of findings regarding the employee’s condition and the medical testimony, and he ultimately denied and dismissed the employee’s claim for benefits. The employee appealed, arguing that the judge failed to consider the joint medical information exhibit that the parties filed. According to the employee, this file contained medical opinions indicating that the employee was totally disabled. The appellate court agreed, finding that the file did not contain any indicia of the joint exhibit. The court reviewed the process for submitting evidence and concluded that the judge did not review the joint exhibit before reaching his decision regarding the denial of benefits. Based on this conclusion, the appellate court reversed the lower court’s order and remanded the case with instructions to make further findings based on the inclusion of the joint exhibit.

If you’ve been hurt on the job, the dedicated workers’ compensation lawyers at the Law Office of Michael O. Smith are prepared to help you understand and assert your right to benefit payments. We know how stressful a work-related injury can be for you and your family, especially if you are facing total and permanent disabilities. We will ensure that you are treated fairly and that insurance companies play by the rules. To set up your free consultation, call us now at 617-263-0060 or contact us online.

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