Massachusetts Appellate Court Upholds Award of Permanent and Total Disability Benefits in Psychiatric Hospital Attack

If you are injured at work, you will probably have to take some time off to address your injuries, receive medical treatment, and heal. In some situations, your injuries may resolve over time. But in unfortunate situations involving severe work-related injuries, you may be left with a permanent disability. Some insurers will try to argue that you have only a temporary or partial disability so that they can avoid paying the amount of benefits that you deserve. Our lead attorney Michael O. Smith is prepared to help you ensure that your injury is classified correctly and that you are treated fairly throughout your Boston workers’ compensation claim process.

Recently, the Massachusetts Court of Appeal decided an appeal involving an employee who reportedly sustained a series of traumatic injuries while employed as an aid at a psychiatric hospital. The man was attacked by a patient resulting in devastating injuries including a fracture in his right leg, chronic pain, instability, and deep vein thrombosis. He sought benefits in a workers’ compensation claim, which he was initially awarded. The judge identified various pre-existing injuries in the order awarding benefits but concluded that the pre-existing conditions were not the primary cause of the injuries and pain that he was experiencing after the attack.

The injured employee pursued another claim for benefits sometime thereafter. The judge that heard this claim determined that the employee had become so severely injured that he was functionally unable to provide care for himself and to perform daily tasks easily. Based on this and a report from an independent medical examiner, the judge issued an order stating that the employee was permanently and totally disabled as a result of the attack.

The employer’s insurance company appealed this decision on the basis that there was not enough evidence in the record to support the finding of permanent and total disability. The insurer argued that the doctor who wrote a report regarding the employee’s injuries also partially relied on his pre-existing injuries. The appellate court disagreed with the insurer finding that a judge is entitled to adopt parts of expert medical opinion and is not required to rely on the entirety of the opinion provided in the report. The judge noted in the order finding permanent and total disability that it did not disturb his original findings of the employee’s pre-existing conditions and their lack of applicability to this situation.

The insurance company also argued that the lower court made a reversible error in rejecting testimony from its vocational expert regarding employment opportunities that were suitable for the worker. According to the appellate court, the judge cited testimony from the worker, who the lower court found credible as a witness, about the severity of his injuries and the drastic limitations he experienced in his daily life.

If you suffered an injury at work, you deserve compassionate and experienced legal representation to help you assert your right to weekly benefit payments and reimbursement for medical expenses associated with the injury. The claims process can be incredibly complicated and often involves multiple hearings and examinations. The Boston workers’ compensation attorneys of the Law Office of Michael O. Smith will do their best to ensure that you are treated fairly during every step of the process. Contact us now at 617-263-0060 or contact us online to begin the process of setting up your free consultation.