Massachusetts Court Reverses Denial of Benefits in Back Injury Case for Failure to Properly Assess Employee’s Credibility

Workers’ compensation claims have many different phases and components that must be addressed before an award of benefits or medical expenses reimbursements can be made. During this process, the parties are allowed to offer different kinds of evidence to shed light on the nature and scope of the worker’s alleged injuries. There are specific rules regarding the type of evidence that the judge is allowed to consider. As competent Massachusetts work injury lawyers, we are well-versed in these rules and can ensure that your claim is handled fairly at all phases of the process.

The Massachusetts Court of Appeal published an opinion involving this issue. The worker was employed as a technician and facility manager. he moved to another company to perform similar job duties and filed a claim for aggravation of an existing back injury that he suffered while working for the new employer. As part of the claim process, the worker testified regarding the nature and extent of the injury and his medical history. The judge presiding over the claim denied his claim on the grounds that the worker was not a credible person and that he did not have an accurate grasp of the events surrounding his job history and injuries. The judge’s opinion stated that the hearing lacked any convincing evidence that the worker experienced an industrial accident, or that the worker’s medical history supported an injury.

The employee filed an appeal on the basis that the judge made an alleged error regarding rejecting the employee’s credibility. More specifically, the employee alleged that the judge impermissibly expanded the scope of the dispute by concluding that the worker did not incur an injury while working with either the first or second employer. In reviewing this allegation, the appellate court first recited the basic premise that an appellate court can only overturn a finding of a witness’ credibility if it was made in an arbitrary and capricious manner and not based on the evidence presented in the matter.

Applying this standard of review to the case, the appellate court determined that the judge made a reversible error in determining that the employee was not credible and that he did not suffer an injury. The record showed that the judge refused to accept every component of the testimony that the worker provided and his medical history without providing a specific basis or factual findings to support this conclusion. According to the appellate court, the judge’s ability to identify supporting facts was likely skewed by his conclusion that the worker did not suffer a job-related injury. The reviewing court vacated the order denying the man’s request for benefits and remanded the case for further proceedings.

Being hurt at work is incredibly disruptive and stressful, particularly if your injuries will have long-lasting effects. Our dedicated team of Boston workers’ compensation lawyers is prepared to help you understand the claims process and to ensure that you receive the fair treatment that you deserve throughout the matter. We offer a free consultation so call us at 617-263-0060 or contact us online.

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