Massachusetts Court Upholds Award of Benefits to Injured Machine Operator over Insurer’s Normal Wear and Tear Challenge

Workers’ compensation accidents take many different shapes and forms. Some of the most obvious injuries are sudden and traumatic like a broken leg and strained muscles. Other injuries result from wear and tear over a long period of time. One of the most common issues in any workers’ compensation claim is linking your injury to your job duties, and insurance companies often attempt to argue that your injury stemmed from something else and that they are therefore not liable. Our seasoned team of Boston workers’ compensation lawyers is standing by to assist you with ensuring that you receive the outcome that you deserve.

Recently, the Massachusetts Court of Appeal considered a claim where the insurer challenged a benefits award and medical expenses reimbursement for an employee that was in charge of operating two large machines that attached labels to bottles. The daily course of the employee’s job was extremely fast-paced and she was required to attend to several aspects of the machine to ensure that it ran smoothly and efficiently for 10-12 hour shifts at a time. A large part of her responsibilities involved climbing in and out of the machine and to be on her feet monitoring the machine.

She was injured one day during her shift when she slipped off of a bar that she was standing on to swap out parts in the machine. She received immediate medical care and attempted to go back to work but she reported ongoing pain that caused her to be too slow on the job. She occasionally took days off due to the pain.

The worker filed a claim seeking benefits and her claim was awarded. The insurer and the woman appealed and the insurer argued that the judge should have classified her injury as a wear and tear injury instead of a work-related injury. The insurer claimed that the walking and standing that the employee performed at work was normal wear and tear. The appellate court first noted that for an injury to be compensable under a workers’ compensation claim it must be derived from the worker’s job conditions or requirements. In other words, injuries that are sustained as the result of normal activities that an employee would engage in as part of his or her normal life cannot be compensated under the workers’ compensation system.

Applied here, the appellate court concluded that the worker’s injuries were not the result of normal wear and tear associated with walking and standing. Instead, the appellate court associated the injuries with the woman’s need to climb inside the machine and change out parts. Based on this, the appellate court upheld the award of benefits.

Our seasoned team of Boston work injury lawyers knows just how difficult it can be to understand whether you deserve benefits after suffering an injury at work. We provide a free consultation to discuss your situation and to help you understand how we might be able to help you gather evidence, identify witnesses, and ensure that insurance companies treat you fairly. To schedule your free consultation, call us at 617-263-0060 or contact us online.

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