Massachusetts Court Upholds Award of Permanent & Temporary Benefits for Psychiatric Injury Following Job-Related Accident

An injury at work can leave the victim in a seriously painful situation. This doesn’t just include the physical aspects of the injury but the inconvenience and uncertainty that he or she now faces in his or her life. From being unable to earn your regular wage to being unable to enjoy the same activities that you did before, work injuries are a major event for most victims. What some people don’t realize about the Massachusetts workers’ compensation system is that it offers benefits for individuals who suffer psychiatric injuries as well as physical injuries, too. At Mass Injury Group, our experienced team of Boston workers’ compensation lawyers is prepared to help you determine whether you are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits for the injuries that you sustained regardless of whether they are physical or psychological.

A recent case from the Massachusetts Court of Appeals involved a worker who served as a developmental aid. This included working with clients who suffered from developmental disabilities and helping them with using the restroom, which was physically demanding. During 2011, the worker experienced two injuries on the job beginning with a fall that she suffered while helping a patient. This injury resulted in a back, left knee, shoulder, and neck injury. Her next accident affected her left knee. She filed a claim for benefits, which the employer accepted and filed another claim seeking benefits for her injuries including a claimed psychiatric injury.

An initial hearing was held, and the presiding administrative law judge determined that she was not able to lift anything or to stand for an extended period of time due to her injuries. The judge also concluded that her injuries left her with limited mobility. Regarding her psychiatric injury, the judge determined that because of her extremely low mobility, the pain she experienced, and the total overall impact that her injuries had on her personal life, she was experiencing mental distress. The record showed that at one point the woman was placed in a hospital for five days because she reported having suicidal thoughts. A doctor stated in one of the reports admitted into evidence that she was totally disabled but that through psychotherapy and pain management she may be able to overcome some of her limitations.

Sometime later, the employee filed another claim seeking benefits for the permanent loss of function of some of her body as a result of the injuries that she sustained. Whether or not her psychiatric injury was permanent also came up during this dispute. A doctor examined her and testified that she was experiencing a major depressive disorder as well as a somatic pain disorder and that these conditions were directly caused to the accident she suffered at work. She was no longer able to feel good about herself or participate in many of the same activities that she enjoyed previously. The judge entered an order concluding that she was totally and permanently disabled. The employer’s insurance carrier appealed but the reviewing court denied the appeal finding ample evidence in the record to support the finding that the work-related injury was directly responsible for her conditions.

If you were injured on the job you probably have questions about whether you are entitled to benefits and the best way to go about asserting your rights. At Mass Injury Group, our Massachusetts workers’ compensation lawyers understand how important this situation is to you and your well-being. We offer a free consultation to help you explore your options and how we may be able to assist you with filing a workers’ compensation claim. Call us today at 617-263-0060 or contact us online to get started.