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Massachusetts Court Upholds Award of Permanent and Total Disability Benefits to Employee Injured in Psychiatric Ward Attack

Some work injuries are minor and heal over time, while others are more severe and can result in serious or even permanent disabilities. If your injury will leave you requiring medical care and other expenses well into the future, it is essential that you receive the full amount of benefits and medical expenses reimbursement that you need and deserve. At the Law Office of Michael O. Smith, we have assisted many injured workers facing serious disabilities, and we are prepared to help you.

The Massachusetts workers’ compensation review board recently considered an issue involving a serious injury. The injured worker was seriously injured while working in a psychiatric ward. A patient attacked the worker, striking and kicking his abdomen. The attack was so severe that the worker became unconscious as a result. Unsurprisingly, the injured man required extensive medical attention for his several injuries. Medical records show that he sustained a leg fracture, chronic leg pain and lumbar pain, and deep vein thrombosis.

The injured worker initiated a workers’ compensation claim with his employer’s insurance carrier, requesting many different benefit payments, including temporary total incapacity payments and benefits to compensate him for his extensive medical bills. At issue with this initial request was the fact that the employee suffered from a pre-existing seizure disorder. The administrative law judge (ALJ) overseeing the claim awarded these benefits. The ALJ concluded that the new injuries were separate and distinct from the employee’s pre-existing condition.

The insurance carrier contested the ALJ’s award of benefits, but a panel of reviewing ALJs affirmed the lower ALJ’s conclusion. The injured worker underwent additional medical treatment and requested additional benefits to address the chronic pain that he was experiencing. According to his testimony, he was only capable of standing for 10 minutes and walking for 15 minutes before he experienced serious pain. During a hearing regarding the new request for benefits, the ALJ concluded that the worker was seriously disabled as a result of his work injury and that he was struggling to care for his own needs. An independent medical examiner who conducted an assessment of the employee had concluded that the worker was experiencing chronic and permanent pain as a result of the attack at work. The ALJ awarded the requested benefits to the worker, and the insurance carrier appealed.

The insurance carrier took issue with the ALJ’s reliance on the medical examiner’s report and testimony indicating that the worker suffered a permanent and total disability. Specifically, it claimed that the doctor impermissibly considered the worker’s pre-existing seizure disorder in reaching this conclusion. The appellate court ultimately upheld the ALJ’s conclusion that the employee was permanently and totally disabled, noting that the permanent nature of his injuries was causally connected to the work-related beating that took place. Also, the reviewing board emphasized that the ALJ stated in his final decision that the pre-existing condition was not part of his consideration in reaching the conclusion that the employee was permanently and totally disabled.

At the Law Office of Michael O. Smith, we have witnessed firsthand how devastating a work-related injury can be for a victim and his or her family. Our compassionate and responsive team of legal professionals is ready to help you navigate the Massachusetts workers’ compensation system while maximizing your recovery and ensuring that you pursue the compensation you require to recover from a devastating injury on the job. To schedule your free consultation, call us now at 617-263-0063 or contact us online.

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