Articles Posted in Workers’ Compensation

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Under Massachusetts law, if a person is injured in the course of his or her employment during an activity that arises out of his or her job, the person may be able to recover workers’ compensation benefits. Thus, if a person is injured traveling for his or her job, the person can file a workers’ compensation claim. Recently, the Appeals Court of Massachusetts, Suffolk, analyzed when traveling constitutes an act taken in furtherance of a business so as to warrant workers’ compensation benefits for injuries sustained during travel, in a case in which the court denied benefits to the estate of a worker who died while traveling. If you were injured while traveling for work, you should meet with a capable Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney to discuss whether your employer may owe you workers’ compensation benefits.

Facts Regarding the Decedent’s Harm

It is alleged that the decedent, who was the principal of a family-owned business, died in a car accident in February 2014. The decedent’s widow subsequently filed a claim for workers’ compensation benefits. An administrative judge determined that the decedent was not killed during a trip that was undertaken in the furtherance of his company’s business and denied the decedent’s wife’s claim. The review board affirmed, after which the decedent’s wife appealed.

When Travel is a Work-Related Activity

The Massachusetts workers’ compensation acts covers injuries that arise out of work and occur in the course of work. Additionally, injuries suffered while traveling for the business affairs of an employer, that arise out of an ordinary risk of traveling are covered as well. In determining whether the risk of the trip was a personal risk or a risk of the employment, the court must assess whether the employment caused the employee to embark on the journey, or whether the trip was undertaken for other reasons. Continue reading →

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In Massachusetts, when a person injured at work seeks workers’ compensation benefits, he or she must prove the elements of his or her claim, which includes establishing that his or her injury was caused by a work-related incident. Recently, the Appeals Court of Massachusetts discussed whether an administrative judge is required to adopt the opinion of an impartial medical expert with regard to causation, in a case in which the claimant appealed the denial of his request for benefits. If you sustained work-related injuries, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits and should speak with a skilled Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney regarding what evidence you must produce to recover damages.

Facts Regarding the Claimant’s Injury

Reportedly, the claimant injured his hip and back when slipped on wet plywood while employed as a laborer for a roofing company. He stated he slid down the roof but did not fall off, due to a safety harness. He continued to work the remainder of the day, passing shingles to other workers. He was twenty-six years old at the time of the incident. Two days after the incident, the claimant accepted an offer from the roofing company to shovel snow and subsequently shoveled snow throughout the winter.

Allegedly, the claimant began experiencing back pain shortly after the incident but did not seek treatment for over a month. He subsequently stopped working five months after the incident and filed a workers’ compensation claim against the roofing company, and because the roofing company was not fully insured, against the workers’ compensation trust fund. The claimant was denied benefits, after which he presented his claims to an administrative judge.

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Workplace injuries not only cause physical harm, they often inhibit a person’s ability to earn an income as well. Most employers carry workers’ compensation insurance, however, which provide wage loss benefits to employees injured in the workplace in certain instances. As recently explained by the Appeals Court of Massachusetts, however, wage loss benefits are meant to replace income lost due to a workplace injury and an injured employee will not be eligible for such benefits if he or she is able to earn more than he or she earned prior to the injury. If you suffered a workplace injury and can no longer earn an income, it is critical to retain a knowledgeable Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney to help you pursue any benefits you may be owed.

The Claimant’s Injury and Workers’ Compensation Claim

It is reported that the claimant suffered a work-related injury in January 2013. He underwent physical therapy, after which he attempted to return to work but claimed that he was unable to perform the functions of the job. The employer’s workers’ compensation insurer paid the employee total incapacity benefits initially but filed a request to discontinue the benefits. Subsequently, in July 2015, an administrative judge granted the insurer’s request. The judge found that the claimant was partially disabled but was able to return to light duty work at least three-quarters of the hours he previously worked. Additionally, the judge found that three-quarter time work exceeded the stipulated weekly wage, even at minimum wage. Thus, the judge terminated the claimant’s total incapacity replacement benefits. The claimant appealed.

A reviewing board then vacated the administrative judge’s decision and recommitted the case for further review, due to the fact that the administrative judge did not review the claimant’s medical documents. The administrative judge then reviewed the medical documents, and once again denied the claimant’s wage loss claim. The reviewing board then affirmed the judge’s decision.

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Under the Massachusetts workers’ compensation act, if a person is injured at work he or she can seek workers’ compensation benefits. Even if a person recovers benefits, he or she is still permitted to file a third-party negligence claim against the individual that caused his or her harm, as illustrated in a recent case decided by a Massachusetts Appellate Court.

Additionally, the court explained that the Massachusetts workers’ compensation act prohibits an employer from retaliating against an employee for pursuing a tort claim.  If you were harmed in a work-related injury, you should meet with a trusted Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney to evaluate your case and assess your avenues for seeking recovery of compensation.

Facts Regarding Plaintiff’s Employment

Reportedly, the plaintiff was hired by a temp agency to work at the defendant manufacturing facility. While working there, the plaintiff was injured when one of the defendant’s employee’s negligent operation of a forklift caused metal sheets to fall on her foot. The plaintiff filed a workers’ compensation claim with the temp agency and received benefits. She was then hired as a full-time employee by the defendant. The plaintiff subsequently filed a lawsuit against the defendant and its employee for the harm suffered in the accident, alleging theories of negligence and respondeat superior. The defendant then terminated the plaintiff, stating the lawsuit as the cause of her termination. The plaintiff amended her lawsuit to include a claim for retaliatory termination. The defendant filed a motion to dismiss the case in its entirety which the trial court granted. The plaintiff appealed. 

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Work-related injuries don’t always arise from accidents but can be caused by repetitive use. Proving that a repetitive use injury is work-related can be complicated, and employers will often try to avoid paying workers’ compensation benefits by arguing an injury was caused by wear and tear rather than conditions encountered in the work environment.

In Maldonando v. CPF Incorporated, the Department of Industrial Accidents Reviewing Board explained the difference between an injury due to wear and tear and a compensable injury in a workers’ compensation claim. If you suffered injuries in an employment-related accident, it is in your best interest to consult an experienced Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation attorney to discuss what benefits you may be able to recover.

Claimant’s Work Duties and Injuries

Allegedly, the claimant, who was in her late fifties, worked placing labels on soda bottles in a factory. The bottles traveled down a conveyor belt and often fell over, and the claimant was required to upright them and make sure the labels were placed properly. Her shifts lasted ten to twelve hours per day, and she was required to walk or stand constantly during her shifts.

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In workers’ compensation disputes it is common for the claimant and employer to agree on some issues and disagree on others. In a hearing to determine whether a claimant is entitled to workers’ compensation benefits, only disputed issues should be considered and ruled upon by the hearing judge.

In Milton v. GT Advanced Technologies, the Industrial Accidents Reviewing Board found that an administrative judge improperly expanded the parameters of a workers’ compensation claim by evaluating undisputed issues, and overturned the judge’s findings.  If you were harmed in a work-related injury it is in your best interest to consult an experienced Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney to evaluate your case and any potential obstacles to your recovery of benefits.

Factual Scenario

The claimant was employed with the first employer from 2007 through 2012. He then left the first employer to work for the second employer. The claimant’s responsibilities in both positions required him to undertake physically strenuous work. In 2015, the claimant filed a claim against both employers seeking workers’ compensation benefits due to a lower back injury. Following a hearing on the matter, an administrative judge denied both claims. The claimant appealed and on appeal, the reviewing board agreed with the claimant and reversed the decision.

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In analyzing whether an employee suffered a work-related injury, it is common for an employer’s workers’ compensation insurer to require an employee to undergo a medical examination, after which the examining physician will issue a report. The physician report can make or break an employee’s case, depending on whether or not the physician finds the employee suffered a work-related injury.

In Reymundo Villar v. Advanced Auto Parts, the Industrial Accidents Reviewing Board recently held that the specific phrase that an injury did not arise out of employment is not necessary to support a finding that an injury is not work-related in a Massachusetts workers’ compensation claim. If you suffered a work-related injury, you should meet with a skilled Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney to ensure your claim is evaluated properly.

Facts of the Case

Reportedly, the employee in Villar, injured his right shoulder and thumb while working for the employer. He was unable to work for a short period, after which he underwent physical therapy and returned to work light duty. He then felt pain in his left shoulder, after which he stopped working. The employee continued to undergo physical therapy for several years and ultimately underwent several surgeries on his right shoulder and thumb, with no improvement in his symptoms.

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While most illnesses are apparent at the time of onset, many work-related illnesses are not diagnosed for several years. If you contracted an illness due to your employment, you should be entitled to recover compensation regardless of when the illness became apparent. In Jones’s Case (Gregory B. Jones vs. NSTAR & others, 2017-P-0951), the Court of Appeals of Massachusetts found that an employer was liable for a claimant’s disability benefits for an illness contracted during the claimant’s employment, even though the claimant was not diagnosed for several years after his employment ended. If you are suffering from a work-related illness, you should confer with an experienced Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney to ensure you recover the workers’ compensation benefits you are owed.

Factual Scenario

Reportedly, the Claimant worked for Employer from 2001 to 2007. In 2006, he began feeling ill, and in 2011 he was diagnosed with Lyme disease. Shortly after that, he took a medical leave from his position with his new company.  After a year of treatment, he was able to resume work. A workers’ compensation benefits hearing was held in front of an administrative judge, during which the Claimant introduced testimony and evidence from medical experts which supported the finding that the Claimant contracted Lyme disease during his employment with Employer.

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While many injuries sustained at work are minor, some workplace injuries cause permanent disabilities that leave the injured employee unable to earn a living. Under Massachusetts workers’ compensation law, you must prove that you are unable to earn wages of any kind to show that you are permanently disabled. If you do not present sufficient evidence of your permanent disability, you will be denied compensation. In Rivera’s Case, the Court of Appeals of Massachusetts held that simply showing an employee is unable to return to his prior employment is insufficient to show the employee was unable to earn wages in any position. If you were injured at work, it is important to consult with a seasoned workers’ compensation attorney in your pursuit of workers’ compensation benefits, to ensure your case is properly handled.

Facts of the Case

In Rivera, the employee injured his knees breaking up a fight at work in 1996, and subsequently underwent bilateral knee surgery. He received total incapacity benefits from his employer until he returned to work in 2006. In 2011, the employee then sought additional treatment for his left knee and filed a claim for benefits to enable him to undergo an evaluation. An administrative judge set forth a conference order stating employer was required to pay for the evaluation. The employee then underwent an MRI of his knee and an orthopedic surgeon recommended the surgery. The employer appealed the conference order but at the same time issued a utilization review approval of the suggested surgery. The employee underwent surgery, for which the employer denied coverage. The employee was out of work from March 13, 2012 through June 18, 2012, for which he filed a claim for benefits. The employer then paid for the surgery and medical services, but did not offer total incapacity benefits for the period of time the employee did not work.

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While some workplace injuries resolve in a relatively short time, others continue to cause issues years after the initial injury. Employees are entitled to recover compensation for almost all work related injuries, but when an employee suffers more than one injury, it can become unclear who is responsible for providing workers’ compensation benefits. Pursuant to Massachusetts’s workers’ compensation law, only one insurer is liable for benefits for a disability, even if the employee suffers two or more injuries that contribute to the disability. In Lombardo’s Case, the Court of Appeals of Massachusetts explained that whichever insurer provided insurance at the time of the latest injury that contributed to an employee’s disability is liable for the entire amount of compensation benefits. If you sustained injuries in a work related accident, you should retain an experienced workers’ compensation attorney to assist you in recovering the full amount of benefits to which you are entitled.

Factual Background

Allegedly, the employee in Lombardo suffered a knee injury while in the course of his job duties. His employer’s workers’ compensation insurer accepted his claim and paid him the benefits he was owed. The employee subsequently returned to work without issue for ten years. Reportedly, he was then diagnosed with arthritis and eventually underwent a total knee replacement. He retired prior to his knee replacement and filed a claim with the Department of Industrial Accidents for additional disability benefits.