Court Examines Medical Benefits Under Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Law

Pursuant to the Massachusetts Workers Compensation Act, employers have an obligation to provide employees that suffer work-related harm with medical benefits. Typically, such benefits include prescription medications. While the rules regarding medical benefits seem to be straightforward, workers’ compensation claims can become complicated when they involve drugs that are unlawful in certain capacities. For example, a Massachusetts court recently addressed the issue of whether a workers’ compensation insurer had an obligation to reimburse an injured employee for the cost of medical marijuana. If you were hurt at work you might be eligible to recover workers’ compensation benefits, and you should contact a Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney to examine your rights.

The Facts of the Case

It is alleged that in 2014, the plaintiff suffered an injury while working. Facts regarding the nature of the plaintiff’s work and the harm he sustained were not provided. He subsequently filed a claim with his employer’s workers’ compensation employer, seeking reimbursement for the cost of medical marijuana that he used to treat pain associated with his work injury. An administrative judge denied his claim. The denial was affirmed by the reviewing board of the Department of Industrial Accidents. He then sought review from the Appeals Court of Massachusetts.

Medical Benefits Under Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Law

Upon review, the Appeals Court of Massachusetts affirmed the decision of the reviewing board. The court found that, pursuant to prevailing Massachusetts case law, a workers’ compensation insurer cannot be compelled to pay for an injured employee’s medical marijuana expenses based on the terms of the marijuana act.

In the subject case, as in the controlling case, the employee filed a claim for benefits under the Workers’ Compensation Act, requesting reimbursement for medical expenses incurred from his treatment with medical marijuana. In the controlling case, the court carefully considered the manner in which the Massachusetts medical marijuana act was drafted. Specifically, it noted that it included provisions that were expressly designed to avoid conflicts with federal law. For example, the reimbursement limitation provision of the Massachusetts medical marijuana act prevented a government agency or health insurance provider from being ordered to reimburse a claimant for the costs associated with medical marijuana. Based on the foregoing, the court found that it was constrained to confirm the decision of the reviewing board.

Speak to a Trusted Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Lawyer

People who are hurt in workplace accidents often require significant medical care, which in many cases includes prescription medication. While the expenses associated with such drugs are typically covered, there may be exceptions. If you were hurt in a work accident, it is sensible to speak to an attorney as soon as possible. James K. Meehan of the Law Office of James K. Meehan is a trusted workers’ compensation lawyer with ample experience helping injured workers seek redress for their harm, and if he represents you, we will diligently pursue the best legal result possible under the facts of your case. You can reach him by calling 508-822-6600 or by using the online form to set up a meeting.