Massachusetts Case Assesses Whether Motorcycle Dealership Worker With Health Problems Should Obtain Unemployment Benefits

If a Massachusetts worker is injured or falls ill while conducting a work-related activity, he or she may be able to pursue a variety of benefits, including workers’ compensation, to help pay for daily expenses and medical bills. This system, under the Commonwealth’s workers’ compensation laws, is designed to make the process easier for all parties. The employer does not have to worry about extensive personal injury suits, and the injured worker does not have to prove fault and wait a long time for payment of benefits. Other structured benefits, like unemployment benefits, may also be available to help pay for the expenses.

The main difference between workers’ compensation and unemployment assistance through the Massachusetts Department of Unemployment Assistance (DUA) is that the DUA provides benefits to workers who are not working through no fault of their own, but are able to work. Workers’ compensation is designed to provide benefits to injured workers who are unable to work, both temporarily and permanently. The difference between what types of benefits are available can hinge on a very slight variation of fact or circumstance of when the illness or injury occurred, and what action was taken to address the injury or illness.

A recent Appeals Court case, Ferreira v. Dept. of Unemployment Assistance (14-P-423), reviews a situation where an employee sought benefits under the DUA after he left the employment of a motorcycle dealership as a result of a health condition that he felt compelled the resignation. Massachusetts case law has established that “an employee who leaves work due to a reasonable belief that his work environment was causing a health problem is not disqualified from benefits.” (See, e.g., Carney Hosp. v. Director of the Div. of Employment Security, 382 Mass. 691 (1981). The set of facts in Ferreira primarily looks at the medical proof offered to determine whether or not the injured person was entitled to unemployment benefit payments.

The worker experienced a transient ischemia attack (TIA), or mini-stroke, which ultimately led to his leaving his position at the dealership. He initially returned to work after 1 1/2 days, but he didn’t tell his supervisor that he thought the TIA was due to work-related stress, nor did he indicate in his eventual resignation letter that he was leaving due to health-related reasons. The appellate court noted that the primary care physician did not direct the worker to leave work but suggested he speak with a psychiatrist. The court also felt that the worker failed to back up his claim that the employer denied him opportunities to take time off and seek help. Based on the absence of evidence that the health problems led to an involuntary departure from his job, the Appeals Court affirmed the previous decisions in the agency’s favor.

This recent case shows that thorough documentation, particularly with medical concerns, is necessary for success in any pursuit of benefits. The Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorneys at the Law Office of James K. Meehan have the experience you need to help you understand and find what is required for a successful claim. If you’ve fallen ill or have been injured, and you need assistance obtaining the benefit payments you deserve, call our office today for a free, confidential consultation at 508.822.6600.

More Blog Posts:

Massachusetts Supreme Court Keeps Premises Liability Case Law Favorable for Injured Individuals, Massachusetts Injury Lawyers Blog, May 26, 2015
The Path to Damages after a Massachusetts Car Accident Can be a Complex, Winding One, Massachusetts Injury Lawyers Blog, May 22, 2015