Massachusetts Court Discusses Credibility in Workers’ Compensation Cases

It is critical for people who suffer injuries at work to notify their employers of their harm as soon as possible. If they fail to do so, they may ultimately be denied workers’ compensation benefits. This was demonstrated in a recent Massachusetts ruling, in which the court affirmed a claimant’s denial of benefits in a workers’ compensation matter, in part because it found that his failure to report his injury supported the conclusion that he was not credible. If you were hurt at work, it is smart to retain a Massachusetts workers’ compensation lawyer to assist you in pursuing any benefits you may be owed.

The Plaintiff’s Harm

It is alleged that the claimant injured his back while operating a backhoe for his employer. Specifically, he asserted that in January 2015, he was using a backhoe when he hit an area of raised asphalt and stopped short, which caused him to lunge forward. He subsequently felt pain in his head that radiated down the left side of his body. He completed his shift but experienced headaches and pain in his neck the following day.

Reportedly, the claimant experienced similar incidents in February 2016, and in March 2016, he hit his head while exiting a truck. He alleged that the subsequent incidents aggravated his initial injury. The claimant filed a workers’ compensation claim, which the administrative judge rejected after determining that his testimony was not credible. The reviewing board affirmed the judge’s decision, and the claimant appealed.

Credibility Determinations in Workers’ Compensation Cases

The claimant’s primary argument on appeal was that the administrative judge’s determination that the claimant was not credible lacked factual support. The court disagreed. Specifically, the court explained that, according to the employer’s testimony, the claimant never notified his employer that he had sustained any injuries before he filed his workers’ compensation claims. The court affirmed that this fact supported the conclusion that the claimant’s testimony to the contrary was not credible.

Further, the administrative judge referenced the claimant’s demeanor when explaining her credibility determination. The court explained that the administrative judge was in the best position to assess the claimant’s demeanor and opted to defer to her credibility assessment unless the claimant could offer proof that it was blatantly improper. Ultimately, the court found it could not reasonably state that the administrative judge’s credibility assessment was clearly improper, based on the evidence of record. As such, it affirmed the decision of the reviewing board.

Speak to a Trusted Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Lawyer

There are numerous factors that can affect the outcome of a workers’ compensation claim, including whether the claimant is deemed credible. If you were hurt at work, you might be owed benefits, and you should speak to an attorney promptly. James K. Meehan of the Law Office of James K. Meehan is a trusted workers’ compensation lawyer who can gather the evidence needed to help you seek the best legal result possible under the facts of your case. You can contact him via the form online or by calling 508-822-6600 to set up a conference.