Massachusetts Court Discusses Permanently Disabilities in Workers’ Compensation Cases

Workplace injuries can, in certain situations, be cured with adequate rest and therapy. In some cases, though, a workplace injury is serious enough to result in lasting disabilities. The Massachusetts workers’ compensation system is intended to compensate employees for lost pay and reimburse them for medical expenses while they recover. Cases involving severe and lasting injuries, though, can become complicated, and insurers may dispute whether continuing care is necessary. This was demonstrated in a recent Massachusetts workers’ compensation case, in which an insurer attempted to avoid paying an employee benefits. If you were harmed at work, you should speak to a skilled Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney regarding your rights.

Facts of the Case

It is alleged that the claimant sustained traumatic injuries while working in a psychiatric ward of a hospital. He was attacked by a patient, who continuously kicked him until he passed out. He needed continuous medical care for a right leg fracture, deep vein thrombosis, persistent pain, and instability as a result of the attack, and sought workers’ compensation benefits. The judge granted the worker’s application for benefits but noted a variety of pre-existing diseases that were not linked to the accident in the award, like the claimant’s degenerative arthritis of the spine. The judge ultimately determined that the employee’s pre-existing conditions did not increase the need for treatment or the duration of his disability.

Reportedly, the claimant filed a claim for additional benefits. Based on the facts presented at the hearing, the judge found that the worker suffered severe injuries, and was permanently and fully incapacitated as a result of the attack. He further stated that his findings did not change the judge’s previous decision that the employee’s pre-existing ailments were unrelated to the attack. The insurer filed an appeal.

Evidence of Disability

On appeal, the insurer argued that the judge should not have accepted the independent medical examiner’s report finding that the employee was permanently and totally handicapped because the doctor who produced the report based his decision in part on the employee’s pre-existing diseases. The appellate court eventually dismissed this argument, noting that a judge might accept all or part of an independent medical examiner’s report and that the judge clearly indicated that past conclusions involving pre-existing injuries were not affected by the finding. Further, the evidence did not reveal any change in the employee’s pre-existing conditions following the accident.

The insurer’s argument that the trial court erred in dismissing its vocational expert’s testimony about suitable jobs for the employee was similarly dismissed by the appellate court. The judge relied on the witness’s trustworthy testimony about his injuries and the impossibility of him returning to work, according to the appellate court.

Meet with an Experienced Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Lawyer

While some workplace injuries resolve relatively quickly, others cause permanent harm. If you suffered harm in the workplace, you may be owed workers’ compensation benefits, and you should contact an attorney. James K. Meehan of the Law Office of James K. Meehan is an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer, and if you hire him, he will work tirelessly on your behalf. You can reach him by calling 508-822-6600 or using the online form to set up a meeting.